George Lucas offended racial minorities in The Phantom Menace with the Jar Jar Binks character. And now it looks like the upcoming CGI film The Clone Wars (which leads into a TV series on The Cartoon Network) is going to give us gays a chance to share that experience. One of the new characters introduced in Clone Wars is Ziro the Hutt (Jabba‘s uncle) who is, as MTV Movies’ Shawn Alder put it, "a gay stereotype that makes what Jar Jar Binks represented to the island of Jamaica look subtle by comparison."
Sadly, it sounds like the stereotyping is deliberate:
So how did a character who wasn’t even supposed to speak English wind up sounding like that? Because George Lucas insisted on it, Clone Wars director Dave Filoni confessed.
“Ziro, Jabba’s uncle, originally spoke in Hutt-ese, like Jabba and then he had a different sluggish voice just like Jabba, and then George one day was watching it and said ‘I want him to sound like Truman Capote.’ He actually said that and we were like ‘Wow!’ ” Filion revealed. “It’s a hybrid of it but the inspiration is definitely there on Capote. It’s one of those things that takes him from being an interesting character and I think really does put him over the top and does something. He’s a favorite among the crew here.”
I’ve been looking for a video clip of Ziro to judge for myself with no success. Still, if Lucas directed the Clone Wars crew to base Ziro on Truman Capote, it’s no surprise that the character is tripping some sensitivity meters. Based on the character biography found at Wookiepedia (which contains spoilers, if you care) Ziro sounds as admirable as Jabba, which makes him yet another scheming, lisping villain.
Worse, Filoni says the character is probably asexual and, therefore, not gay. So, the closest the Star Wars films have gotten to having any gay characters is a villain meant to sound like an effeminate gay man … so Clone Wars gets to play to homophobia without actually having any gay characters.
My days as a Star Wars fan ended in 1999 when I saw The Phantom Menace. Honestly, I was a little bit tired of Star Wars by then; the hype was a little too inescapable for a little too long for me. I was hoping that seeing a really cool movie would rekindle my fondness for that "long ago" and "far away" world but that hope started fading the first time Jar Jar spoke with his stereotypical accent.
I was offended by the stereotyping, but worse, they killed the wonder of Star Wars, where aliens previously felt like aliens and not characters based on a certain type of human.
Does this news affect anyone’s plans to see the movie? Was anyone planning on seeing it in the first place?