Al-Jabba, or a silly tale from Austria

Al-Jabba, or a silly tale from Austria

First of all, a belated Happy New Year to all of you who might be reading this. To explain my not writing anything for months, I blame a combination of winter writing malaise, real life and there being just so many stories to potentially write about – so many in fact that one ends up not writing anything at all.

2013 begins with a silly story coming from Austria – or rather a group that calls itself The Turkish Cultural Community of Austria (Die Türkische Kulturgemeinde in Österreich) – where toy manufacturer Lego has been accused of “inciting racial hatred and insulting human dignity” (yes, that old chestnut) with its release of a Star Wars series model of Jabba the Hutt’s palace.

According to reports the original complaint had been made by a man who had purchased the set as a gift, only to make a connection between the architectural design of Jabba’s palace at that of the Hagia Sophia mosque in Istanbul. Most normal people would have either got a life or simply returned the toy, but this individual instead chose to report his findings to the TKÖ – which leapt at the opportunity to kick up an unnecessary stink.

Of course, anyone not living in a cave – or encased in carbonite in the bowels of Jabba’s palace like Han Solo – should know that this Lego set is modelled on buildings and characters that featured in Return of the Jedi almost thirty years ago, but to even think that this might have been considered by a bunch of zealots with nothing better to do with their time would really be pushing the boundaries of credibility. People like this don’t care a jot about facts: all that matters is their hare-brained ideology. They don’t even care how ridiculous they look.

Jabba's Palace. Or is it the Hagia Sophia?

Jabba’s Palace. Or is it the Hagia Sophia?

In this stunningly detailed analysis, the dome of Jabba’s palace building is shown against that of the Hagia Sophia, and hackles are also raised by the presence of a machine gun in what is described as a minaret. Ironic, given that in some unmentionable parts of the world very similar buildings would quite often see a proliferation of not just machine guns but grenades and high-powered rocket launchers.

Even funnier is the text pointing to the Gamorrean Guard, the olive-green hog-like character standing in the “minaret”. While all this fellow is doing is performing his duties, he is compared to the Muezzin – the person who makes the call to prayer. The translation effectively says “The Muezzin as a criminal, with an axe and machine gun”. Erm, no. It’s a fictional creature from a fictional movie standing guard in a bloody guard tower.

I’m actually surprised that those behind this nonsense didn’t highlight the fact that the Gamorrean Guard looks ever so slightly porcine: imagine that, an axe- and machine-gun carrying Muezzin who also looks a bit like a wild boar. An opportunity clearly missed.

It gets worse. In providing their analysis of the character Jabba the Hutt – the slug-like creature with a penchant for munching on frog-like creatures and having a scantily-clad Princess Leia tethered up close by – we get this gem:

Es ist offensichtlich, dass für die Figur des hässlichen Bösewichts Jabba und die ganze Szenerie rassistische Vorurteile und gemeine Unterstellungen gegenüber den Orientalen und Asiaten als hinterlistige und kriminelle Persönlichkeiten (Sklavenhalter, Anführer von Verbrecherorganisationen, Terroristen, Verbrecher, Mörder, Menschenopferung) bedient wurden.


It is clear that the figure of the ugly villain Jabba and the whole scene presents racial prejudice and vulgar insinuations against Orientals and Asians as sneaky and criminal personalities (slaveholders, leaders of criminal organizations, terrorists, criminals, murderers, purveyors of human sacrifice).

To think that for all these years I and almost everybody else assumed that Jabba was a fictional villain who cruelly kept Han Solo locked away in his basement, employed a rag-tun bunch of bizarre bounty hunters and enjoyed throwing his victims into the mouth of the Sarlacc. As C-3PO might say, how silly.

Funnier still is this observation:

Erschreckend ist auch die rot-schwarze Teufels-Fratze auf der Schachtel rechts oben, die zumindest ein augenfälliges Signal ist, dass das Spiel nicht unter dem Christbaum am Weihnachtsabend. (“Frightening is the grimacing red-black devil on the top-right side of the box, an obvious signal that this toy should not be under the tree on Christmas Eve.”)

Teufel? Devil? Oder was? Aah, they are talking about Darth Maul, another fictional character from the Star Wars movies. Thankfully there was no Darth Vader on the box, or else Lego might have also been accused of prejudice against black people with breathing difficulties. Or something.

OK, one at a push can visualise Jabba (or should that be Ali Mohammed al-Jabbah) as some fat shiekh surrounded by an phalanx of heavily armed minions and well-staffed harem, but when one sees his actual name – Jabba Desilijic Tiure – one might assume that he is from somewhere in the Balkans, possibly Bosnia. But then he is from a tribe called the Hutt, and the only place called Hutt I have actually heard of is in New Zealand.

So perhaps Jabba is an overweight, hookah-smoking Kiwi Sheikh of Bosnian descent. What a combo. You see, one can make up anything. Likewise, one can make up anything just in order to be offended by it. Dream up a couple of stories, and one can then set up some pretentious-sounding (and in all likelihood EU-funded) “foundation”/”think tank”/Quango to employ people trained in the dark arts of muck-raking and bullshitting.

In all this, I am only offended by one thing – the price. 139.99 Euros? They’re clearly having a laugh. *Does Jabba-like guffaw*

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