The Early Learning Centre on Anakin Skywalker

UPDATE: Because of the amount of attention this post is getting, can I first say “Thank you”?  Then I would like to clear a few things up.
1. Yes, this was tongue-in-cheek.  I am not annoyed in any way. (Who would be?)
2. I have contacted the Early Learning Representative and informed him that this is being spread around.  I hope he appreciates it.
3. If you wish to follow me further, my Twitter account is @ozmills (opens in a new tab) – I’d appreciate hearing your thoughts on similar interactions you may have had with Customer Service.

ORIGINAL: A couple of days ago, I was walking past the Early Learning Centre (A shop for very young children in the UK) and it struck me that it was incredibly strange for them to be selling, and advertising, Anakin Skywalker toys.  Now, I didn’t really mind.  I merely thought it amusing that the murderer of “Younglings” would be thought of as a positive character in other section of the franchise, so, on a whim, I sent them an email.

They responded.  In an awesome way.

From: Ross Mills

To those responsible for choosing the toys they wish to sell at the Early Learning Centre, as well as in-store advertising.

I was recently walking past the Dundee Early Learning Centre, and was shocked and disgusted to see an advert for Star Wars toys, prominently featuring the characters Yoda and Anakin Skywalker as positive figures.

Personally, I could not be more shocked. I thought the Early Learning Centre was a place for positive reinforcement of positive actions for children, but yet, here it was, actively promoting one of the most evil characters in the Star Wars universe. Anakin Skywalker.

Now, I am aware that Anakin was not always evil, and was in-fact an innocent in Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace, however, I wish to press on you the severity of his actions starting upon joining the Jedi Order as a Padawan:

* Consistent and flagrantly ignoring the rules, orders and limits set on him by his Jedi Master, Obi-Wan Kenobi.
* Killing an entire tribe of sand-people on Tatooine
* Killing the unarmed Count Dooku
* Cutting the arm off a Jedi Knight, Mace Windu. (Need I remind you that the Jedi
Knights are the PROTECTORS of peace and justice throughout the Star Wars saga?)
* Pledging himself to the Dark Side of the force, an organisation based on the teachings of the Sith, involving Brutality, Fear, Anger, and Hatred, including severe humanistic racism when they came into power forming the Empire
* Acted as the right-hand of the Sith Emperor
* Choked his wife using the power of the Force, nearly killing her and undeniably an act which eventually led to her death.
* Attempted killing of Jedi Knight and Master, Obi-Wan Kenobi.

And, last of all, and the most important
* The massacre of an entire school of young Jedi Children.

Now, I ask you, how can you sell such toys, promoting such individuals, in your establishment?

Sincerely, Ross Mills

I realised that my language was a little strong at the start, but I hoped they would get the light-hearted message.  Luckily, they were incredibly positive about it, and this is the response I received.

Dear Mr Mills

As an avid Star Wars fan myself I can relate to your points below and see the perspective that Anakin Skywalker (in his teenage years onwards) is by no means a ‘positive’ role model, nor is he intended to be represented as such.

We sell a wide range of characters from the Star Wars universe, including stormtroopers, scout troopers, Commander Cody and so forth. With particular reference to the two former characters both are generally considered to be ‘bad’ and unlike Anakin have had no periods of being ‘good’ or ‘redemption’ and are provided to give the ‘good guys’ someone to triumph over. While ideally the Jedi Council would have no enemies and would sit in their chambers sipping Bothan rum, it’s not particularly interesting for a small child (unless of course they wish to populate their ‘tea parties’ with Star Wars characters in which case we fully endorse this!)

For a child to fully immerse themselves in the Star Wars products we sell I would hesitate a guess that said child is a fan of the Clone Wars cartoon series (the prequels and sequels being of an age most would agree is unsuitable for the age range we cater for). In this series Anakin is very much portrayed as a force of good, and our aim is to provide fans of the series with both heroes and villains so they can replay the epic battles of the show in the comfort of their own home.

It’s unlikely that children of that age have seen any of the Star Wars films, however if they have I beg to offer the following counterpoints to ‘the sins of Anakin’

* Anakin loved his mother a great deal and always treated her with respect
* Rescued his master several times from assassins, pit monsters, droid troopers etc.
* Rescued Amidalla from assassin snakes, pit monsters, the Trade Federation and even found time to romance her in the fields of Naboo
* Built C3PO
* Won the Podrace
* Killed the evil emperor to save his son
* I would also argue that if a child has seen all the films they’ll see Anakin as a hero who went wrong but ultimately paid the supreme sacrifice to atone for his sins.

There may be better role models out there for a child, but for the period our toys are aimed at (the Clone Wars), Anakin remains very much ‘hero material’ and is a popular and welcome addition to our range.

Kind regards,
Paul ********
Client Support Manager
The Early Learning Centre

So, thank you Paul.  I am sincerely sorry if I wasted your time, but you have in-fact corrected me.  Chances are that the child is mostly aware of the “Clone Wars” saga, (which, if I recall correctly, the adverts were in the same visual style as) and they are most likely not aware of Anakin’s crimes.

I am very happy that you took my message as it was supposed to be, light-heartedly, and responded in-kind.

You, Paul, are a scholar and a gentleman.

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25 Responses to The Early Learning Centre on Anakin Skywalker

  1. Rosanna says:

    Reading that put a big smile on my face. ^__^

  2. misslexywoo says:

    I have no idea about star wars as I’m
    A girl but this did really make me chuckle. Fair play to both of you. Haha

  3. misslexywoo says:

    Not that’s girls dont know about star wars… I’m just the type of girl who doesn’t. I think it was the munchkin things…. Erm… Eewoks. They freaked me out. Anyway great post.

    • Oz says:

      Despite your comment that you’re “the type of girl who doesn’t”, I don’t understand what being a girl has to do with it in any way.

  4. Clareybear says:

    I have NO clue about Star Wars, but this made me laugh out loud!

    I bet you made the guys day 🙂

  5. That’s fab… I spent my teenage years avoiding knowledge of star wars to grow up and be lucky enough to been gifted three star wars obsessed boys so now I know a lot more than I need to – ad this argument is the type of argument I’d have with them!

  6. TheBoyandMe says:

    That is hystetical and how reassuring that ELC actually pay attention to customer enquiries!

  7. I think I’m a little bit in love with you AND Paul….

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  11. Mikie Daniel says:

    I love when a company takes the time to respond to enquiries like this one, with a genuine thought out response. Does the world of good for their public image and provides us with a good laugh.

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  17. Behrooz 'Bezman' Shahriari says:

    Heya Ross,

    I assume this is the blog of the winner of Scottish game Jam?

    I’d hoped to hear about your development process during that weekend. I was considering taking a future weekend off to have my own crack at a board game, but I wouldn’t have immediate access to play testers…

    Anyway, best of luck with kick-starter when/if you go down that route. Stay funkY!

  18. AnonymousCustomerServiceDrone says:

    Without betraying any confidences, I can say that seeing this trending on over 25 websites has made ‘Paul’ very happy and slightly in awe of the enthusiasm people have shown (thanks especially to Katie Vyktoriah!). Many thanks all, glad that people took the reply in the manner in which it was intended 🙂

    • ozmills says:

      I am so very glad to read that. 🙂

      Thanks to Paul for taking the time to do something that made so many smile.

      • AnonymousCustomerServiceDrone says:

        Just don’t ever email us about Star Trek.

        1. They don’t manufacture Lego Star Trek because:
        2. It’s rubbish.

        *awaits Trekkie backlash*

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