…at least not yet.
Islam has a bad rap among, well, pretty much anyone. Between the extremists, the amazing feats of architecture, the terrorist attacks, the rich intellectual and cultural history, the oppression of women in ass-backward countries, and indispensable contributions to modern science and technology, people only seem to look at some of those. This is not the blog post where I go off on a rant about how much I hate the perception of Islam in the media. This is the blog post where I go off on a rant about LEGO. I’ll leave the Religion of Peace at peace.
As denoted by the inscrutably tiny image above LEGO is not about making waves, or causing controversies. It’s simply about building. Ain’t nothing more constructive than building. And nothing brings people together quite like putting things together (let me couple my stud with your tubes).
LEGO, as far as I can remember doesn’t do anything overtly offensive, yet some people like to pick fights for no reason. Well, this is the internet, and violently antagonizing people for no reason is pretty much a handshake ’round these parts. For an example, read the YouTube comment section on pretty much any video. But this isn’t the blog post where I rant about internet trolls. This is the blog post where I talk about angry turkeys.
To solidify my point
So, if you don’t know, LEGO released a Star Wars Set, based on Star Wars Episode VI, and people got pissed. Not your typical fanboy taking to the streets because GEORGE LUCAS IS RUINING STAR WARS AND RAPING MY CHILDHOOD! Actually, they may very well have done that, but I wasn’t paying attention; I was too busy being an adult, working at a job that pays me actual money, and getting whole sorts of laid (ladies). But the fanboys’ rage, although heartfelt, was not of any real concern. At least, I don’t think it was.
The bandana hides the Dorito dust and neckbeard.
Back to the angry turkeys. You see, Muslims nowadays have this nasty habit of getting pissed off. Well, I shouldn’t generalize. Extremist groups get pissed off, and Muslim countries tend to get pissed off. Sometimes they get pissed off over something, sometimes it’s nothing. In this case, it’s a big whole big box of nine-and-a-half-thousand bite-sized pieces of nothing. You see, the Turkish government thought that this Star Wars LEGO set was offensive to Muslims. If you don’t believe me, here’s a headline I randomly screenshotted from a less-than-reputable news source.
“Terrorist”, really? Panaka specifically says “the Hutts are gangsters.” Learn the difference.
Let your eyes wander to that last, intentionally-cropped line of text. LEGO said that the Star Wars set was based on a Star Wars building in a Star Wars movie and nothing else. The building in question may or may not have originally been based on Muslim-style architecture, I don’t know. Personally, I think it looks a bit like Jabba the (literal) Hutt with a bunch of big dicks around it. But, you can see for yourself.
Pictured: iconic mosque in Istanbul?
So, the Turkish saw this, and instead of thinking: “now, I have something to put on top of my Rancor Pit“, they thought: “this offends me, personally.” The main arguments for Jabba’s Palace offending Muslims are that there are domes, and that there are shady deals going on underneath that dome. While researching this post, I learned that Muslims have a monopoly on domes. It doesn’t matter that LEGO is accurately representing a fictional building made from a fictional world (which is technically Tunisia, but that’s beside the point). If this is the backlash a company gets for making something that kinda looks like a thing, imagine how much that discouraged making that thing. Like I briefly mentioned earlier, Islam has a rich history of architecture and innovation. Coincidentally, LEGO also has a history of innovation and architecture. As much as those histories overlap in ideals, they less frequently overlap in actuality. LEGO has produced a prohibitively expensive (as someone that deals with LEGO consumers daily, this is prohibitively expensive) Taj Mahal set, and some god-awful (Allah-awful?) Prince of Persia sets.
Masha-Allah: Jake Gyllenhaal
For the record, a few of those Prince of Persia sets came with Ismaili characters, and they looked like this. I’m not saying that LEGO should set out to make Muslim-inspired sets, or minifigs that aren’t offensive, I’m simply pointing out that LEGO has no reason to make Muslim LEGO sets because of how the Muslim community treats them. As a Muslim that’s also an avid LEGO builder, I’m a little bit disappointed that the two communities don’t mesh more.
Imagine a couple LEGO Architecture sets based on the Sulemaniye Mosque, or the Kaaba, or Masyaf. Or make one of those ridiculously successful Research Institutes with the likes of al-Khwarizmi, or Ibn Sina, Piri Reis, or Hassan-i-Sabbah. It’s not very likely that LEGO is going to produce these kind of things. They cater to such a small demographic, and that demographic has all but alienated the people that can make something great along with them. At this point, it’s a one sided issue: LEGO tried and it wasn’t received well. So, until something can change in how the Islamic world interacts with everyone else, people like me are just going to keep trying to merge the two for my own enjoyment.
Anyway, I should get back to my Ismaili Fortress…