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Sunday, May 19, 2002

I suppose it had to happen sooner or later: George Lucas has been accused of employing racial stereotypes in Attack of the Clones. I didn't read the linked article all the way through (it's from The Detroit News), but I was struck by a couple of incredibly idiotic statements, both from the same person. First, that Jango Fett is obviously Latino. That's interesting, considering that the actor who plays him is a New Zealander -- which is unsurprising, given that Lucas made the movie in Australia. The casting of Temuera Morrison as Jango Fett is simply an example of using local talent. (The Empire Strikes Back was filmed in England, so take a wild guess as to what nationality was tapped when the character of Boba Fett was originally cast in 1980. And by the way, another person quoted in the article sees the Fetts as surrogate Arabs. I'm confused here. Are Arabs and Latinos the same thing?) The film's anti-Latino sentiments are apparently further revealed by one of the planet names used: Kamino, which is similar in sound to an actual Spanish word (camino, meaning "road" or "I walk"). Ummmmm....OK. The word also sounds like Tamino, which is the name of the hero in Mozart's opera The Magic Flute. Maybe Lucas is spreading anti-Mozartean propaganda. This charge is reminiscent of the flap a few years back when some people were offended by a Washington, DC government official who dared use the word "niggardly" in a sentence, despite the fact that the word does not mean anything remotely similar to the ugly epithet to which it sounds similar.

This same person, a woman named Martina Guzman who is apparently some kind of political operative in Michigan, isn't content to stop with an imagined slur against Latinos: "Jimmy Smits had all of two lines in the whole movie, and Samuel Jackson had like five. Then there's the bad guy." In the first place, Jimmy Smits played Senator Bail Organa, a character who is only introduced in this film and will have a larger role to play in Episode III when he becomes the adoptive father to Anakin and Amidala's daughter Leia. (And interestingly, Senator Organa was actually played by a white actor in The Phantom Menace, but those scenes were cut entirely and the role recast for Attack of the Clones.) As for Guzman's second statement, "Samuel Jackson had like five", this statement makes me wonder if she even saw the film at all. Jackson's character, Mace Windu, probably has the most screen time in the film after the leads (Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen, and Natalie Portman). He's a high-profile character, and Guzman's utterance here is simply stupid and ignorant. And finally, she says "Then there's the bad guy". I wonder just what she is talking about here. Is she still referring to Jango Fett? He's not even the film's main villain; that honor belongs to Count Dooku, played by Christopher Lee -- a white man.

I'm amazed that the people quoted in this article actually view the world this way, and I'm further amazed that in a city the size of Detroit, the local newspaper couldn't come up with anything more newsworthy than this. A pox on the houses of all involved.

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