Is It Just Me... Or Does Jar Jar Binks Deserve A Bit More Love?

Are we blaming the kindly Gungan for George Lucas's sins?

Once upon a time, Michael Jackson wanted to play Jar Jar Binks.

Think about that for a second.

The King Of Pop, friend to all the world’s children, playing the voice and mo-cap moves behind one of cinema’s most loathed characters?

It could have generated enough spluttering internet forum anger to power a small nation like Switzerland for at least week, if not longer.

At least if Jackson had been involved, I’d understand why Star Wars fans hate Jar Jar so much.

As it stands, though, I’m confused. Why does this clumsy-but-kindly Gungan from the planet Naboo stir the haters?

True his Caribbean accent, straight off a Lilt advert circa 1986, was in totally tropical poor taste. But did Jar Jar really deserve to become the lightning rod for all The Phantom Menace’s racism?

Why not Watto the money-grabbing, faux-Jewish merchant? Or the inscrutable, could-be-Japanese Neimoidians with their dastardly trade blockades?

Ahmed Best, the African-American actor cast as Jar Jar’s body and voice, never saw him as a Rastafarian Stepin Fetchit stereotype: “I just thought I was doing a funny role,” he lamented. “I didn’t know that the Jedi were a metaphor for the Man...”

Poor bugger. By rights, Best’s name should be mentioned alongside Andy Serkis and Doug Jones as one of the pioneering motion-capture actors. His turn in the gimp suit brought Jar Jar to life as a laid-back, somewhat cowardly amphibious clown with flapping fin ears and comic relief potential.

Without him there’d be no Gollum or Na’vi.

Jar Jar was a visual effects milestone.

Everyone bought him as a person, they just didn’t like his silly voice or slapstick farting.

When you consider it, that’s quite an achievement: a CG character so believable he made people want to punch his lights out.

The problem wasn’t Jar Jar. It was us. We’d waited 16 years for a new Star Wars movie and The Phantom Menace was pants.

Instead of blaming Lucas, we picked like bullies on the weakest, most harmless character around and turned him into the fall guy.

One fan snipped Jar Jar out in ‘The Phantom Edit’. Even a post-backlash Lucas bottled it and reduced his role inEpisodes II and III.

As Jar Jar would say: “How wude!”

Here’s the bottom line: Jar Jar Binks didn’t ruin Star Wars.

I know that for a fact because I was there when Star Wars was ruined. It was 1983, when I first laid eyes on an Ewok.

The Empire Strikes Back had been glorious, dark and adult. Hell, they even froze Han.

But Return Of The Jedi went off the rails the moment Leia changed out of her slave outfit and headed to Endor.

Damn those stunted, toy-store-friendly furballs. They shat all over my Star Wars love like a pack of rabid badgers who’d been force-fed warm milk and Lactulose for a fortnight.

Come back Jar Jar, you harmless fool and glorious VFX triumph. It wasn’t all your fault... Or is it just me?

VOICES OF REASON

Matthew Leyland
Jar Jar’s a technical miracle, but then so was the atom bomb. There are worse problems with The Phantom Menace, but he’s still a grating miscalculation. You know that somewhere in the Lucas archives there are plans for a TV spin-off / board game / cookery book.

Jamie Graham
No one puts all the blame on Jar Jar’s frail shoulders, but he’s the straw that broke the CG-camel’s back: a racial stereotype, a squeaky-voiced distraction and an all-round bloody pillock.

Sam Ashurst
The Ewoks had a cool song and an awesome spin-off cartoon. What’s Jar Jar got? A disturbing lollypop. Allay loo ta nuv, my friend. Allay loo ta nuv.
 

What are you feelings about Jar Jar Binks? Let us know below

Comments

    • deedeedragons

      Nov 4th 2012, 8:49

      Hmm...... How to put this..... NO! F**K NO!

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    • devilsfoxes

      Nov 4th 2012, 9:43

      Good points. The Phantom Menace was horrible from frame one. Jar Jar became so infamous because the timing of his appearance took all the underlying concern we had about the film until that point and gave it a face. Like the fridge nuking scene in Crystal Skull.

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    • dangoodfellow

      Nov 4th 2012, 9:48

      Okay, for me Jar Jar marks the point when i realised that George Lucas wasn't the talent behind so many of the characters i loved from the original trilogy.seeing what lucas came up with when he had complete control over the look, voice/dialogue and direction. jar Jar is an embarassing character, not indicative, in my opinion , of any overt racism, but of very lazy stereotyping. He is essentiaslly the shrieking cowardly black sidekick , a character type that was getting old in the Bob Hope era. The classic non human characters from the original series were all products of great actors, designers and pupeteers taking lucas' idea as a spring board and leaping off in their own directions. remember, 3PO was originally going to be a tough New York voiced charater, like the awful 'Dex' from episode 2, but Anthony Daniels took the character to a brilliant place light years away from that. we would all hate to spend five minutes in a room with 3PO, but he is immensly enjoyable to watch, where as we're supposed to fall in love with Jar jar( in a purely platonic way of course) and yet he makes want to cover my screen in marker pen whenever he's on it.( i'm not that good at video editing) Comparing the Gungans to the ewoks is no competition in my book. The Ewoks, like R2 and Chewie don't speak broken, ethnic comedy English , they can actually fight, rather than runiing away screaming, and at their first meeting with our heroes, have to be convinced not to eat them, singing happily all the while. The ewoks are represented as an alien species in its own power, and one that fights a far more brutal and at the time, shocking , battle than the Gungans making their victory feel hard won. so, in summary......NO!F**K NO!

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    • FBJRider

      Nov 4th 2012, 10:25

      Isn't most people's hate for Episode I based mainly on nostalgia and love for the first film? I watched it again the other day for the first time in around about ten years and it's not actually that bad of a film, all it takes is to not think about the original trilogy. Watch it again without thinking about how much you hate it.

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    • Hadouken76

      Nov 4th 2012, 10:56

      Most peoples annoyance- among other thing - is Lucas' insistence that the Phantom Menance is primarily for kids, not grown ups weened on the original trilogy. Fair enough, but compare the contrasting plots: Episode 4: Farmboy meets Wizard, hires Pirate to rescue princess from bad guy, rescue princess, good guys blow up bad guys fortress, the end. Episode 1: 2 Emissaries ...negotiate lifting blockade... because of a taxation on trade routes...rescues fishman, rescue not-Queen, escape to desert planet... find slave boy, find out slave boy is made of magic, wins jet race, not-Queen goes to space UN meeting, not-evil chancellor says something about a motion of no confidence, not-Queen turns out to be Queen, asks fish people to join them, big battle, magic boy is trained as good guy.

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    • lonea

      Nov 4th 2012, 12:35

      Jar Jar used to be my favourite character! I never understood the hate. I remember watching the first three movies on TV with my mother when I was little, and I can still remember my mom taking me to the movies when I was eight to see The Phantom Menace. Me and my friend actually had a crush on Jar Jar. I had this Star Wars sticker book, and we used to kiss Jar Jar's picture. Needless to say, I no longer have a crush on Jar Jar Binks.

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    • BobTheSkull

      Nov 4th 2012, 12:41

      @Hadouken, damn, man, that made me choke on my coffee.... brilliant! lol To be honest, the thing I didn't like about Jar Jar was the stupid slapstick routines he got involved in. Especially the whole part during the battle at the end. If it comes down to it though, it was actually little Jake as Anakin that put me off Phantom Menace. It just too cutesy and didn't 'fit' for me. (And I do understand that Lucas was trying to make the point that he was originally a good un before he got all Dark Sided)

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    • jacobfinlay

      Nov 4th 2012, 21:17

      the reason people hate jar jar and the whole of the phantom menace but can live with ewoks is ultimately star wars is for kids and when everyone watched the original trilogy even the appaling but cuteewoks resonated with their childish minds and so the trilogy is incredibly nostalgi of childhood. However when people came to watch the phantom menace they were adults and had adult expectations which this simple family film couldn't fulfill if you watch through a childs eyes like i did at the age of 8. Ultimately all the star wars films are brilliant - apart from ROTS which is far too dark - but especially through the eyes of children which all the criritcs and originla series fans couldn't do back in 1999 when jar jar first arrived on our screens

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    • garynolan

      Nov 4th 2012, 21:39

      The Phantom Menace was a pretty rubbish movie. Still, as a fan of the original trilogy, I've watched it numerous times out of a twisted sense of duty. I get the point with Jar-Jar Blinks, the vilification of his character was a convenient distraction from all of the other faults in the movie - of which there many. However, for me, The Phantom Menace's greatest crime was the unnecessary attempt to rationalise the Force as these teeny-weeny creatures which permeate reality; a very large infestation of germs basically. I'll never forgive Lucas for that one.

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    • dancarmody

      Nov 4th 2012, 21:47

      no.

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    • Indianabones

      Nov 4th 2012, 23:06

      Ep 1 had one redeeming feature and it was Darth Maul, rest was tripe! it does at least hold up better than the 2nd one! as I can not think of one thing I enjoyed! Jar Jar was an awful creation and thank god Lucas didn't have full control back then with the Original Star Wars

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    • writerdave87

      Nov 5th 2012, 1:23

      I'm sure I read that the allies in Return of the Jedi were originally supposed to be Wookies, but they ran out of budget/materials to make sufficient fur suits for the number of extras required. I can't remember where I read it but always seemed to make more sense to me lol.

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    • CaptainCrazy

      Nov 5th 2012, 10:38

      I'm sure if the internet existed in 1983 there would have been an even bigger backlash against the Ewoks. The only "realistic" thing about the Jar Jar character is that the idiot became a successful politician.

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    • mdc1981

      Nov 5th 2012, 12:32

      No – great bit of VFX no doubt. Abysmal character and intensely annoying. The Phantom Menace and indeed all the prequels are primary examples of lazy awful big budget film making for reasons too numerous to mention, scripting, continuity, jarring logic breaking suspension of disbelief, plotting, characterisation or lack thereof, pacing, too many p**sing light sabres, too many jedi, too much CGI, the way they’re shot, a complete lack of internal urgency powering the plot being a selection of glaring faults off of the top of my head which make them next to unwatchable for anyone over the age of about 13 or 14. Jar Jar is as mentioned above merely final slap in the face, someone really really should have just said no to George at that point. Agreed on the Ewoks, but at least you do get to see lots of them die quite horribly in Return of the Jedi. I think we can all agree that its fantastic news the George Lucas is no longer involved in the creative side of film making. For the love of god he should never be allowed to write a full script ever again.

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    • Jareth64

      Nov 5th 2012, 12:50

      He's not as mind crushingly annoying as people make out. Had the film been good then, perhaps, he would have been reasonably charming. Ish. The problem is the film's just horrendous. It's as simple as that. So he's just another prat in the Badness Machines that is the Star Wars series (minus the first three films, which are great).

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    • SiMan

      Nov 5th 2012, 14:12

      Am i the only one who wasn't actually that put off by the Ewoks. Maybe it's because when i first saw them i was a chils and going forward it was more nastalgia, but i never really had a problem with them. I though Lucas could have made a bigger point of it in the prequels that the Empire was more focused on technology, wheras the Jedi were all 'the force' and living things. Then when the saga finishes with RoJ, it comes full circle where these little muppet bears help defeat the technology based Empire.

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    • Ichi1

      Nov 5th 2012, 16:26

      UGH.....I feel like I am witnessing the death rattle of my favorite movie website. Have you really sunk into basically trolling your readers by making absurb statements obviously meant to p**s people off and then asking for a debate?

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    • gregbreen1

      Nov 5th 2012, 18:15

      They may be George Lucas's sins, but Jar-jar is the sin....

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    • jrkinnard

      Nov 6th 2012, 5:47

      People can hate on Jar Jar all they want, but the sad truth remains: He is the only memorable character created in the 3 prequels. That's not saying much, but it's true.

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    • NickyC

      Nov 6th 2012, 11:11

      Jar Jar was a technical breakthrough at the time, but technical greatness doesn't change the fact that the character is a f*cking idiot. Even the other Gungans stay away from him because he's so clumsy and annoying. I just couldn't ever believe that someone like Qui-Gon Jinn would tolerate having the village idiot come along on his adventure. Take a Gungan with you, by all means man, but don't take the one with learning difficulties. He can't help you. For f*ck sake, even Anakin seems to feel sorry for him rather than actually LIKING him. What I'm saying is Jar Jar COULD have been one of the best Star Wars characters ever, but Lucas made him stupid ... so he is and always will be an unbearable moron and the reason why I can't watch Episode 1 anymore. Sorry, but let's be honest about these things before we get another trilogy of 'fun' characters that we also want to see dead.

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    • Igrayne

      Nov 6th 2012, 19:24

      You have to be a bloody idiot to stick up for Jar Jar. I also thought Anakin was as irritating as Jar Jar but to claim that people are being irrational and only hate Episode I because of him demonstrates severe upyourownarseism. The film is a pile of c**p with or without him, the second one was c**p to so are we blaming Jar Jar for that? You lot have now stuck up for Judge Dredd and Jar Jar so what is next perhaps telling us The Wicker Man remake was good? Perhaps the most recent Three Musketeers was brilliant? P.s I do not believe all the racism c**p connected to him, nobody got upset regarding the Japanese, Russian or Hebrew references in the film, any excuse to bring racism accusations in blah blah bollocks.

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    • Igrayne

      Nov 6th 2012, 19:25

      By the way the Ewoks were a pain in the a**e but nowhere near as much of a snivelling pud monkey as Jar Jar.

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    • Andy85

      Nov 7th 2012, 21:21

      Jar Jar shouldn't be hated as much as he was. Hesa notsa thatsa badsa sa. His speech I must admit was extremely annoying, simply adding 'sa' to the end of every word does not a new language create however, the character himself did show heart, a support character that truly was an innocent. He portrayed a childlike manner of gullible optimism and for this you always felt sorry for him as if he was sheltered from the true eeeeevvvvillll of the darkside and conjured a belief that the nature of the force would carry a fortunate resolution over all else no matter where the journey took them. However, Lucas did take notice of fanboy criticism and cast the character to an even minor roll in the 2 follow ups but kept the spirit of Jar jar alive throughout each film which is to be respected.

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