Gender and Language, Vol 14, No 1 (2020)

Reading relationships, worlds and reality: a multimodal analysis of Lego City and Lego Friends home pages

Emma Putland
Issued Date: 21 May 2020


Existing literature highlights the gendered worlds of children’s toys, Lego City and Friends included, which target boys and girls respectively. The current article critically examines City and Friends home pages, since these act as a concise introduction to their online and offline spheres. I am particularly interested in how the two home pages differently summarise the sets and represent ‘reality’ for users; by this, I refer to the toys’ relationship with users’ real-life existences, both regarding the modality of their represented worlds and how users are encouraged to interact with the toy. Analysis indicates that, although both explicitly position themselves as toys to be used in viewers’ worlds, Friends and City present disparate realities and relationships with users. Friends promotes both real-life and imaginary friendship for consumers through interacting with its girl friendship group, whereas City emphasises action-oriented relationships where users are elevated to a heroic status in the imaginary city. I show how these relationships are realised through different semiotic resources, including visual modalities, linguistic choices and website format. I consider the intricacies of their semiotic choices and conclude by discussing the potential implications of these choices for shaping how children interact with and emotionally engage with the toys.

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DOI: 10.1558/genl.37861


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