Take Off Your Head, And Throw it at Your Mom

On Saturday, September 16th, Lego Ninjago had its Hollywood movie premiere and celebrity red carpet, which homed some of the most prominent actors of modern times including Dave Franco, Fred Armisen, Jackie Chan, and Olivia Munn.  By attending this event behind the paparazzi, it was clear there was a line when referring to the male actors compared to their female counterparts.  Many of the male actors were able to choose the poses they made while pictures were taken, whereas as soon as the women stood on the red carpet, they were bombarded by comments like “Turn your head to the side,” “Let us see that dress, twirl for us,” and “Show off that smile.”  It made many of the attendees uncomfortable with their speech, not only because of the derogatory implications of their words but also because half of the audience was under the age of ten. Was this really the way we want our children to grow up, thinking this type of speech is normal?

Thankfully, as soon as we entered the theater, it was clear these ideals would not be carried onto the screen.  In fact, the opening screen has Nya (Abbi Jacobson), a female water ninja, shutting down a sexist comment about her ninja abilities, telling the speaker in modern times that it is no way to think about women.  The four main ninjas, Kai (Michel Pena) of red fire, Cole (Fred Armisen) of black earth, Jay (Kumail Nanjiani) of blue air, and Zane (Zach Woods) of white Ice, are indeed male, as well as the Ninja of green, Lloyd (Dave Franco); therefore, there is room for improvement in equal representation.  But Nya has all the same abilities the male ninjas do and fights Lord Garmadon (Justin Theroux) with the rest of the group under the council of Master Wu (Jackie Chan); she even drives a motorcycle to her classes at the high school. Nya also lacked a very common stereotype that is usually seen in many children shows; she did not have a love interest.  

Nya was a very compelling character, but an even more captivating character was Lloyd’s mother, Koko, played by Olivia Munn.  When the backstory of Koko is shared, it is revealed that she was of equal power to the main villain and often took part as the leader of an army in battles.  Koko was nicknamed Lady Iron Dragon by her followers, one of them being Nya, who even named and painted her motorcycle in tribute to Koko, giving an important message that strong women must support each other.

The new Lego Ninjago movie has some very woke concepts about feminism and its place in children’s movies and media, and I would encourage other films to take notes. It made the movie not only more attractive from a woman’s perspective but also switched up the storyline and made the action more exciting, knowing they did not just depend on the male ninjas to save the day.