It’s Jar Jar Binks. You can keep reading past this point if you want, but I’m just going to rant now.
Jar Jar Binks was the first sign that the Star Wars universe was about to descend down the crapper. As a young kid, the character didn’t bother me as much since kids are consistently entertained by goofy slapstick and silly voices. I couldn’t understand why those older than me were so annoyed or even angered by his presence.
Just a few years later I found the movie nigh unwatchable whenever he had a scene in it. If Jar Jar was a part of the universe far far away, then he could stay there as far far as Jar Jar could get.
Why Lucas appreciates his Gungan monstrosity is beyond me.
“Thank you for coming to the Celebration,” Lucas said during his introduction video at the Episode 1 anniversary celebration according to IndieWire. “[‘The Phantom Menace’] is one of my favorite movies and of course Jar Jar is my favorite character. Ahmed [Best], you did a fantastic job. It was very, very hard.”
My problems with Jar Jar consist of issues both in and out of the movie.
For one, Jar Jar constantly felt like a character that was trying too hard, not just as part of his character’s personality, but as a character that was trying too hard to fill the comedic gap that C-3PO and R2D2 did so easily. When his presence wasn’t a constant burden to those around him, his helpful contributions were usually accomplished completely by accident.
This doesn’t feel like an unintentionally goofy character (he was based on Disney’s Goofy by the way), it feels like lazy writing, and for people who grew up watching R2 be sassy to an exasperated C-3PO right after saving the gang for the umpteenth time, it almost feels like Lucas was asking us to dumb ourselves down to enjoy a useless character.
In fact, so useless and unnecessarily annoying was Jar Jar that I cling desperately to the fan theory that Jar Jar was actually a supreme Sith lord the entire time, manipulating events while making his actions look like incompetence or just dumb luck. As some have pointed out, even in the Star Wars universe, no one is THAT lucky.
But let’s move beyond the movie for a second, because Lucas brought up the actor who played Jar Jar, and one of the reasons I hate the character, Ahmed Best.
Let me make it clear. I have nothing against Best. In fact, my entire issue is that I feel sorry for this guy who is obviously a massive talent, whose talents were twisted and used in such a way that it helped ruin one of the greatest franchises in the history of human existence.
Best was a member of the Broadway show “Stomp” when he auditioned for the part of Jar Jar. His voice acting for Jar Jar was so good that it was beyond annoying, and his motion capture for Jar Jar proves that he can bend and move his body in ways that would give everyone else cramps. If you really break Jar Jar down, everything down to the way he walks is very distinctive. This was a product of Best’s extraordinary abilities as a performer.
And thanks to one dumb character his life and career were absolutely ruined.
Last year, Best let everyone in on just how bad the backlash for his portrayal of Jar Jar was, indicating that he almost committed suicide as a result of the hate that came his way.
“20 years next year I faced a media backlash that still affects my career today,” tweeted Best. “This was the place I almost ended my life. It’s still hard to talk about. I survived and now this little guy is my gift for survival. Would this be a good story for my solo show? Lemme know.”
20 years next year I faced a media backlash that still affects my career today. This was the place I almost ended my life. It’s still hard to talk about. I survived and now this little guy is my gift for survival. Would this be a good story for my solo show? Lemme know. pic.twitter.com/NvVnImoJ7N
— Ahmed BEst (@ahmedbest) July 3, 2018
So not only did Jar Jar play a significant role in killing a movie, he almost was the reason a man killed himself. What’s more, he couldn’t get much work outside of being Jar Jar, and had to reprise the role repeatedly throughout the years in order to stay afloat.
Thank God he’s okay.
I don’t know why Lucas loves Jar Jar. Maybe he’s joking and he’s really only trying to prop up Best. Either way, the hapless Gungan could be frozen in carbonite and shot into the sun for all I care.