July 4, 2018

"The actor who played Jar Jar Binks in the Star Wars franchise has revealed how the vicious backlash against the character left him close to suicide."

BBC reports.
At the time [Ahmed Best] was 25, and it was his first major film role.... Jar Jar Binks quickly became the most hated character in the Star Wars universe, and critics branded Best's cartoonish portrayal a dumbed-down exercise in child-pleasing - or worse, a racist stereotype with a misplaced Caribbean accent.

Best did not name the Star Wars films in his emotional post... "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."...

Actor Frank Oz, a puppeteer who voiced the Jedi master Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983), declared that he "LOVED Jar Jar Binks", adding, "I just will never understand the harshness of people's dislike of him. I do character work. He is a GREAT character!"
I stopped watching "Star Wars" movies after "The Empire Strikes Back," but it's easy enough to find clips of this character who's obviously just supposed to be very cute:



Poor Mr. Best went all out with the cuteness assignment, and then (it seems) people got squicked out by their own racial stereotypes that were stimulated. That or they just got irritated by the overuse of cuteness.

But cuteness is a big part of the "Star Wars" formula. Here, Vulture ranks all of the non-human creatures one "Star Wars" movie ("The Last Jedi") in order of cuteness. There are 10 species on this list, so the straining for cuteness is very obvious. Vulptices are ranked #1, beating out Porgs, because "the Porgs are more conventionally cute, they lack the dreamlike majesty of the Vulptices." Whatever! Don't kill yourself over it.

104 comments:

Gahrie said...

I have never understood the hate for Jar Jar.

Ann Althouse said...

The hate is the fear of being a racist.

MayBee said...

I don't want to think of myself as racist. So I'm going to hate this non-human character and hurt a real live black man.

I've always felt sorry for the actor, though I couldn't remember his name. Imagine how excited he must have been to get a big part in Star Wars!!! People need to be better.

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

The actors shouldn't kill himself, but poor jarjar might want to stand under a window near the UW campus.

Bob Boyd said...

Best should be proud. His portrayal of Jar Jar Binks made people uncomfortable without resorting to a cheap stunt like displaying soiled underpants.
If that's not art, I don't know what is.

Christopher said...

What the worst Wings songs did to McCartney's Beatles aura, Jar Jar Binks did to the Star Wars franchise, with a bonus dash of unintended racism. Rightly called "Rastafarian Stepin Fetchit" at the time.

The hate turned on the actor is epic-level stupidity. Let's face it, people are nuts.

walter said...

"squicked out" is a phrase that would normally receive an Altparse.

PM said...

SW's fanboys are notoriously brutal. However, Mr Binks was just a stupid character. The thought that he represented a race is new to me.

Chanie said...

This is a case where your lack of familiarity with a subject is affecting your assessment. Racism or fear of bring perceived racist was not the primary motivator for Jar Jar hate. The character was stupid and annoying, a distraction and detraction from the film. It was the lead example of Lucas' poorly executed attention to appeal to very young audiences and there's similar criticism of other failed attempts in the prequel trilogy that have nothing to do with perceived racism. Yes, the racism component was discussed and played a role but it was very much secondary.

J. E. Malthaus said...

Valerie Jarrett does not look like a character from Planet of The Apes.

Barack Obama does not resemble Jar Jar Binks.

Don't even think that.

-LWL

LakeLevel said...

Star Wars is a joke. It always has been. All of it. When the first one came out, I was 14 so it should have been for me right? Unfortunately (fortunately?), by that time, I had already read "The Forever War", "Stranger in a Strange Land", "Dune', and "Lord of Light". All of the ideas in all the Star Wars movies put together would not merit a single chapter in any of those books, so you can understand my disappointment. Jar Jar Binks is not any worse than any other part of the Star Wars Pantheon.

J. E. Malthaus said...

The movie came out in 1999.

The adult fans hated it because they thought it made a mockery of their idealized childhood Star Wars.

The kids who saw the Jar Jar Binks film as their first Star Wars film on TNT or TBS are becoming young adults. They do not have the Seventies and Eighties ejaculated geek residue.

Give it another five years and these kids will be the hipsters who will celebrate Jar Jar with the requisite hipster irony.

-LWL

wwww said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gahrie said...

by that time, I had already read "The Forever War", "Stranger in a Strange Land", "Dune', and "Lord of Light". All of the ideas in all the Star Wars movies put together would not merit a single chapter in any of those books,

That wasn't what Star wars was supposed to be. It was supposed to be a throwback to the pulp sci fi serials like Flash Gordon.

Oso Negro said...

I always thought Jar Jar Binks sounded more like the guy from the Indian call center who really didn't give a shit about your problem. THAT was the basis of my dislike.

Shane said...

I think the smartest thing they did was replace Ahmed Best with Ringo Starr for the sequels -not nearly so sullen, and kept much better time.

n.n said...

Binks is a gray diversity class. There were gray apes on Planet of the Apes. Probably a visual signal of late-stage evolution.

Oso Negro said...

Before they started teaching them fake American accents. Nowadays, what you want is an African-American voice answering the phone. They don't teach Indians THAT accent and there is a good chance they will actually want to help you.

Gahrie said...

Why doesn't anyone have a problem with the way Boss Nass and the rest of the Gungans spoke and looked?

Gahrie said...

I think the smartest thing they did was replace Ahmed Best with Ringo Starr for the sequels -not nearly so sullen, and kept much better time.

I saw what you did there you sly fellow......

Fernandinande said...

muslim brotherhood & planet of the mudskippers had a baby=jj,

Fernandinande said...

Awww

I love you!

Tom T. said...

The actor who played Long Duc Dong went through something similar.

Tank said...

Jar Jar seemed like fun to Tank who likes FUN.

LakeLevel said...

Gahrie: "That wasn't what Star wars was supposed to be. It was supposed to be a throwback to the pulp sci fi serials like Flash Gordon. "

Yeah it wasn't science fiction, but the Hollywood idiocracy decided that this is what science fiction was and so we got nothing but pulp for the next 30 years.

Bill Peschel said...

The Ewoks were bad enough, and they primed us for the horror of Jar Jar Binks.

The design, the name, the "meesa" ad nauseum.

I never saw the first movie. I loved the first 2 and saw through the stupidity of the third. I'm not a total fan of anything (except Nero Wolfe, Sherlock Holmes, and Dorothy L. Sayers), so it's not fanboy loathing but a rational reaction for me to dislike Binks.

I'm sorry the actor got his feelings hurt. It wasn't his fault George Lucas is a freakin' racist who was given free rein to give into his fascist fantasies.

PhilD said...

Jar Jar didn't bother me.

What bothered me that the Jedi Knights were just loathsome. For example;
- in the opening of the film. The ship they arrived on is destroyed but they don't bat an eye. A 'disturbance in the force' my ...
- later, the 'hero' Annikin and his mother are basically slaves but they free Annikin and leave his mother were she is (because he is better of without her or something)

I don't know what the message is here but I knew I didn't like it. It stunk.

Yancey Ward said...

Jar Jar was a stupid and annoying character- inexplicably so- true also of Anakin in all three movies. There seemed to be a drive to make the movies appealing to small children that started in Return of the Jedi and the Ewoks, but went way over the top with Phantom Menace. However, the characters may just be focus points for the true weaknesses of the three movies which were the terrible scripts.

FIDO said...

I am comparing the humor and characters of the first three movies with a Jar Jar.

Luke: a serious person doing serious things.

Han Solo: a smuggler who shoots first and has people trying to KILL HIM.

Leia: Her planet was just blown up, her government was just taken over and she spent her fourth scene being tortured by a robot.

C3PO: the comic foil being chased by an entire Empire. Very hard on a gay robot.

R2D2: The fixit it and the feisty 'normal' robot. He got to do most of the pratfalls, though only C3P0 also faced that a time or two. And said pratfall happened once or twice per movie and were ORGANIC to the story (eaten and spat out by monster, fixing the hyperdrive and having the acceleration remind you you forgot to put on the brakes)


Compare that with Jar Jar: a walking talking CGI buffoon with a prehensile tongue, who steps in shit, is always wrong, has speech defects and is admittedly an idiot.

C3P0 can speak 11 million languages. Jar Jar can't speak one.

We (or at least I) hate Jar Jar because he is the stupid Ewoks (A single act) wrote large and constantly over the entire new movie trilogy. Every scene with him was a pratfall.

That is not a character. That is a walking banana peel.

FIDO said...

It is always a wonder to me that Althouse posts things like this at all. She clearly despises the series for some reason (maybe she saw a pair of shorts), and has spent exactly zero time trying to understand it beyond a youtube clip.

All the new characters, including that kid who played Anakin Skywalker did not walk out of that new series unscathed.


But Mr. Best can rest assured that he is not very likely to hold onto THE most hated Star Wars character. I can think of a purple haired woman who can clearly 'best' a man at that title.

wild chicken said...

4) There are people who don't "get" both.


That would be me. Though I loved Forbidden Planet and other Space movies when I was a kid.

Jim at said...

It wasn't just Jar Jar Binks. That whole movie sucked.
Haven't seen another one since.

FIDO said...

C3P0 was witty and clever at times. He was a cartoon figure, but not to the extent that Jar Jar was. Jar Jar never had a good line like 'Let the Wookie win'.

FIDO said...

The horrifying part of the new episodes was when Obi Wan went into a bar in 'Attack of the Clones' and when offered a 'death stick' (guys...marketing!) easily mind controlled the pleb and forced him to leave the bar and rethink his life.

MIND FUCKING CONTROL.

Okay...so we can go two ways there.

A) If they are for truth and liberty, they don't go MIND CONTROLLING people for any reason except life or death. Kind of like violence.

or

B) If you are going the route of a strange and unusual society, where the 'police' are allowed to mind control everyone like Democrats and Feminists wish they could, then places like that bar shouldn't have existed at ALL, except in the mildest of fashions.

I could go either way. Not a mental rape of someone in so brusque, arbitrary and thoughtless a manner.

Michael K said...

Every long running series ends up as a child's program.

I saw "Cats" in London right after it opened and it was terrific.. In 1982 we tool six teenaged kids and it was little changed although there was more interaction with the audience. Rum Tum Tugger crawled into the lap of one of the girls.

The last time I saw it, it was all about children and the parents would bring the kids up onto the stage at intermission to meet Old Deuteronomy. It ran 21 years in the West End.

Gahrie said...

But Mr. Best can rest assured that he is not very likely to hold onto THE most hated Star Wars character. I can think of a purple haired woman who can clearly 'best' a man at that title.

What was the point behind that whole sub plot besides making a man look stupid and sexist and a woman look brave and heroic? I mean seriously why have the Holdo character in the movie at all? Besides being woke?

tim maguire said...

It's hard to say why some characters inspire loathing. I remember Robin Williams once talking about Patch Adams. Many years after it came out, he still struggled with the furious reaction. (From memory) "If you don't like a movie, fine, don't like it. But I couldn't wrap my mind around the anger, why the hate?"

For whatever reason, the general disgust with the prequels coalesced around Jar Jar. It's not the actor's fault and I don't remember anybody criticizing the actor (Jar Jar was CGI, I doubt most people realized there was an actor), but there it is. His big break was a crappy character in a movie that was a big disappointment for millions of people.

Freeman Hunt said...

That's too bad. I don't think the Jar Jar hate had anything to do with the actual character. I think it came from thinking the character didn't belong in that series of movies.

The new Star Wars movies have plenty of major problems, none of them having anything to do with Jar Jar.

Freeman Hunt said...

Another reminder that entertainers are people too. Many feel like saying hateful things about them is fine, as though entertainers are wholly separate from the rest of humanity. But they are human beings, and they read that stuff.

Sebastian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AustinRoth said...

I am among those tha believe Jar Jar was a Sith Lord, and despite Lucas later denials was meant to be the Dark Side’s Yoda.

https://www.reddit.com/r/StarWars/comments/3qvj6w/theory_jar_jar_binks_was_a_trained_force_user/

The blowback against Jar Jar nixed that idea.

Balfegor said...

There's been some similar backlash against Kelly Marie Tran, who played an irritating character in The Last Jedi. Notwithstanding media characterisation, I think 99% of the criticism has been that her character was stupid and useless, rather than "racist" as such. But the harassment of her specifically is still awfully stupid since she's just an actress who was hired for a particular role. If she went about telling directors "Hey, I think my character shouldn't exist -- maybe you should do a rewrite to eliminate my role?" she'd never work in that town again. Ahmed Best played the role George Lucas wanted him to play. If you think it's racist (or stupid), George Lucas is really the one who should be criticised, not Best.

In contrast -- all the hate for Kathleen Kennedy? That's fair. She's exercising creative direction, after all, and if you think she's taking the franchise over a cliff, I think it's perfectly fair to criticise her for it. It's the flip side of all those "woke" commentators who go around arguing that people shouldn't be allowed to enjoy their light entertainment in peace because it's inconsistent with progressive ideology. That's not necessarily the media environment I would prefer. It's just entertainment -- people should be able to enjoy whatever they like, whether it's anti-male or female-objectifying or ludicrously violent or incorporates vaguely racist minstrelsry or whatever. But there's no way we're getting back to a world where people don't feel entitled to shove their noses into other peoples' entertainment choices.

And fans will always care about how their favourite brands and media properties are developed -- the fact that they aren't just passive receptacles for whatever content-creators care to shove at them is precisely what makes them fans. You can say George RR Martin is not your bitch or whine about "toxic fandom" all you like, but people become fans because they care about these things. Maybe you think it's stupid for them to care about pop culture so much, but that emotional investment is real, and fans are going to react accordingly. Really, the line ought to be drawn at direct personal harassment. Everything else is fair game. I mean, content creators are free to say "screw you" to their fans if they don't like how fans/critics are reacting to their work, but that's the logical corollary of fans and critics getting to tell content creators "screw you" when they're pissed off at what creators are doing with their creations.

chuck said...

> It wasn't his fault George Lucas is a freakin' racist

Heh. Based on his movies, I've always thought that Steven Spielberg wished to be reincarnated as the stage designer for Nuremberg rallies. Obama's nomination in Denver was his best chance and he couldn't quite pull it off.

Sebastian said...

"the harshness of people's dislike of him"

The harshness of progs' dislike of him.

FIFH.

Anyway, as prog critics no doubt would agree, the fact that it makes people uncomfortable reinforces the artistic qualities of SW.

rcocean said...

George Lucas was always hit or miss with Comedy.

Think American Graffiti and Howard the Duck.

I don't care about Racism, "Jar Jar" was just a bad comedy sick kick.

First, he's ugly. Second, he cant' do anything.

R2D2 is cut and smart/courageous. Chewy - is a pilot etc., he's just a little grumpy and bad tempered. C3PO has a bond with R2D2 and can speak 10,000 languages.

MadisonMan said...

Yeah it wasn't science fiction, but the Hollywood idiocracy decided that this is what science fiction was and so we got nothing but pulp for the next 30 years.

It seems like you're complaining that Hollywood didn't cater to your notion of SciFi, instead preferring to make money.

I like the Jar Jar Binks as a banana peel analogy upthread. I've also thought of him as Lucy Ricardo.

I think I've seen the 'prequel' movies once -- maybe more. I'm sure my son had them memorized at one time. It's hard to get worked up over a character in a movie you see once.

WK said...

I can only imagine how Scarlett Johansson will feel in the future. First taking the role from a character of color in “Ghost in the Shell” and now taking a role from a transgender man in “Rub and Tug”. I am not sure how she lives with herself. They aren’t even CGI roles she stole.

WK said...

Maybe Laslo has been keeping tabs on Scarlett’s mental condition.

Ken B said...

I like “squicked”.

I agree with Ann that the hate Jar Jar reactions are mostly a kind of cognitive dissonance in the audience. He is after all a different species from a different planet.

No complaints about the other two actors there? They are stiff, smirking, and awkward.

FIDO said...

Lucille Ball had 900 times the talent of the writing of Jar Jar and the Prequels

FIDO said...

Liam Nissen played Liam Nissen. Ewan McGregor was the saving grace of the movies.

Everyone else was horribly stilted.

I don't hate the actors but I can hate the characters.

FIDO said...

The slur of 'mere racism' is a very shallow read.

If Mistress Althouse isn't going to do her due diligence, I wonder why she posts this nonsense.

Dagwood said...

Loren W Laurent said...

Valerie Jarrett does not look Valerie Jarrett does not look like a character from Planet of The Apes.

Barack Obama does not resemble Jar Jar Binks.



Of course not. It's Debbie Wasserman-Schnauzer who looks like Jar Jar.

loudogblog said...

The issue that I had with Jar Jar was that it seemed like the cuteness was a little too forced. I thought it was a good idea for a character, but it felt like it was aimed only at small children. Shows like Spongebob Squarepants demonstrated that you can aim your show at little kids, but still make it entertaining to adults by making the characters more human and giving them more depth. They also didn't learn the lesson of the Ewoks: Star Wars fans don't like cuteness overload.

Birches said...

Don't worry guy, you are definitely not the most hated Star Wars character now. I'm guessing it's a toss up between Rose and Holdo.

Birches said...

My daughter watched Phantom Menace for the first time when she was about 6. After about 2 minutes of Jar Jar, she said, "I hate that guy." Never been so proud as a parent. But hating Jar Jar is not the same as hating the actor. It's not his fault George Lucas is terrible.

Ralph L said...

R2D2 was cute?
Break me a fucking give!

exhelodrvr1 said...

"people got squicked out by their own racial stereotypes that were stimulated."

Damn that racism!!

Birkel said...

I prefer the theory that Jar Jar Binks was supposed to be the evil Sith Lord who was controlling Palpatine, who became the Emperor of the Empire. He has an integral and direct part in placing Palpatine in power. He is dangerous in a fight. He never misses with a blaster, even when he is firing with his feet. He is incredibly surefooted and can perform difficult jumps - just like a Jedi.

Jar Jar was important in finding Anakin Skywalker and bringing him close to the Jedi - whom Anakin eventually destroyed. Further, Jar Jar manipulated the princess who gave birth to Luke and Leia (Anakin's kids) and the Sith Lord was supposed to be able to see the future.

I think George Lucas wimped out due to the backlash against Jar Jar Binks and gave up an interesting storyline.

FIDO said...

The interesting story line was the Jedi actually being corrupt and Dukko being correct and fighting FOR the correct side.

But George went cheap on the writing and Palpatine and Dukko were hand in hand.

My disappointment was palpable.

J. E. Malthaus said...

The Star Wars backlash then: Jar Jar made the adult love of Star Wars seem juvenile and silly, like Halloween Trick-or-Treaters at the door who are a few years past reasonable Trick-or-Treat age.

To complete this analogy these Trick-or-Treaters are wearing Star Wars costumes. The same Star Wars costumes they wore in line waiting to see The Phantom Menace.

Here is my theory on the Star Wars backlash now:

(to be continued)

Jupiter said...

Ann Althouse said...
"The hate is the fear of being a racist."

I'm not following you here. Thousands of movies are made every year, with characters of all conceivable races. If you were predisposed to dislike people of Race X, you could certainly find plenty of them. Why express your "racism" by disliking someone in a weird-looking rubber suit?

But let's say you did. How would that dislike ("hate", if you prefer) be "the fear of being racist"? It would, by our rather absurd hypothesis, be the result of being racist. But where does fear come into it? Plenty of people are afraid of being called racist, for good reason. But are there really people who are afraid of being racist? And do they express that fear by hating characters in movies?

J. E. Malthaus said...

(continued)

Here is my theory on the Star Wars backlash now:

Yes, the SJW issue is there, but times change: James Bond was Sean Connery, until he was Roger Moore, the Jar Jar Binks of Bond.

But this would not have mushroom-clouded if two prior related events didn't occur -- one in the old movies, one in the new.

Years after the original Star Wars film, Lucas re-edited the movie for later viewings -- specifically, the Han Solo/Greedo cantina scene:'Han Shot First' etc etc. I am not going to rehash this -- if one is interested you can read the details on Wiki.

This event made the fanboys suspicious of the behind-the-scenes players: they were willing to change the actual movies to fit their current social awareness. More importantly, they did this to Han Solo.

When people think of Star Wars they probably first think of Luke Skywalker: he was the avatar for the kids in the audience, wanting to leave their dreary small-town life for adventure and a sense of importance.

But it is Han Solo who made the franchise.

The little kids pictured themselves as Luke Skywalker until they hit puberty: at that point they desperately wanted to be Han Solo.

They wanted to be the bad-ass, the cool guy with the cool ride with Chewbacca riding shotgun, the space-pirate who -- when a woman says she loves him --replies "I know."

Sure, Luke's light-saber was great -- until you hit puberty and realized the joy in your own light-saber. Han Solo didn't need a light-saber: he fucking had one -- in. his. pants.

Which brings us to the recent movies. Where they kill Han Solo.

The fans saw their dream-self in Han, and they killed him: thus, symbolically, the 'new' Star Wars makers killed their fans.

If Luke had been killed he would easily fit into into a martyr role, and the story goes on. But they killed the guy who had the Millenium-fucking-Falcon, the baddest muscle-car in the universe.

And who kills Han? A glorified punk-ass kid. Sure, they ladled story-mythos syrup on this, but still: he's a fucking punk-ass kid -- Han should've bitch-slapped him.

To fit his iconic status Han should've gone down in a blaze of glory, taking out a thousand men before his ammo ran out -- and then Chewbacca would've fucking gone King Kong on the survivors. But no, Han loses to a punk-ass kid, and now some young chick we just met takes over his Space-Camaro and Chewbacca is her bitch.

So: the film-makers symbolically kill the old fans and replace their idol with a young girl, who symbolically represents the new fans the film-makers want.

Every action after this sequence takes place in this context: the old fans feel they are being willfully replaced: they are being re-edited to fit a new narrative.

Note that I am not saying this is right or wrong, a smart business decision or a dumb one -- just that this is the framework for the old Star Wars fans today.

For those who might not quite buy this thesis, consider this:

How many actors from the original Star Wars went on to become big stars?

Yep. Just the guy who then became Indiana Jones, Jack Ryan, Rick Deckard, Richard Kimble and the fucking President of the United States, kicking ass on fucking Air Force One.

What the original fans saw -- and identified with -- in Han Solo is what audiences saw in Harrison Ford, and made him a star for decades.

It was bad enough a few years ago for Harrison Ford to be saddled with Shia LaBeouf in the last Indiana Jones movie -- but they doubled down in Star Wars, and now they had the 'Shia LaBeouf' dude fucking kill Han Solo.

"I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of fanboys suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced."

-LWL

loudogblog said...

Bill Peschel said, "The design, the name, the "meesa" ad nauseum. " I will admit that the whole "meesa" thing did remind me of the way that minority servants and slaves used to talk in the movies over 50 years ago. It did call back to those racist caricatures, so I can see why people would see racism and be very uncomfortable with that.

Quaestor said...

One may loathe Jar Jar Brinks the same way one loathes Lawrence O'Donnell. There's no racism in my disgust of every molecule of O'Donnell's being; his very presence on the Material Plane I hold to be an affront to Natural Law. But I don't hate the Irish. (Well, not enough to do anything about it... I'm not plotting a Gaelic final solution or anything.) By the same token, I also loathe and despise Howard the Duck, but I'm no anti-Semite. I'd nurse a grudge against anyone who stole 90 minutes of my all too brief duration the way that pintailed schmendrik ripped off my life. Binks is another Howard.

I have no animosity toward Ahmed Best, at least I didn't until now. If someone pointed him out and said, "See that guy? He voiced Jar Jar Brinks," my reaction would have been pity. Imagine being a voice actor and having that lead balloon foisted on you, would have been my response. I have no idea who was inside the duck suit, and I could not care less. Just another minor actor who probably should look for another line of work. What I hate is the character. (I also despise Mickey Mouse, Speedy Gonzales, Jerry the Mouse, and especially Itchy. I have no sympathy for those parasitic vectors of disease. Quaestor roots for the cat as a rule.) However, if the guy in the duck suit came forward and whined about his chosen fate, as Best has done in the matter of Jar Jar Brinks, I'd have second thoughts about not hating the actor.

Lucien said...

As some have pointed out upthread, Star Wars actually started going downhill with Return of the Jedi. The Ewoks, Boba Fett being swallowed by the Sarlaak which then burps, Chewie making a Tarzan sound as he swings onto one of the Imperial walkers... it was all just silly. I was a teenager at the time and loved it on first viewing because of the effects and because, hey, more Star Wars. But after a while I realized it wasn’t great and the prequels continued the trend.

Ultimately Lucas was at his best when he was small time and had to kowtow to the studio, who reined in his worst impulses. Once he became GEORGE LUCAS and they couldn’t control him, it all went to hell.

Lucien said...

And don’t get me started on the retcon in Jedi that Luke and Leia are siblings. It’s clear from the way they shot Leia kissing Luke in both Star Wars and Empire that no one had that plot twist in mind originally.

Rusty said...

The only charachter even more annoying was that fucking little kid. I really wanted that pod racer to crash and burn.
For the best review of the whole series see ; Red Letter Media On youtube. Vastly more entertaining than the prequel.

Ken B said...

Jupiter
You have Ann's claim 180 degrees backward. People who believe themselves free of racist bigotry react to aspects of JarJar that they recognize as being a manifestation of their own racial prejudices. This excites a horror within their breasts. Who, me, racist reactions? This leads them to hate JarJar.

Ken B said...

I liked the first one, despite the Force twaddle, because it was a fast, fun, unpretentious movie. Every one since then has sucked, including the ones I have not seen. Sucking is pretty much as good as it gets for Star Wars. Some aren’t even that good.

Michael K said...


Blogger Lucien said...
As some have pointed out upthread, Star Wars actually started going downhill with Return of the Jedi.


You do know that Lucas ex-wife, Marcia, was the one who made the first three good.

Marcia, who won the 1977 Academy Award for Film Editing along with Richard Chew and Paul Hirsch for her work on Star Wars, was instrumental in shaping the film’s iconic moments that would propel it to the status of cultural phenomenon.

In his 2008 book,The Secret History of Star Wars, journalist Michael Kaminski dedicates an entire chapter to Marcia Lucas, nee Griffin, who was once described by biographer Dale Pollock as the director’s “secret weapon”.

Marcia, who had edited Martin Scorsese’s Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore and Taxi Driver, as well as Lucas’ earlier American Graffiti with Verna Fields, for which the pair earned an Academy Award nomination in 1974, first met Lucas in 1967.


After Marcia should be the switch point in the story of Star Wars.

Michael K said...

Nobody knows how much she got in the divorce but she has kept her word and did not try to claim any credit. I assume she was well rewarded.

Black Bellamy said...

Let us never forget that Jar Jar was easily manipulated by Darth Sidious into proposing emergency powers for the Chancellor, which led directly to the Clone Wars, which led directly to the construction of the Death Star and the destruction of Aldreraan. That's why people hate him. It's not racist. He's a dumb, clumsy, annoying, easily manipulated clown who started a chain of events that killed billions of people.

Narayanan said...

Plot motivation ...
Far into the future, elite woman not able to deliver baby safely!!!!????
No scientific progress?
But Can build death star!!!

Paul said...

Ahmed Best? Jar Jar? Well poor baby. He took the job as more than just a job. May the farce be with him.

rcocean said...

ITs amazing we're still talking about Star Wars in 2018. I thought "Star Wars" was done in 1984 with "Return of the Jedi".

The next three movies were terrible.

And then Lucas sold out to Disney. Who then did a "reboot" aka ripoff of the 1st movie. And then we got a 2nd move that was worse than the first.

All we're left with now, is a "Brand name" and a frame work for making movies about Space Fantasy.

rcocean said...

Jar Jar isn't 'Cute'

He's fucking ugly and looks weird.

Why did Lucas think people would like him?

Narayanan said...

On the theory that director's alter ego is one of the characters, who's it for Lucas?

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

The first 3 star wars movies were popular for a reason. Back in the 70's-early-80's, despite the wretched dialog, the movies thrilled us and left us in anticipation for the next installment because so much was right about them. The story, the effects, the good v evil IN SPACE. That's no moon.
Come on - they were great esp if you were a youngster back then. Yes - the dialog was simplistic and cliche, but the movies and the theme music made it all worth the line around the block.

the pre-q's are terrible. The slick animation took the place of the clunky old style miniature models and made them too modern, for a going back in time tale. The story telling lacked and there was Lucas' horrible dialog again. The JarJar pile-on is unfortunate and I blame Lucas.

Perhaps Lucas should consider ending it all?

Unknown said...

I can sympathize with Best, it probably was his biggest role, but it's not like when he walks down the street, people look at him and say "HEY! You're Jar Jar Binks!"

Gahrie said...

Perhaps Lucas should consider ending it all?

Not his choice anymore...but Disney might be killing it for him.

n.n said...

Conflation of logical domains (i.e. science and fantasy) can engender cognitive dissonance and thoughts of self-abortion.

rcocean said...

the pre-q's are terrible. The slick animation took the place of the clunky old style miniature models and made them too modern, for a going back in time tale. The story telling lacked and there was Lucas' horrible dialog again. The JarJar pile-on is unfortunate and I blame Lucas.

It an iron law of Hollywood, that the more sequels you make, the worse the movies.

Who knows why. But Lucas proved the law true.

Maybe the first 3 were good because of other peeps or sheer dumb luck. Or maybe Lucas got older and ran out of ideas. Or maybe he was focused in on $$$ and how much $$$ he could get out of Jar-Jar binks merchandise.

Josephbleau said...

This guy reminds me of the tragic story of Gumby, I AM GUMBY! I was supposed to be rich and famous! I put in the 3 weeks! where did it get me!

Zach said...

Jar Jar wasn't the greatest character, but it was more that he was the most memorable new character in a movie that was a huge disappointment.

Jar Jar isn't really any worse than the Ewoks, but people mostly like that movie, so they give the Ewoks a pass.

William said...

Carrie Fisher died before she could suffer the blowback from that last SW movie. Her Mary Poppins moment was just silly, but no one wants to speak ill of the dead so they don't mock her. Funny how they missed the chance to give her a heroic and tragic death in that universe, but here in this universe she screws up the plot lines and croaks.......I think Carrie was the best Star Wars Princess. She had a sense of fun and adventure. Her acting was more cosplay than Shakespearean. Her bad acting was kind of endearing and drew you into the game.

chuck said...

> Jar Jar isn't really any worse than the Ewoks

That's sort of like saying he isn't any worse than the bubonic plague; small comfort. The Ewoks killed the franchise for me, it was a horrible, wretched death. I haven't seen a Star Wars film since.

William said...

Ned Beatty had perhaps the most post traumatic stress from any movie role. He was the guy who was told to squeal like a pig in Deliverance. He couldn't go out in public without being requested to squeal like a pig by his many fans and well wishers. That girl in Last Tango in Paris also had a hard time. People thought it was amusing to wave sticks of butter at her. That really happened a lot. She was almost literally raped in that movie and then she had to endure years of people publicly mocking her rape scene.......Anthony Perkins was finished as a romantic lead after Psycho. He was just way too believable as a serial murderer in that movie.

J. E. Malthaus said...

Dude, you were just Jar Jar Binks, a child's character in a big movie.

Sure, it will be the lead in your obituary, but it could be worse.

Like the Guardian's obituary of Lynda Lovelace including the dog-fucking part of her oeuvre.

From an imdb review of one of the films in question:

Dog 1 (1971)

Attempting to attach any sort of star "rating" to a "film" like this would be pointless. If you thought Divine crossed the line during the ending to PINK FLAMINGOS then you really haven't seen anything as this early Linda Lovelace (DEEP THROAT) flick features her having sex with a German Shepard....

...The short runs around 20-minutes and features Lovelace doing everything you can think of to this dog and the dog is doing it in return as well. I couldn't help but wonder what on Earth Lovelace was thinking. I know in later years she accused various people of drugging her in DEEP THROAT but she certainly doesn't appear drugged here and often times it appears she's really into what she's doing...

...There are several times when the dog appears to be trying to get away yet she pulls him back into the action before he finally gets into it. There are numerous sex scenes and in the end this is just a really pointless film....


So: by playing Jar Jar you screwed the pooch. But at least you didn't do it literally, and on film.

-LWL

Joe said...

Jar Jar, like the Ewoks, became the embodiment of the infantilization of Star Wars. The original two movies were solid teenage action adventure movies. This isn't to say pre and post teens couldn't like them, but that this was the primary audience.

Somewhere around Empire Strikes Back, Lucas fully realized that merchandising made far more money than the movies. As I understand it, the original conception of the Ewoks were as noble savages. Though some scripts for Jedi apparently made the Ewoks rather nasty, Lucas clearly was having none of it for one reason, and one reason only; merchandising. Except teenagers, especially teenage boys, aren't that much interested in teddy bears. This was the first sign that Lucas was shifting the target audience down significantly.

(For the record; Ewoks is when Star Wars "jumped the shark" for me, with the final nail being that closing scene so cheesy, I refused to watch it when my kids were watching the series on VHS.)

Jar Jar Binks was an even more craven attempt at merchandising to young children at the expense of the teen market. It's only gotten worse. The Porg, for example, were pure marketing. All in all it showed a contempt for the very people who made Lucas a billionaire. Then Kathleen Kennedy doubled down. The best thing you can say is that she saved us from Lucas's vision of the final three movies, but only barely; she repeated the same error as Lucas--showing utter contempt for the audience.

Jar Jar Binks, above all, still symbolizes that contempt.

Zach said...

The entire idea of resurrecting old franchises is complicated. You're trying to appeal to an audience that is 30 years older than they were when the first films came out. In this case, it's an audience that spent a lot of that time interacting with those films in their own way. There's a lot of potential for disappointment.

rcocean said...

Ah Hello?

The Ewoks were cute. They may have been a complete cash grab but Lucas - and given a role purely because of $$$ - but they were cute little teddy bears with spears.

Jar Jar was just plain dumb. And ugly.

rcocean said...

That's what's so puzzling about Jar Jar.

Why did Lucas - the guy who approved C3P0, R2D2, Chewy, Ewoks and Yoda, think "Jar Jar" was funny and cute?

narciso said...

Yes they were the first furry Vietcong, replacing the awoke. Of course Sen jar jar votes for the clone army,

Balfegor said...

Re: Joe:

Somewhere around Empire Strikes Back, Lucas fully realized that merchandising made far more money than the movies. As I understand it, the original conception of the Ewoks were as noble savages. Though some scripts for Jedi apparently made the Ewoks rather nasty, Lucas clearly was having none of it for one reason, and one reason only; merchandising. Except teenagers, especially teenage boys, aren't that much interested in teddy bears

What are the respective merchandising figures really, though? GI Joe and Transformers were the major boy-oriented toy lines I remember from my youth growing up in the US in the 1980's. After them, people liked stuff like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and I don't really know what else. All those sold pretty well without having a lot of "cute" furry creatures you could turn into dolls.

You'd think that lines of Star Wars playsets with plastic action figures and vehicles and all that would sell pretty well for Star Wars. For slightly older children, there were plastic model kits -- I think Revell used to make them, but Bandai has actually started selling snap model kits which look very high quality (they have honed their plastic-model technology with almost 40 years of Gundam toys). I don't think they needed Ewoks from a marketing perspective, did they? I guess they were incremental, not a substitution.

From a cuteness perspective too, you don't need something small and furry either. Just make a cute version of an existing character. Perhaps that hadn't yet occurred to toymakers back in the 1980s.

Known Unknown said...

"Ultimately Lucas was at his best when he was small time and had to kowtow to the studio, who reined in his worst impulses."

Lucas was his best when his first wife Marcia was involved in his story plotting and development. She was an editor who worked on American Graffiti, Taxi Driver, Star Wars and New York, New York. She won 2 Oscars. She was his conscience and a guard against those terrible impulses. Of course, nothing good lasts and they divorced in 1983 while he was making RotJ.

Known Unknown said...

"Why did Lucas - the guy who approved C3P0, R2D2, Chewy, Ewoks and Yoda, think "Jar Jar" was funny and cute?"

No one was left at Lucasfilm to tell him no.

Ralph L said...

They hoped furry Ewoks would appeal to girls as well as boys, whom they figured they had already. This is probably true of a lot of TV crime shows, too, which is why nearly all degenerate into drama and soap opera about the cast and less about crime.

tim in vermont said...

Jar Jar was racist and cloying at the same time.

Static Ping said...

Part of the Jar Jar backlash is The Phantom Menace was such a disappointment. Of course, part of the reason it was such a disappointment was Jar Jar himself, a bumbling not especially entertaining annoyance shoehorned into the plot specifically to appeal to children. However, he is not the only reason. If anything, The Attack of the Clones, which has significantly less Jar Jar, is even worse.

At the climax of the movie there are four different action sequences going on. Three of them are taken (mostly) seriously as desperate dangerous situations while the fourth is Jar Jar Binks leading the Gungan army in an open field battle. Jar Jar acts like a brain damaged cartoon character, switching between cowardice and combat effective clumsiness. By the end of it you very much get the impression that Jar Jar should have died long ago in an accident with a pair of scissors and the only reason he remains alive is George Lucas won't let him die. It hurts the suspension of disbelief.

In The Clone Wars cartoon TV show Jar Jar still is the goofy klutz, but they manage to redeem him by making him brave. Furthermore, he is sometimes outright competent when put in an environment that he is better suited, like underwater combat. It also helps that the other characters know he is a goofy klutz and sometimes use that to their advantage. (Once Jar Jar managed to take out a squad of tanks through pratfalls, effectively weaponizing his main drawback.)

But, yeah, abusing the actor in this case is wrong. I am sure he gave the performance that George Lucas wanted. Much of the problem with the prequels go straight to Mr. Lucas. The actors gave him what he wanted and what he wanted was not good at all.

And I'll take Jar Jar over Admiral Holdo any day.

Jupiter said...

Ken B said...
"You have Ann's claim 180 degrees backward. People who believe themselves free of racist bigotry react to aspects of JarJar that they recognize as being a manifestation of their own racial prejudices. This excites a horror within their breasts. Who, me, racist reactions? This leads them to hate JarJar."

Is that what she meant? I'm not seeing it. Aren't you saying that they are secretly (gasp) racist, but don't know it? Why would it take a guy in a rubber suit to reveal this hideous truth? I guess you had to be there, and I wasn't.

Dan in Philly said...

He went full cuteness. Everyone knows you don't go full cuteness.

mikee said...

Several decades from now, some version of Pawn Stars will feature an elderly woman bringing in her late husband's vast collection of Star Wars Action Figures. The pawn shop owner will talk about remembering the Han Solo, and the woman with the cinnamon buns on her head, and the wise old man.

And then they'll pick up a Jar Jar Binks boxed figure. She'll ask, "So, is it valuable?" And he'll reply, "No, it was crap then, and it is just rare crap now."

Char Char Binks, Esq. said...

"Binks is a gray diversity class."

Wait, which Binks do you mean?