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Burning Questions: ''Phantom Menace'' Edition

We answer everything from whether Jabba the Hutt has a girlfriend, to what was up with Jar Jar Bink's accent, and more

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Burning Questions: ''Phantom Menace'' Edition

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Who's that comely creature beside Jabba during the pod race? Could it be...Mrs. Jabba?
''Her name is Gardulla the Hutt,'' says Lucasfilm rep Jeanne Cole. ''She's a friend of Jabba's and she is female. But they're not married.'' Jabba has friends? Not likely. We say they're getting Hutt and heavy.

C-3PO and R2-D2 spend lots of time on tatooine. so how come in Star Wars they're unfamiliar with the planet?
''It's a hole we're aware of,'' says Lucasfilm's Steve Sansweet, author of the Star Wars Encyclopedia. ''It needs to be explained. George has done a vast outline, but the devil's in the details. I'd speculate it will be resolved in Episode II or III.''

Marv Albert may be an alien, but that's not his voice calling the pod race. Whose is it?
Comedian Greg Proops', a regular on ABC's Whose Line Is It Anyway? and host of Comedy Central's game show Versus. ''The voice is based on [Seattle Mariners announcer] Ron Fairly,'' says Proops. ''He tends to get things wrong a lot. I took his voice because I always thought he was hilarious.''

All right, the aliens and their accents: racial stereotyping, or just good clean Sci-Fi fun?
A touchy question. As many have pointed out, the evil Viceroys sound uncomfortably like yellow-peril Asian villains, while hook-nosed slave owner Watto has been seen as a mean-spirited caricature of a Jewish merchant. And of course there's Jar Jar, who, with his pidgin English, has been called a modern-day Stepin Fetchit. ''I don't think 'It's just a movie' is a good excuse,'' says Pallavi Sharma, editor in chief of Stir, an Asian-American webzine. ''It's important for people to recognize how these stereotypes affect us. I kept asking myself, If [Lucas] put so much energy into the movie, why couldn't he have developed those characters a little differently?'' Obviously, Lucas and company have been denying such interpretations. ''Yes, people have been talking about it,'' says Lucasfilm's Cole. ''We need to remind them that this is a fantasy world full of creatures in all shapes and sizes. All we were trying to do is have all the characters be different. Let's remind ourselves that at the end of the day, this is a fantasy.''

Originally posted Jun 11, 1999 Published in issue #489 Jun 11, 1999 Order article reprints