Is Lego engaging in racism? The brightly colored bricks that have, in the past, been hammered mainly for sexism are coming in for some serious criticism based on their “Jabba’s Palace” set and what some say are offensive themes contained within.
The Lego racism claims have come under fire for reinforcing certain negative stereotypes about the Middle East, and the Turkish Cultural Community (TCC) of Austria has issued a statement explaining why the set can appear to be racist viewed through the lens of another culture.
The “Jabba’s Palace” set (part of the Lego Star Wars franchise) that sparked the Lego racism claims has been described as rife with negative and one-dimensional stereotypes, and the TCC outlined the reasons in a statement on their website.
UK’s Telegraph quotes the group as explaining the Lego racism thusly:
“The terrorist Jabba the Hutt likes to smoke a hookah and have his victims killed… 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.”
[Editor’s note: The term “Oriental” has generally fallen out of favor in the West when describing people and not objects due to cultural sensitivities and was only left in the quote for accuracy.]
The group goes on to say of the Lego racism that parents should “not to buy toys of war or toys of discrimination” and that the set erodes the “peaceful coexistence of different cultures in Europe.”
Lego has addressed the allegations of racism, saying in a statement:
“The Lego Star Wars product Jabba’s Palace does not reflect any actually existing buildings, people, or the mentioned mosque.”
Ultimately, the upset over Lego racism is unfortunately tied to a larger issue — the massive franchise was created 30 years ago, a product of a culture less aware of how influential such media would become as well as one that was far less perceptive regarding negative stereotypes permeating Hollywood.
Do you find the Lego set racist? Should the toymaker focus on other aspects of the popular Star Wars brand?