April 12, 2005
You may have guessed that I'm the kind of person who endlessly nitpicks when people say that something is a first. You'd be quite right; people often claim firsts either through ignorance or deliberate omission, and these things get passed on as fact for years after. Since I believe in giving credit where credit is due, I see it almost as a duty.

It especially galls me when marketing copy (usually in the form of a press release) claims that something is a first when I know otherwise. It means that the people involved in the process aren't up on the history of their field or that they want to rewrite that history for their immediate or long-term benefit. The first is more likely than the second, but both are reprehensible.

The latest is an article from The Movie Reporter.com, describing a Star Wars mini-movie due to air on Cartoon Network shortly before the release of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Titled Revenge of the Brick, it's a short Star Wars movie with CGI Lego bricks. (I assume this information came from a press release, but there's no such release on the websites for Cartoon Network, Lucasfilm, or Lego).

Here's the phrase that bugs me: "The LEGO Company and Lucasfilm are teaming up to celebrate Episode III with this one-of-a-kind computer-animated special that combines all the action of Star Wars with the imagination and fun of LEGO bricks."

I emphasized "one-of-a-kind" because, er, it's not. Last year, the short Batman: New Times (spotlighted recently in our weekly newsletter) did exactly the same thing. It's also not the first time Star Wars figures have been animated with Lego. If you check the Screening Room link on the Lego Star Wars homepage, you'll find plenty of animated Star Wars Lego—though, unfortunately, not the short they used to promote the release of the Dark Forces line five years ago, in which they recreated the battle on Hoth shot by shot.

So this new special is certainly not a first. And it's an insult to the hard work of earlier creators to say that it is.


There's worse lies paraded before us than a flash in the pan press release. Generally such 'first' claims, typically, leave the door open to interpretation and refutation thanks in part to knowledgable people in the field. Lego anim claim scandal? gimme a break! The best way to combat lies is to tell the truth. Where are discussions on Ryan?? There are many firsts in that short.

Hmm. Not sure if you're agreeing or disagreeing with me there.

There is quite a bit to discuss in Ryan, but I think the issues there are more on the nature of animated documentaries (the topic of our first issue), exploitation (which has been admirably covered in the NFB's own Alter Egos documentary), and lionization (which Chris Robinson broached in his Animation Pimp column.)

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