LEGO and Jabba The Hutt Accused of Racial Bigotry
Jabba is one of the worst criminals in the galaxy. But the murderous slave-owning criminal kingpin has finally done something to anger people -- he has been politically incorrect!
The list of crimes Jabba the Hut committed is vast . As a powerful gangster he was involved with smuggling, assassination, slavery, employing bounty hunters, gambling, and overall corpulent gluttony. Now we have learned there is something else entirely which truly angers people. It turns out the biggest crime lord in the galaxy may be guilty of the unforgiveable acts of racial insensitivity and political incorrectness.
Word comes from the British periodical The Daily Mail that an Islamic group has declared that the LEGO toy company is guilty of racism and cultural insensitivity. The focus of their outrage? A LEGO toy set from the Star Wars films which replicates Jabba’s Palace. According to the paper a group known as the Turkish Cultural Community has spearheaded this campaign:
--> The group has released a statement calling for an apology from Lego for its cultural insensitivity. The Lego set is based on the home of Jabba the Hutt, a central character in the Star Wars series, who lives in a domed palace, with a separated watchtower. As well as bearing a likeness to the Hagia Sophia mosque, the Turkish group also claimed the toy takes its design from the Jami al-Kabir mosque in Beirut - while the watchtower is said to resemble a minaret.
Now, one may be tempted to see their side on the issue. A side-by-side comparison of the two structures does show the possibilities of similarity of color and in certain structural details.
But then there is one other way of looking at this. The LEGO set also bears a strong resemblance to another significant edifice, and that would be Jabba’s Palace itself as it is portrayed in the film!
That is not the only controversy however. It seems the character of Jabba himself is a very problematic portrayal as well.
--> A statement posted on the organization’s website refers to Jabba the Hutt as a 'terrorist' and says that he 'likes to smoke hookah and have his victims killed'. It adds: 'It is clear that the ugly figure of Jabba and the whole scene smacks of racial prejudice and vulgar insinuations against Asians and Orientals as people with deceitful and criminal personalities.'
In the interest of full disclosure, I may not be the best person to see their side as I have little use for political-correctness and contrived victimhood. Because of this I approach stories such as this not with knee-jerk empathy for their plight, but rather pragmatism. Because of this I actually have a few questions.
1) Playing devil’s advocate, let’s say the toy does replicate the appearance of the mosque(s). How does this constitute insensitivity exactly?
2) What exactly is the offense towards the Hagia Sophia considering it was originally constructed as a Catholic basilica, and it currently is in fact a museum and not a mosque?
3) How does the appearance of Jabba, which resembles a cross between a bull frog and a Shar Pei grafted onto the body of a 500lb slug, be considered a racist portrayal of any group of humans?
4) Considering the fact that this LEGO toy set is modeled after the palace shown in the movie, why has there been no previous outrage directed at this perceived slight as shown in the film?
You can even get a sense here that as this group is lodging their complaint they realize they are on shaky ground of outrage as they hedge their words. While also claiming the design incorporates elements of a second mosque in Beirut there is additionally a problem with structures in the toy resembling minarets. And in the course of other calls for an apology from the toy maker the activist group includes “Deliberately placing contextual errors within the toy.” So they get to have it both ways -- LEGO is wrong for a toy resembling the mosque(s), AND it is wrong for those elements which do not resemble the mosque(s).
Personally I think they are intentionally trafficking in obfuscation in order to ensure they win the argument. From my position I still need to consult a United Nations reference manual in order to parse the fact that The Turkish Cultural Committee is based in Austria, complaining about a toy depicting buildings from another galaxy which resemble those in two other nations and thus offends Asians. By this point I'm not even clear who is supposed to be offended any longer, let alone why.
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