Another day, another George Lucas related kerfluffle. There's an, um, interesting new character in Star Wars: The Clone Wars named Zero Ziro the Hutt. He's purple, covered in sky blue tattoos, sports a peacock feather behind his squashy head, and really digs Cher.

Ok, I made that last one up, but only just barely. Because according to MTV, Jabba's uncle, Ziro the Hutt "is a gay stereotype that makes what Jar Jar Binks represented to the island of Jamaica look subtle by comparison." It's not his look, design, or movements that push him into iffy waters, but the voice: Ziro speaks like Truman Capote.

Why? Because Lucas insisted on it. Director Dave Filoni was one of many among the crew that was caught off guard by the request. "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!' 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." That doesn't mean he's gay, insists Filoni. "He's of questionable [sexuality] at least as a slug. They tell me that these slugs can be either male or female depending. That's something I guess that slugs and snails do. I wasn't aware of that but I have continuity experts that tell me these things."

Obviously, I haven't seen the film yet, but I'm hearing a warning siren go off in my head. The prequels were rife with questionable ethnic stereotypes, particularly those Neimoidians. (I had to look that up so that those continuity experts wouldn't knock me for merely saying "those Trade Federation guys.") Why does Lucas find such things to be "interesting" characterization? Is he simply unaware of how loaded and offensive it can be, or are we getting a glimpse of how he views race and sexual orientation on a galaxy that's not so far away? I hope it's the former ....