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Star Wars Prequels Toys

Lego Accused of Racism With Star Wars Set 514

Posted by Soulskill
from the Han,-mah-bukee,-keel-ee-calleya-ku-kah dept.
Ch_Omega writes "According to this article over at The Telegraph, Lego has been accused of racism by the Turkish community in Austria over a Star Wars model that supposedly resembles one of Istanbul's most revered mosques. The anger was provoked by 'Jabba's Palace,' a model of the home of Jabba the Hutt from Lego's Star Wars product range based on the blockbusting series of science fiction films. 'The terrorist Jabba the Hutt likes to smoke a hookah and have his victims killed,' said the statement posted on the organization's website. '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.'"
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Lego Accused of Racism With Star Wars Set

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  • here we go (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Titan1080 (1328519) on Friday January 25, 2013 @12:18PM (#42691649)
    Is there anything left in the world that the big bad white man hasn't destroyed through 'racism'?
    • by tripleevenfall (1990004) on Friday January 25, 2013 @12:22PM (#42691703)

      I am altering the world. Pray I don't alter it further.

      • Re:here we go (Score:5, Insightful)

        by DarkRat (1302849) on Friday January 25, 2013 @12:34PM (#42691901)
        praying is part of the problem
        • by idontgno (624372) on Friday January 25, 2013 @12:47PM (#42692071) Journal
          I find your lack of faith disturbing.
        • Re:here we go (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Artraze (600366) on Friday January 25, 2013 @01:09PM (#42692325)

          Really? Because this seems to have an awful lot more to do with race (and stereotypes thereof) than religion. Heck, the "mosque" in question has been a museum for almost 70 years! (And in the long past if was Christian rather than Islamic.) It has far more meaning at this point as an iconic and history bit of architecture that represents the region.

          I know hating on religion is all the rage these day, but racial stereotyping and sensitivity (like this article and discussion are about) have basically nothing to do with it. You'll find plenty of overly sensitive or overly insensitive atheists. Many westerns that get upset about this kind of thing are anti-religion and a lot of hate groups are agnostic. So I quite fail to see where religion plays into this at all.

          • Re:here we go (Score:5, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 25, 2013 @02:07PM (#42693075)

            I want to agree with you here, but

            I know hating on religion is all the rage these day, but racial stereotyping and sensitivity (like this article and discussion are about) have basically nothing to do with it.

            does kind of conflict with

            The Turkish Cultural Community of Austria released a statement calling for Lego to apologise for affronting religious and cultural feelings.

            It looks like religion and stereotyping have everything to do with it. At least in their eyes. And let's be honest, most of the hate groups and violence we read about are perpetrated under religious excuse. Not a lot of militant atheists out there wiping out neighboring tribes for having religion, or blowing themselves up on public transportation, RPG'ing the kafir embassy, genital mutilation, firebombing health facilities, shooting doctors, or getting on TV to scream "GOD HATES FAGS".

            I'm happy to give people the benefit of the doubt. Particularly in more civilized nations where the religious are less likely to kill people. But let's not go full-on hallucinatory.

    • by SirGarlon (845873)
      Thailand and Japan. They're the only non-European countries that spring to mind that haven't been colonized by Europeans. I could be wrong.
      • Thailand and Japan. They're the only non-European countries that spring to mind that haven't been colonized by Europeans. I could be wrong.

        Also Afghanistan. The Macedonians, British, Russians, and Americans have all tried, but so far none have succeeded.

      • Re:here we go (Score:5, Interesting)

        by NicBenjamin (2124018) on Friday January 25, 2013 @02:02PM (#42693005)

        "Never colonized" is actually a lot harder to figure out then you'd think. The only actual clear-cut case is Thailand/Siam.

        Liberia technically counts, but it was a) an outpost of thoroughly Westernized African-Americans, and b) a de facto protectorate of the United States. Afghanistan was de facto a condominium between the Czar and the Brits, which was allowed technical autonomy to keep those two countries from fighting each-other. Within 5 years of figuring out that he no longer had to worry about the Romanovs their Amir decided that he was now prestigious enough to be a full-King, but as long as those Russian troops were on his northern frontier he was very careful to never say or do anything to offend them. Persia and China kept technical independence, but were cut up into competing spheres of influence. The only other countries to successfully fight off all attempts at Western colonization were the Japanese and Ethiopians, but the Japanese were basically colonized after WW2 and the Ethiopians were actually colonized during the War.

        Depending on whether Turks count as European the Turks were a) never colonized by Euros/Westerners or b) are by definition colonized by themselves. The Saudis always maintained significant autonomy from the Sultan in Istanbul.

        • by mooingyak (720677)

          Depending on whether Turks count as European the Turks were a) never colonized by Euros/Westerners or b) are by definition colonized by themselves. The Saudis always maintained significant autonomy from the Sultan in Istanbul.

          "Turks" as a people maybe not (not sure if colonization can apply to people rather than territory), but IIRC the Romans colonized a large chunk of Turkey.

          • When the Romans/Byzantines owned it it was called Anatolia or Asia Minor. This is because the Turkish people were Steppe nomads similar to the Mongols when the Romans/Byzantines owned it. They only moved into Anatolia after beating multiple Emperors on the battle-field.

            The region actually had large Greek and Armenian populations up until WW1. During the war either a) the Turkish Sultan used genocide to replace unreliable Christian Armenians with reliable Islamic Kurds, or b) the fortunes of war killed almos

    • Re:here we go (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Friday January 25, 2013 @12:29PM (#42691825) Homepage Journal

      Is there anything left in the world that the big bad white man hasn't destroyed through 'racism'?

      ...
      Porn?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 25, 2013 @12:30PM (#42691841)

      The only bad guys you can safely portray in movies are white guys. So what if Jabba's Palace borrows some architectural, decorational and floral inspirations from the Persians. Having a villain with taste Persian trappings doesn't make any Persian a villain any more than owning a Walther PPK makes you a hero.

      Perhaps most villains are white, but not all villians are white. And given that Vader and Palpatine where both very white, and Lando, Chewie, Yoda and R2 weren't, if anything I think it's the corn fed Nebraskans that should be offended.

    • by ackthpt (218170) on Friday January 25, 2013 @12:43PM (#42692021) Homepage Journal

      Is there anything left in the world that the big bad white man hasn't destroyed through 'racism'?

      Well, I guess that'll put the skids on the Armenian Genocide play set...

    • Re:here we go (Score:5, Insightful)

      by craigminah (1885846) on Friday January 25, 2013 @01:13PM (#42692369)
      Who cares is it resembles a famous mosque? If the mosque wasn't so old I'd love to see Lucas sue them for copyright infringement for stealing the design from Star Wars. All these cries of racism are pretty weak and detract from the actual racism being committed daily. People need to lighten up...
    • by denzacar (181829) on Friday January 25, 2013 @02:26PM (#42693319) Journal

      ...and culture clash. Also, possibly trolling.

      The original text at www.turkischegemeinde.at [turkischegemeinde.at] also mentions that:

      Erschreckend ist auch die rot-schwarze Teufels-Fratze auf der Schachtel rechts oben, die zumindest ein augenfÃlliges Signal ist, dass das Spiel nicht unter dem Christbaum am Weihnachtsabend - Auch Türken feiern Weihnachten - liegen sollte.

      Translation:

       

      Also frightening is a grotesque red-and-black devil's face in the right corner of the box, which is at least an obvious hint that the toy is not something one should lay down under the (Christmas) tree on Christmas Eve - Turks celebrate Christmas too.

      The "red-black devil's face" is a drawing of - you guessed it - Dart Maul.
      Now to me that indicates that the article was written by someone who hasn't actually seen (at least) Episode I, or quite possibly hadn't had ANY contact with the Star Wars franchise until now.

      And yes, however unbelievable that may seem to us - there are people out there who've managed to live through the last couple of decades without actually watching or having any interest in Star Wars.
      Or science fiction.
      Or movies.

  • Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tripleevenfall (1990004) on Friday January 25, 2013 @12:19PM (#42691665)

    This objection is silly because Jabba's Palace and the Hagia Sophia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hagia_Sophia [wikipedia.org] ) don't look much alike at all, other than having a dome, in which case they'd better prepare for a lot more outrage when they start to see other photos of the outside world...

  • by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Friday January 25, 2013 @12:19PM (#42691667) Homepage
    We all know that George Lucas would never stand for anything which smacked of racial prejudice and vulgar insinuations against Asians and Orientals as people with deceitful and criminal personalities.
  • by Murdoch5 (1563847) on Friday January 25, 2013 @12:20PM (#42691679)

    '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.

    I have an Asian girl friend and she can't find anything offensive about this lego set. She showed it to her parents and they didn't see any issue with it and even her grandparents didn't see the issue. So as for it containing racial and prejudice against Asians, well not so much. Just because some people are to sensitive to everyday life doesn't make something offensive, it just makes them to sensitive to live the real world. Clearly someone or some small group got over worked up for no reason ( Like everyone over there does ) and hence we have a racist lego set.

    • Re:No It Doesn't (Score:5, Insightful)

      by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Friday January 25, 2013 @12:28PM (#42691813) Journal
      Too bad Lego responded to this nonsense and even offered an apology. Were I in charge of the company, I'd have offered a different reply: "We at the Lego company do not usually offer the following advice, but in this case we will go ahead and suggest that you grow up.". Seriously, some people...
      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 25, 2013 @12:39PM (#42691969)

        I'm not sure anyone hypothetically running a toy company should issue a public statement telling people to "grow up".

      • Re:No It Doesn't (Score:5, Informative)

        by gnasher719 (869701) on Friday January 25, 2013 @12:48PM (#42692085)

        Too bad Lego responded to this nonsense and even offered an apology

        Responding is not bad; you said yourself that the company would have responded if you were in charge. And there was no apology either, the reply was "We regret that the product has caused the members of the Turkish cultural community to come to a wrong interpretation. " That's not an apology. That's saying these people are wrong.

      • If enough people find offense in the apology, and let LEGO know, then it will become clear that simply apologizing for some imagined slight or offense is itself offensive.

    • by CCarrot (1562079)

      '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.

      I have an Asian girl friend and she can't find anything offensive about this lego set. She showed it to her parents and they didn't see any issue with it and even her grandparents didn't see the issue. So as for it containing racial and prejudice against Asians, well not so much. Just because some people are to sensitive to everyday life doesn't make something offensive, it just makes them to sensitive to live the real world. Clearly someone or some small group got over worked up for no reason ( Like everyone over there does ) and hence we have a racist lego set.

      Well, I was with you right up until that comment. Boo, fail.

    • by Psyborgue (699890)
      I wish these Muslims wouldn't say "Asians" when they complain about something remotely resembling something having to do with Islam. I'm quite positive there are many Asians who don't like getting lumped together with Muslim middle easterners when they do or say something insane. Besides; criticizing a religion, which is not even what Lego did here, has absolutely nothing at all to do with race.
  • by mark-t (151149) <markt@lynx.b c . ca> on Friday January 25, 2013 @12:21PM (#42691691) Journal
    .... that their objection should be with Lucasfilm (or Disney, now, I suppose)... since the concept is actually theirs. All Lego does is license it.
  • by SirGarlon (845873) on Friday January 25, 2013 @12:21PM (#42691695)
    If Star Wars Legos represent offensive racial stereotypes, then they're an accurate representation of the films. The Phantom Menace was quite striking in its overt caricatures of Japanese (Trade Federation), blacks (Jar-Jar), Jews (the flying blue dude who was Anakin's master). So it doesn't surprise me that Jabba is an offensive caricature of someone, too. Par for the course.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mark-t (151149)

      The Phantom Menace was quite striking in its overt caricatures of Japanese (Trade Federation), blacks (Jar-Jar), Jews (the flying blue dude who was Anakin's master).

      I think that those racial stereotypes are only obvious when one is actively trying to look for them. Or.... you could just sit back and enjoy the story. Because you know, it's actually quite entertaining when you aren't trying to overanalyze it to pieces.

      • by TheSunborn (68004) <tiller&daimi,au,dk> on Friday January 25, 2013 @12:28PM (#42691819)

        Enjoy thte story??? Are we talking about the same movie?.

      • by SirGarlon (845873)

        I think that those racial stereotypes are only obvious when one is actively trying to look for them.

        That's not the same as saying they aren't there.

        Because you know, it's actually quite entertaining

        Let's agree to disagree on that!

      • Well it is a case, the stereotype was used to portrait them in a negative light.
        Trade Federation were the Bad guys.
        Jar-Jar was a clumsy and didn't really know what was going on
        The flying dude, was just all about greed and money.

        It the Trade Federation had a counter group that was also the good guys,
        If Jar-Jar was more useful
        If the Flying dude actually gave a crap about people

        Then they would be less obvious.
        What I liked about Ep.4,5,6 Even the ugly aliens were good guys, or bad guys. As were the humans. Ad

  • by eepok (545733) on Friday January 25, 2013 @12:22PM (#42691699) Homepage

    First, Lego didn't design Jabba's Palace. I'm pretty sure that was under LucasArts' realm.

    Second, Jabba's Palace is modeled like all the other homes on Tatooine. Except his is bigger. It's desert design influencing desert design.

    Third, Jabba's not the only one smoking from a hookah like device in the movie.

    Fourth, omg stop being the dumb.

  • I'm mad too (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hawguy (1600213) on Friday January 25, 2013 @12:24PM (#42691745)

    I'm still mad at the makers of Silence of the Lambs for portraying Hannibal Lecter as a Caucasian male. I am a Caucasian male and it's clear that the whole movie the smacks of racial prejudice and vulgar insinuations against Caucasians as people with deceitful and criminal personalities. Movies should stop having bad guys because it always paints some race or culture as having deceitful and criminal personalities and that upsets me.

  • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Friday January 25, 2013 @12:25PM (#42691761) Homepage Journal
    Huh.


    And here I was thinking that Jabba was a caricature of American politicians - fat, stupid, lazy, ready to kill on a whim, and unable to speak anything but nonsensical gibberish.
  • by Beer_Smurf (700116) on Friday January 25, 2013 @12:28PM (#42691807) Homepage
    Johnny Cash is also very offended that Darth Vader wears black and is dead.
  • Ridiculous (Score:5, Informative)

    by theof (1004512) on Friday January 25, 2013 @12:29PM (#42691835)
    The Hagia Sofia was built as an Orthodox Christian Church, and was used as such for a thousand years. It was converted into a mosque when the Turks conquered the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire in 1453, and it's been a museum since 1931. As it's not a Turkish building, they should not be offended. I'm sick of the whining and attempts at playing the victim by some people. It's even more ridiculous that what they are claiming offense at isn't even a building which was built by their culture.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by operagost (62405)
      Indeed. Perhaps the Christian world should be denouncing them for never returning the structure to its rightful owners, or making amends for their atrocities:

      In 1453 Sultan Mehmed laid siege to Constantinople, driven in part by a desire to convert the city to Islam. The Sultan promised his troops three days of unbridled pillage if the city fell, after which he would claim its contents himself. Hagia Sophia was not exempted from the pillage, becoming its focal point as the invaders believed it to contain t

  • by bazmail (764941) on Friday January 25, 2013 @12:35PM (#42691913)
    Just try telling the Turks about the Armenian genocide committed by their troops in the early 20th century and you'll see their inner Jabba come out.
  • by backslashdot (95548) on Friday January 25, 2013 @12:36PM (#42691941)

    When they say "Austria's Turkish community" they really mean a small vocal minority thereof. I bet most people in the Austrian Turkish community couldn't care less.

    • by idontgno (624372) on Friday January 25, 2013 @12:52PM (#42692121) Journal

      I bet most people in the Austrian Turkish community are embarrassed as fuck to be associated with the specific whinging ass-rags..

      FTFY. I hope.

    • by starfishsystems (834319) on Friday January 25, 2013 @01:41PM (#42692755) Homepage
      The Turks in Austria today find themselves at the short end of the stick. As immigrants and members of visible minority in a host culture known for harboring a certain degree of racism, they're at a distinct social disadvantage. But the situation for Turks in Austria is exceptionally uncomfortable because Austria withstood 150 years of war with the Ottoman Empire.

      The Viennese, in particular, are never going to let the Turks forget it. Take a walk through the city sometime and check out the newspaper vendors on the street corners. It's nobody's idea of a great career move, and the worst of it is that they have to wear these wretched demeaning monkey suits. And notice, they're all Turks. It's not an overstatement to say that they live in a state of public humiliation. It's not subtle. It's almost the first thing you notice as a tourist.

      Never mind the right and wrong of it. Some of these people - the ones who aren't completely subjugated - are bound to kick up a fuss once in a while, and not always in a rational, measured way. I expect that's what's happening here with the protest against Lego.
  • by WillAdams (45638) on Friday January 25, 2013 @12:43PM (#42692009) Homepage

    This is a Lego Haggia Sophia:

    http://www.eurobricks.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=67199 [eurobricks.com]

  • by argStyopa (232550) on Friday January 25, 2013 @01:00PM (#42692209) Journal

    I'd love it if Lego replied:

      "We're not portraying the revered Hagia Sophia mosque of Istanbul (which, btw ISN'T EVEN A MOSQUE since it was secularized in 1931)...no, we're portraying the Hagia Sophia CHURCH, the most holy church in Christendom until it was conquered by 'the religion of peace' in 1453."

    What's "whiny bitch" in Byzantine?

  • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh AT gmail DOT com> on Friday January 25, 2013 @01:23PM (#42692515) Journal

    The Star Wars movies, especially the prequels, are riddled with racist undertones that people were too un-PC to realize the offensiveness of at the time. Like Gene Roddenberry's progressiveness, appreciation for the offensiveness in Star Wars will be a series of gifts that will be opened over time for decades to come.

  • by dietdew7 (1171613) on Friday January 25, 2013 @01:24PM (#42692533)
    Thankfully it's not a rectangle with rounded corners.

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