LEGO responds to racist claims

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A number of you emailed me with links to press articles (such as this one in the Telegraph) concerning racist claims about Jabba's Palace. Frankly I thought it was all a lot of nonsense so wasn't going to mention it here, but now it seems LEGO has taken them seriously enough to publish a response so I'll mention it now and hope it stops the barrage of emails:

"All LEGO Star Wars products are based on the movies of the Star Wars saga created by Lucasfilm. Jabba's Palace appears in Star Wars Episode VI and appears in a famous scene on the planet Tatooine. The building is the palace of Jabba - a fictional movie character.

"The picture shown above depicts the building from the movie scene. The LEGO designers try to reproduce all buildings, space ships and characters from the movies as close as possible when creating a new LEGO Star Wars product.

"This is done to allow both young and old Star Wars fans to act out the scenes from the movies at home. The LEGO Star Wars product Jabba´s palace does not reflect any non-fictional buildings, people, or the mentioned mosque.

"The LEGO minifigures shown on the box and found inside the box (Jabba, Salacious Crumb, Bib Fortuna, Gamorrean Guard, Oola, Han Solo, Princess Leia disguised as Boushh, Chewbacca and B'omarr Monk) are all modelled after fictional characters from the movie.

"The LEGO Group regrets that the product has caused the members of the Turkish cultural community to interpret it wrongly, but point out that the design of the product only refers to the fictional content of the Star Wars saga."

I suspect it was rushed out because it's riddled with spelling mistakes and errors, which I've corrected. Hopefully, though, that will be the end of it...

(via Hoth Bricks)

58 comments on this article

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By in Canada,

People will get offended over anything. If they had their way people would never speak for fear of being sued.

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By in United States,

Good grief that is a mountain of stupid right there.

I realize LEGO is trying to preserve sales, but you can't give in to cultural terrorism like that.

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By in New Zealand,

@Ronny - its worse than them disagreeing with other people - they are playing the lame "racism" card where you act like a victim and call anything and everything racist out of ignorance, just so you can get attention to your cause. They don't care how many people they hurt or what damage they do to something, as long as they get some press for their cause out of the situation.

Its all very hypocritical because religion is meant to be about tolerance, and this pack of twits are doing the exact opposite.

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By in United Kingdom,

This is totally, utterly and absolutely preposterous! It's even worse that Lego felt compelled to actually respond to these stupid allegations and justify what the set is about.
Why the hell didn't this chap complain about the building when it first showed up in the media 20 frickin years ago!!

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By in United States,

Just because the set reflects a common architectural style doesn't make it racist. The fact that Jabba loves to lay about, toke on his hooka, has a harem of slave girls and rides around on a flying carpet-lined barge... THAT makes it racist. Although, it's not LEGO's fault someone made the reference first.

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By in Italy,

i'm quite offended by this article, i can't tolerate my favorite toy brand is charged of racist stuff. I'm going to write an article about how much i'm offended by the offenders that offends... :D

my god... i were thinking about a nazi army to put on cuuso but maybe someone will be offended... :P

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By in United Kingdom,

I'm saddened that these nonsense claims have to be dignified with any response at all. It used to be the case that people were intelligent enough to see utter claptrap for what it was, and would laugh the idiots off. These days EVERYTHING has to be addressed. It's sad.

But the real target is not Lego, but those who live within the society of the accusers. The accusations are just fuel to incite hatred amongst uneducated vulnerable people.

Given that companies, individuals, community groups etc now have to respond to every stupid accusation, just to defend their existence - and those responses won't be seen by the actual target of the attack - I wish that the wider global community/governments would take the responsibility to ridicule the accusers within their society, and educate the vulnerable underclasses, so that the target of these baseless spurious threats is no longer there, and then WE no longer have to laugh off the rubbish, as their own community will run them out of town instead.

It's about time those vulnerable and easily-influenced sections of society of the world were protected and educated to prevent them being the target for this kind of BS. We would all be better off and safer.

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By in United States,

Lego should not regret anything, and give in into this type of religious bullying. Insane times we live in.. I hope this translates into more awareness of lego and these sets and more sales for them..

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By in New Zealand,

@Maxximus - that doesn't make it racist sorry. That is unless you are crazy enough to think Jabba is a representation of Asian or Oriental people. Last time I was in Asia, people didn't look like Jabba or Gamorean guards.

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By in Canada,

After looking at the picture and reading the statement I was still scratching my head trying to figure out why was Lego apologizing and for what. Please, forgive my ignorance. Reading Maxximus' statement; if this is the cause for all the grief/uproar then I think it comes down to people just reading too much into things. Remember the opening sequence of the movie?!?

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

Its not real!!!

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By in Hungary,

It's so great that we live in this tight ass PC culture where every ethnic and religious group can get their 15 minutes by claiming offense on something completely inoffensive. What's next? A Japanese Ninja Guild claiming they were offended by Ninjago sets? Greeks being offended by the usage of greek architecture elements in the Atlantis sets? Ridiculous.

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By in United States,

LEGO should know better than to feed the trolls ;)

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By in United States,

I'm all about social justice and people having a right to their emotions, but this is flat-out ridiculous. On the one hand shame on TLG for legitimizing this attention-grab, and on the other hand kudos for sticking to the fact that this is based purely on a work of fiction. A work of fiction that is 30 years old, for those that weren't counting.

And for goodness sakes; the denizens of Jabba's Palace are not even remotely Asian or Oriental-looking. Nor are domes, towers, and the color brown architectural elements exclusive to the Hagia Sophia.

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By in United Kingdom,

I don't know whether to laugh or cry at this. What a lot of nonsense. My kids were playing with my Jabba's palace just a few days ago. I had better turn myself in to social services for exposing them to racist imagery then....

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By in United Kingdom,

How utterly ridiculous. It doesn't help that TLG is making it seem like a valid accusation by issuing a statement - what has it got to apologise for?!

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By in United Kingdom,

I'd say it was more racist of the people making the claim themselves to suggest that they bear any resemblance to the lego figures in the set...

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By in United Kingdom,

I would have said Jabbas Palace was based more on a Romford Nightclub than anything else.

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By in United Kingdom,

um, this set has been since summer 2012, why suddenly now are people are annoyed by this? Something doesn't add up here :S

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By in United Kingdom,

The problem with getting all hot under then collar about these kinds of stories is that they're usually found to be a gross distortion of something far less sensational. Still, reporting in this way shifts periodicals/gets clicks/gets viewers/gets bums on seats.

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By in United States,

I, for one, am glad that the subject of racism in Lego has finally been brought up in a public forum. Has anyone else noticed that the vast majority of Lego figures have yellow skin tones? The closest representation of my own caucasian identity is the ghosts and vampires in the Monster Fighters theme. It's racism, I tells ya! Racism!

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By in Netherlands,

I love Yellow it is raceless.

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By in United States,

/\ thats because all the originals were yellow. Only actual skin colors are on licensed sets.
This.....This just........these days everyone tries to find something to blame with racism.

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By in United States,

/\/\*

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By in Spain,

This claim made is absolutely none sense.the similarities between Jabba and co. to the religion protesting this are as different as psychologically possible.

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By in United Kingdom,


It's because Disney now own Star Wars all of the existing characters are automatically of a Racist nature!!
Especially Oola who looks like she's ..... er..... from a country with Green people that have tentacles coming out of their heads!! You know the one......

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By in United States,

Just some fools that wants to be noticed.

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By in United Kingdom,

Surely for a Jabba the Hutt based set to offend you in a racist way you would have to be a giant hermaphroditic slug!

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By in Sweden,

This is just about the most hilariously stupid thing I've ever read. These people clearly have no idea what racism even means.

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By in United States,

Why are people offended by this? I remember seeing a Chinese made toy that showed an attack helicopter firing upon a fighter plane with United States Air Force markings, and nothing was ever mentioned anyone getting offended by this occurrence.

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By in United States,

Completely stupid. I'm amazed LEGO even bothered to waste time responding to this.

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By in United States,

As I always say "I dont have time for other peoples stupidity" And boy is that true of this article.

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By in Austria,

It is very sad to attack the best toy ever for inexplicable reasons. Unfortunately, the (large) Turkish community in Austria is partly unwilling to integrate.

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By in United States,

I figured they would, but I was really hoping TLG wouldn't have responded to this idiocy... :/ Oh well.

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By in United Kingdom,

I assume that the Turkish Cultural Commonity have also critisised Lucasfilm as the originator of the "offending" materal.
Personally I saw no resemblance and I was squinting.

On another point the Star Wars saga took place a long time ago in a galaxy far far away so if anything the Turkish Cultural Community copied Jabba :-)

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By in United Kingdom,

Shows the utter craziness of liberal left political correction. Lego shouldn't have even responded.

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By in United Kingdom,

I agree with others that it was hardly worth Lego posting a response, but nevertheless, the one they have produced seems very reasonable. The accusation was ridiculous in the first place however, so I doubt it will change the views of those who originally complained.

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By in United Kingdom,

They're complaining it's racist because Jabbas Palace looks like a temple that was designed by the Christians? What? How???

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By in United Kingdom,

1 It doesn't really look like Hagia Sophia.
2 Hagia Sophia was a Orthodox Church before it was a mosque.
3 Hagia Sophia isn't even a mosque anymore! It's a museum that you're not allowed to prey it.

In conclusion the whole thing is stupid and TLG shouldn't have even commented on it and just ignored it.

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By in United States,

So, to read between the lines of Lego's statement, Lego does not believe Middle-Easterners are all terrorist, mysoginistic, slave-owning criminals, George Lucas does. Lego based the Middle-Eastern architecture inspired building, located in a Middle-Eastern-style desert, filled with shady, slave-owning, hookah-smoking, mysoginistic criminals on characters and places from George Lucas's imagination. Keep in mind that when Leia pulls out the thermal detonator, threatening to blow herself and everybody else up, Jabba calls her "my kind of scum." So there's your terrorism link as well. I agree that Lego only based their set on the movie. But Lucas wrote his characters and situations dangerously close to the line. You don't have to be looking for racism to see racism in his other movies. And if you dispute that, answer me this: Why does Nute Gunray and his race have an Asian accent? Why does Jar Jar sound so much like Al Jolson's demeaning imitation of African Americans? Even Lando, the only major ethnic character in the OT I can think of, was a [somewhat] reformed criminal. The only other "black" in the OT was Darth Vader, the main villian. By the time the prequels were released, Lucas felt obliged to cast an African American as Mace Windu but the rest of the series has few positive representations of non-whites. I'm sure I'll take fire for this comment but try to keep the discussion civil.

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By in United States,

It seems to me that if they are really offended, they should if anything be taking issue with Star Wars, not Lego. Lego didn't come up with the structure, scene, or characters on their own. It's a replica of a scene from a 30-year-old movie. If they aren't up in arms about the movie, then they really shouldn't be up in arms about Legos based on it.

And besides that, as many others have pointed out, it's a nonsensical accusation.

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By in United Kingdom,

@Tilius - you are absolutely right. And those of us members of the human race that have a more reasonable, balanced attitude towards others are then required to remember that not everyone in the Turkish community (as well as quote "Asians or Orientals" elsewhere in the world) don't think this way. Madness.

I think the following sentence reveals the stupidity of what was claimed "the model goes against the “peaceful coexistence of different cultures in Europe”. Apparently because some of the minifigures have weapons. I hope these people never go to the cinema, or switch on their TVs, or step outside their doors. They may be in for a shock.

I've been fortunate enough to visit some of the amazing and beautiful mosques in Turkey, I also own this set. And not once did I think.....oooo that looks like the Hagia Sophia Mosque. But having read their complaint, it will be hard to forget.

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By in United States,

^^ exactly

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By in United States,

Was anyone besides me thinking this story was so ridiculous it must have been satire from The Onion? It's frightening that it isn't.

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By in United States,

Unfortunately, the main distinctive unifying feature is that both the model and the real mosque have Han Solo frozen in carbonite mounted on the wall, and this lends credence to the claim.

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By in Guam,

Seems to be a lot of rancor over Jabba's humble abode... Actually, a lot of rancor over a Rancor living under the palace perhaps!

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By in Germany,

Now this is just ridiculous. *Facepalm*

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By in United Kingdom,

Mikes0000 - your comments could incite fire from others but we're all entitled to our opinion. However to refer to Darth Vader as a "Black" character is taking it slightly too far. There is a genetically inherent human fear of the dark and it is prevalent in many cultures, religions, stories and art. Some of the cultures creating these stories/images come from a time predating their knowledge of "black people". The dark, and hence the color black, is not a racial element it's just life.
Discussing Racism is always going to divide people but there should always always be a sensible approach to this subject. I consider myself to be a well balanced individual (from a minority group) and have a very successful career in HR where I've had to deal with racism. To expect both parties in any situation to look at things reasonably goes a long way to ensuring stories and accusations like this, and elements of your comments, are not seen as evil intention.

And the one thing that should be pointed out to the Turkish community is that Jabba's palace does indeed look like a religious building.....because it was a monastery before he moved in, and much like they took the building over from another religion, he did the same ;o

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By in Germany,

This is beyond ridiculous. I am seriously baffled they honored this with a response.

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By in United States,

mikes0000 - I'm glad you posted your comment, because having an actual discussion instead of simply voicing indignation is a much better way to proceed. Unfortunately, I think that it's often difficult to imagine what it's like to be on the receiving end of someone's foolish ideas. I don't at all think that George Lucas is a racist - so I want that to be clear - but I do entirely agree that many of the characters and locations in his movies draw very heavily on racial and ethnic stereotypes. I suspect it's all unintentional, as Lucas himself likely isn't at all racist, and I wouldn't be surprised if he was even a committed anti-racist. Yet, I think that his characters reflect a general lack of knowledge about other peoples and cultures, so that he can draw on stereotypes that many people could easily find offensive. Unfortunately, if you've never suffered from such a stereotype, if people haven't looked at you and had certain ideas about who or what you are based on your appearance, it's hard to imagine why reinforcing such stereotypes might be a problem.

So, while the specific claim is a stretch, and probably shouldn't be taken too seriously, instead of denigrating this person who found it offensive, we might want to understand why he did. Some of us don't get offended that easily - but instead of telling others to lighten up, we might instead want to try and understand why they happen to be so sensitive.

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By in United States,

I rarely take anything seriously, but a serious response re: "if people haven't looked at you and had certain ideas about who or what you are based on your appearance" above... That is not racism, and it has happened to everyone - _everyone_ - at least once in their lives. But most likely, it's happened to each of us every day of our lives. We are hard-wired to make assumptions of others based on their outward appearance, be that skin color, hair length, clothing, or the amount of piercings and tattoos they may or may not have.

EDIT: The above may be seen as me trying to justify racism because I didn't extrapolate, so I would like to clarify: We fall into racism when those assumptions are made based on prejudice and negative stereotypes because of skin color. Additionally, failing to see past any appearance-based assumptions (skin color or otherwise) is prejudice.

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By in United States,

There were people crying racism over Jar-Jar Binks' accent in episode one, so this here really doesn't surprise me...

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By in United States,

To mikes0000:

I would just like to point out that the people who think Neimoidians "sound like Asians" are the racist ones.

If you have eyes, it's pretty easy to notice Neimoidians don't have noses, and presumbably no nasal cavities. Now I'm no defender of Lucas, and I have no idea whether he was trying to be intentionally racist or not - but you don't have to be a rocket surgeon to understand that a whole race of beings with no nasal cavaties, trying to speak a language that sounds to us like English, would have the same kinds of problems as the Neimoidians.

To me, they sound like they have a cold. When Phantom Menace came out, some of the people who saw it with me were Korean. As in South Korea. As in FROM the actual country, and they didn't seem to notice. So let's stop spreading urban myths.

And if you need further clarification on the issue, perhaps you'll find this article on stardestroyer.net enlightening:

http://www.stardestroyer.net/Empire/Essays/Racism.html

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By in United States,

I also doubt that Lucas is much of a racist considering that he is married to a black woman...

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By in United States,

This better not cause Lego to go down under. Because if it does, then we as humanity will have failed.

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By in United Kingdom,

Before this gets too off topic and out of hand, I will close it for commenting.

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By in United States,

obiron17 - I call Darth Vader a black character because his skin tone was unknown (until ROTJ) but he was voiced by a black actor (James Earl Jones). That's why I put "black" in quotes above but I should have been clearer.

To expand my earlier comments...Lucas admits to trying to tap into the universal mythology in writing Star Wars (see Joe Campbell's "The Hero with a Thousand Faces": An outlander of unknown lineage takes the next step of human evolution, usually manifesting some sort of telekinetic power. I'm oversimplifying it but elements of the same story were used in the Greek Myths, the Bible, through to modern science fiction). The wide appeal of his story is due to Lucas's ability to tap that universal mythology. Unfortunately, I think Lucas confused the universal mythology which was the basis for his story with other universals in the telling of his story, among them racial stereotypings, both his own and that of the culture he came from. Keeping in mind that he wrote the OT in the late 70's and early 80's, I can forgive those as representations of art from 30+ years ago, less than 20 years after the Civil Rights Act passed in America. But I am disturbed by Jar-Jar's and Gunray's accents in the prequels as by then, Lucas should have known better.

Yes, I know they are aliens and the story is in a galaxy far away but when taken as metaphor or representations of our own culture, ask yourself how they represent our culture or what they represent in our culture.

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By in United States,

Makes Mr wanna get jabbah's palace now...

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