Everyone Just Loves to Be Offended

Posted on April 8, 2013

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The latest people to be annoyingly offended are Turkish Muslims, who just now noticed a Star Wars set…  30 years after it debuted in Return of the Jedi.

I’m all for courtesy, consideration, and respect, but an awful lot of people have been way too easily offended in recent years.  I’m not sure when this fashion started, exactly, but we are way past the point of even being able to utter uncomfortable truths (Example: it is a fact that the children of single or teen parents are statistically more likely to drop out of school, but a New York City campaign against unplanned teen pregnancy was criticized as “reinforcing negative stereotypes” for saying so.).

If even the truth suffers under the onslaught of offended rage, how much worse off must fiction be?  Lego is the latest target, because space slugs, tentacled aliens, and vague little plastic characters are clearly depicting Muslims in a bad light.  Apparently, some guy in Austria saw Lego’s “Jabba’s Palace” play set, and got the Turkish Cultural Association there all worked up over it.  As Tony Paterson reports for The Independent:

Furious Muslim critics complained that the Lego set’s Asian and oriental figures were “deceitful and criminal” characters such as gun-runners, slave masters and terrorists…. Critics also claimed that the palace had an uncanny resemblance to Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia mosque. “The game is pedagogical dynamite. It depicts Muslims as terrorists,” the TCA complained, adding that Jabba was shown to be a “terrorist who likes to smoke hookah and have his victims killed.”

Hoo boy.  Where to start?  As someone who has seen both Return of the Jedi and the 1600-year-old Hagia Sophia in person, here’s Lila’s verdict:  Sorry, offended people, you are reaching on this one.  Whatever you are smoking in your hookahs has affected your thought processes.  Offended yet?  Good.

First point: the movie is 30 years old, and you are just now claiming this “uncanny resemblance” to the Hagia Sophia?

Second point:  Jabba’s Palace, whether in the movie or as a Lego toy, bears as much resemblance to the Hagia Sophia as an overcooked chicken wing bears to a peacock.   Here’s the exterior from the movie, the Lego toy, and the Hagia Sophia, in no particular order.  I’m betting you can tell which one is which.

IMG_1145aMovie-grab

Lego-Palace

But, you know, if you just… squint a little bit, and add more minarets, and make them more slender, and put pointed roofs on them, and make it a different color, then Jabba’s Palace totally looks like the Hagia Sophia, because they both have domed roofs.  Maybe the Italians should be offended, too, on account of the Roman Pantheon and their obvious La Cosa Nostra tendencies, because Jabba is not a terrorist; he is a gangster.

Third, Jabba’s Palace is notionally located on the planet Tatooine, which actually bears an uncanny resemblance to Tunisia, where the location scenes were filmed (even the planet’s name comes from the Tunisian town of Tataouine).  So if anyone should be offended, I guess it would be the Tunisians, who are not offended because the filming boosted their economy… starting with the first Star Wars movie, which featured the Hotel Sidi Driss as Luke Skywalker’s family homestead.

Luke Skywalker's home...

Luke Skywalker’s home…

... was actually the Hotel Sidi Driss in Tunisia.

… was actually the Hotel Sidi Driss in Tunisia.

Fourth, yes, fictional, non-human Jabba the Hutt is violent, yes, he keeps slaves, and yes, he smokes a hookah.  My question for offended Muslims everywhere:  Why do you think this makes him resemble a Muslim terrorist?  Is this what a Muslim terrorist is like?  I was kind of picturing something more like Osama bin Laden, but hey, you know best, I guess.

By the way, Jabba also has a pet space monkey, eats live space toads, and employs inter-species bands to play live space jazz, or maybe it was more like swing, I’m no expert.  I guess monkeys and jazz bands everywhere should be offended by that, too.

One final point:  here are the Lego set’s “Asian and Oriental figures,” as described by the “furious Muslim critics.”

LegoFigures

Um… I’m having a hard time with this.  Can someone please point out the alleged Asians in this collection of little plastic notions?  Perhaps the pale creature with the red eyes and tentacles sprouting from his head?  The boxy green dancing girl?  Funny, I thought they were supposed to look like creatures from a galaxy far, far away… not even human, much less Asian.  I have been to Central Asia, South Asia, Southwest Asia, and East Asia and have yet to meet a 700-pound space slug.  But hey, you offended people clearly know best, or you wouldn’t be so offended.

I’m pretty sure he’s not from Asia. I would have remembered something like this… Thanks, George Lucas.

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Posted in: Interests, Religion, World