Not so long ago — currently, actually — in a galaxy not so far away — it’s our own — racism is alive and well. You don’t really have to look too hard or too far to find it, and it is indeed a scourge of humanity. But I’m not sure LEGO is one of the bigger offenders out there.
The Turkish Cultural Community of Austria is tearing LEGO a new Sarlacc pit, calling the company’s “Jabba’s Palace” toy set racially disrespectful to the Asian community, both in setting and for the characters involved. First, they say the palace and watchtower themselves, hotbeds for idolatry and hedonism, bear an unwanted resemblance to the 4th century Hagia Sophia mosque in Istanbul, as well as the 7th century Jami’ al-Kabir in Beirut.
The TCCA also has a problem with Jabba, who “likes to smoke a hookah and have his victims killed.” They go on to say the scene, which also includes Jabba’s gun-toting guards, portrays “Orientals and Asians as sneaky and criminal personalities (slaveholders, leaders of criminal organizations, terrorists, criminals, murderers, human sacrifice).” Holy shit! They say the Gamorrean tower guard represents an Islamic prayer leader as a “criminal with an ax and rifle.” It’s a good thing they didn’t see the “Made in China” imprint on the bottom.
If it bears a passing resemblance to those two historic buildings, which it does, it’s almost certainly either a coincidence or just an appeal to the unique design aesthetic of each, rather than a demoralizing insinuation of hatred. I’ve never had to defend a plastic toy guard from Turkish people before, and I’m not about to start now. The TCCA is calling for LEGO to make a public apology, and is considering taking legal action. I don’t want to consider the ramifications if LEGO’s lawyers happen to be short and colored yellow.