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Jar Jar Binks

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Jar Jar Binks
Star Wars character
Jjportrait.jpg
Jar Jar Binks in Attack of the Clones
First appearance
Last appearance
Created byGeorge Lucas
Portrayed byAhmed Best (motion capture, some body close-ups, Episodes I-III)
Voiced byAhmed Best (most media)
B.J. Hughes (three episodes of The Clone Wars)
Phil LaMarr (Lego: The Padawan Menace)
Trevor Devall (Lego: The Yoda Chronicles and Lego: Droid Tales)
Information
SpeciesGungan
GenderMale
OccupationGeneral in the Gungan Grand Army
Representative of the Gungan race
Senator of Chommell Sector (substituting for Padmé Amidala)
Entertainer
AffiliationGungan Grand Army, Galactic Republic, Galactic Senate, Delegation of 2000, Galactic Empire, Imperial Senate, New Republic
HomeworldNaboo

Jar Jar Binks is a fictional character from the Star Wars saga created by George Lucas. A major character in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, he also has a smaller role in Episode II: Attack of the Clones, and a one-line cameo in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, as well as a role in the television series Star Wars: The Clone Wars. The first fully-computer generated character in a live-action film,[1] he has been portrayed by Ahmed Best in most of his appearances.

Jar Jar's primary role in Episode I was to provide comic relief for the audience. He was met with an overwhelmingly negative reception from both critics and audiences, and is recognized as one of the most hated characters in Star Wars and the history of film in general.[2][3]

Conception

George Lucas was inspired to develop Jar Jar based on the Disney character Goofy.[4] Singer Michael Jackson wanted to play the role, but wished to portray the character using prosthetics while Lucas wanted him to be all CGI. Ahmed Best, who would end up playing the character, later hypothesized that Lucas might have felt uncomfortable with the thought of the singer's casting overshadowing the actual movie;[5] Best was chosen based on his work in the production of Stomp as Lucas wanted someone athletic for the role.[6] During his audition he performed several martial arts moves and flips, which according to Best was a contrast to how Lucas pictured the character, more in line with comedic silent actors such as Buster Keaton.[6] After Lucas walked out of the audition, Best felt he had failed it.[6] Terryl Whitlatch created the final designs for the "cowardly and insecure" character.[7]

Appearances

Films

The Phantom Menace

Jar Jar Binks first appears in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace as a bumbling, foolish Gungan from the planet Naboo. He is nearly killed by a Federation transport, only to be saved at the last minute by Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson). Qui-Gon and his padawan, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor), persuade Jar Jar's tribe to release him to their custody as a guide. He later goes with the Jedi and Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman) to the planet Tatooine, where he meets and befriends Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd).

Jar Jar later appears in the film's climactic battle scene, where he leads his fellow Gungans, as a general in the Gungan army, in defeating the Trade Federation. After the battle, he appears at the funeral of Qui-Gon Jinn and in the ending parade with his fellow Gungans.

Attack of the Clones

Jar Jar's role in Attack of the Clones is much smaller, but his actions are significant. Ten years after helping to save his planet, he is a delegate to the Galactic Senate and as such, plays a role in bringing his old friends, Obi-Wan and Anakin (Hayden Christensen) back to Coruscant, where he greets them with enthusiasm. Later, on the behalf of the Naboo, he gives a speech to the assembled Senate in favor of granting Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) vast emergency powers. These are granted, giving Palpatine the power he needs to subsequently overthrow the senate and bring the galaxy into the dictatorial control of the Sith's Galactic Empire.

Revenge of the Sith

Jar Jar appears in only a few scenes in Revenge of the Sith, and has no dialogue (besides a brief "'scuse me" at one point). He was originally given some dialogue in the beginning, but this was cut.[8] He is most prominently featured in Padmé Amidala's funeral procession at the end of the film, marching sadly behind her coffin alongside Boss Nass.

Television

The Clone Wars

Jar Jar Binks is a supporting character in the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, once again voiced by Best, although BJ Hughes voiced the character in three season one episodes. In this series, he is a Senate representative who sometimes accompanies the main characters—Anakin, Ahsoka, Obi-Wan, and Padmé—on their adventures. He and master Mace Windu are the two main characters of the two-part episode "The Disappeared" in which they had to search for missing elders and rescue a queen, who was Jar Jar's past love interest.

Literature

Chuck Wendig's 2017 novel Star Wars: Aftermath: Empire's End, set after the events of Return of the Jedi, finds Binks as a street performer who entertains refugee children but is loathed by adults who blame him for his part in the rise of the Empire. Chris Taylor of Mashable wrote that the situation reflects real life in that adults disliked Jar Jar in the prequel films, but children were entertained by him.[9][10]

In an interview, director J.J. Abrams suggested that Jar Jar's death might be referenced in Star Wars: The Force Awakens,[11] but this did not happen.[12]

Legends

With the 2012 acquisition of Lucasfilm by The Walt Disney Company, most of the licensed Star Wars novels and comics produced since the originating 1977 film Star Wars were rebranded as Star Wars Legends and declared non-canon to the franchise in April 2014.[13][14][15]

In the game Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, Jar Jar is shown to have been frozen in carbonite by Darth Vader and kept in the Sith's lair.

Other appearances

Binks is a Lego mini-figure in the Lego Star Wars video games, and appears as an Angry Bird with a hook move called "Jar Jar Wings" in Angry Birds Star Wars II. Ahmed Best was signed on to portray Binks in the show Star Wars Detours.

Reception

Even before the release of The Phantom Menace, Jar Jar Binks became the subject of a great deal of media and popular attention. After the film's release, Binks became symbolic of what many reviewers such as Brent Staples (The New York Times),[16] David Edelstein (Slate),[17] and Eric Harrison (Los Angeles Times)[18] considered to be creative flaws of the film. The character was widely rejected and often ridiculed[19] by people who felt that Jar Jar was included in the film solely to appeal to children. Bruce Handy of Vanity Fair wrote that "Jar Jar has come to symbolize what many fans see as the faults of the prequel trilogy: characters no one much cares about; a sense of humor geared toward the youngest conceivable audience members; an over-reliance on computer graphics; and story lines devoted to the kinds of convoluted political machinations which wouldn’t have been out of place in adaptations of I, Claudius or The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, but which fit less snugly in films with characters like Jar Jar Binks."[20] One fan, Mike J. Nichols, created and distributed, free of charge, a modified version of the film, entitled The Phantom Edit, which cut out several scenes featuring what Nichols dubbed 'Jar Jar antics.' The character was also lampooned on an episode of the television show South Park entitled "Jakovasaurs", in The Fairly OddParents (Episode: "Abra-Catastrophe!"), The Simpsons (Episode: "Co-Dependent's Day"), as well as the parody Star Wars episodes of Robot Chicken, in which Best reprised the role in voice-over form.[21]

Along with film critics, many have also accused the film's creators of excessive commercialization directed at young children (a criticism first leveled with the introduction of the Ewoks in Return of the Jedi).[19] Star Wars creator George Lucas stated that he feels there is a section of the fanbase who get upset with aspects of Star Wars because "the movies are for children but they don't want to admit that... There is a small group of fans that do not like comic sidekicks. They want the films to be tough like The Terminator, and they get very upset and opinionated about anything that has anything to do with being childlike."[22]

In July 2018, Best said that the widespread criticism of his character had led to him considering suicide.[23]

In April 2019, during the annual Star Wars Celebration event ahead of the 20th anniversary panel for The Phantom Menace, George Lucas named Jar Jar as his favorite Star Wars character.[24][25]

Allegations of racial caricature

Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal described the character as a "Rastafarian Stepin Fetchit on platform hoofs, crossed annoyingly with Butterfly McQueen."[26] Patricia J. Williams suggested that many aspects of Jar Jar's character are highly reminiscent of the archetypes portrayed in blackface minstrelsy,[27] while others have suggested the character is a "laid-back clown character" representing a black Caribbean stereotype.[28][29] George Lucas has denied any racist implications.[30] Ahmed Best also rejected the allegations, saying that "Jar Jar has nothing to do with the Caribbean".[31]

Speculations of villainy

In late October 2015, a Reddit user by the name of "Lumpawarroo" published a detailed theory speculating that Binks was originally written as a major antagonist of the series, a manipulative, prominent collaborator of Palpatine, before being written off from his major villain's role due to the character's initial (and ongoing) negative reception.[32] This theory was related to an earlier interview with Jar Jar's actor Ahmed Best in /r/IAmA, where he claimed that Jar Jar had been displaced from the story's main focus due to the backlash, implying at the same time that the hate received by the character was not entirely unintentional.[33]

The post quickly became viral and received significant media coverage internationally by independent bloggers and major news outlets like The Guardian, The Washington Post, and The New York Times, which included analysis of his actions in The Phantom Menace and gave him the nickname of "Darth Jar Jar".[34][35][36][37] Journalist Andrew Street from The Guardian called it a "classic twist", comparing it to Yoda's role in The Empire Strikes Back, while Matt Hickey from Forbes came to the extent to contact George Lucas about the question, only to receive no answer.[34]

In response to the speculations, actor Ahmed Best tweeted, "I will say this, it feels really good when the hidden meaning behind the work is seen. No matter how long it takes," apparently confirming the theory.[38] Some months later, he expanded upon his tweet in a YouTube interview, stating, "there is a lot about it that is true, there are some things about it that are not true... Could Jar Jar have evolved into that? I think the answer is yes. Because of the backlash, and rightfully so, Lucasfilm backed off of Jar Jar a lot, but a lot of the influence that I put into the character mirrored a lot of what was already in the Star Wars universe." Best concluded only George Lucas could unveil the actual role of Binks, yet he also revealed that a deleted scene from Revenge of the Sith would have shown Palpatine darkly confiding his plans about the Empire to Jar Jar.[39]

References

  1. ^ Placido, Dani Di. "Jar Jar Binks Actor Claims His Role In Cinema History Has Been Forgotten". Forbes. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  2. ^ MARIKAR, SHEILA; HERON, LIZ. "The Top 10 Worst TV and Film Characters". ABC News. Retrieved August 22, 2014.
  3. ^ Kim, Wook. "10 Things We (Still) Kinda Hate About The Phantom Menace". Time. Retrieved August 22, 2014.
  4. ^ Schwerdtfeger, Conner (December 18, 2015). "Jar Jar Binks Was Inspired By This Classic Disney Character". Cinemablend. Retrieved December 20, 2016.
  5. ^ Britton, Luke Morgan. "Michael Jackson wanted to play Jar Jar Binks in 'Star Wars'". NME. Retrieved December 14, 2015.
  6. ^ a b c Godfrey, Gavin. "The Actor Who Played Jar Jar Binks Is Not Sorry". Vice. Retrieved December 14, 2015.
  7. ^ Bouzereau, Laurent; Duncan, Jody (1999). The Making of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. Ballantine. pp. 18, 25. ISBN 0-345-43111-1.
  8. ^ Lucas, George. "Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith Script". IMSDb. Retrieved March 17, 2013.
  9. ^ Taylor, Chris. "Revealed: What really happened to Star Wars' most hated character". Mashable.
  10. ^ Breznican, Anthony. "New Star Wars novel reveals fate of Jar Jar Binks". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 17, 2017.
  11. ^ Hooton, Christopher. "Jar Jar Binks is going to be killed off unceremoniously in Star Wars: The Force Awakens". The Independent. Retrieved May 23, 2015.
  12. ^ "Jar Jar Binks Killed By Star Wars: The Force Awakens?". Moviepilot.com. December 23, 2015. Retrieved December 20, 2016.
  13. ^ Hood, Bryan (December 15, 2015). "Why Disney Blew Up More Than 30 Years of Star Wars Canon". Bloomberg. Retrieved November 29, 2016.
  14. ^ "The Legendary Star Wars Expanded Universe Turns a New Page". StarWars.com. April 25, 2014. Retrieved May 26, 2016.
  15. ^ "Disney and Random House announce relaunch of Star Wars Adult Fiction line". StarWars.com. April 25, 2014. Retrieved May 26, 2016.
  16. ^ Staples, Brent (June 20, 1999), "Shuffling Through Star Wars", The New York Times, pp. WK4
  17. ^ Edelstein, David (May 19, 1999), "Dark Side Lite", Slate, archived from the original on March 6, 2000
  18. ^ Harrison, Eric (June 21, 1999), "Even an Insider Found Jar Jar, Well, Jarring", Los Angeles Times, pp. F6
  19. ^ a b O'Ehley, James, Jar Jar Binks Must Die!, retrieved August 9, 2008
  20. ^ Handy, Bruce (September 1, 2015), "The Daring Genesis of J.J. Abrams's Star Wars: The Force Awakens", Vanity Fair, retrieved October 22, 2015
  21. ^ Robot Chicken: Star Wars on IMDb
  22. ^ "Star Wars: Lucas strikes back". BBC News. July 14, 1999. Retrieved February 7, 2007.
  23. ^ Shoard, Catherine (July 4, 2018). "Jar Jar Binks actor 'considered suicide' after Star Wars prequel backlash". The Guardian.
  24. ^ "Star Wars: George Lucas names Jar Jar Binks as his favourite character". BBC News. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  25. ^ Sharf, Zack. "20 Years Later, George Lucas Still Names Jar Jar Binks His Favorite 'Star Wars' Character". IndieWire. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  26. ^ Morgenstern, Joe (May 19, 1999), "Our Inner Child Meets Young Darth", The Wall Street Journal (Eastern Edition), pp. A20
  27. ^ Patricia J. Williams: "Racial Ventriloquism". The Nation. June 17, 1999. Archived from the original on September 20, 2006. Retrieved June 11, 2006.
  28. ^ Ford, Paul J. (2001), "A further analysis of the ethics of representation in virtual reality: Multi-user environments", Ethics and Information Technology, Kluwer Academic Publishers, 3 (2): 113–121, doi:10.1023/A:1011846009390.
  29. ^ "Top 10 Racially Offensive Movie Characters". Retrieved October 9, 2005.
  30. ^ Okwu, Michael (June 14, 1999). "Jar Jar jarring". CNN. Retrieved November 11, 2013.
  31. ^ Okwu, Michael (June 24, 1999). "Jar Jar Binks: A Digital Star Is Born". Rolling Stone. Retrieved August 26, 2014.
  32. ^ Lumpawarroo (October 30, 2015). "[Theory] Jar Jar Binks was a trained Force user, knowing Sith collaborator, and will play a central role in The Force Awakens". Reddit /r/StarWars. Retrieved November 11, 2015.
  33. ^ Ahmed Best. "IamA Ahmed Best actor/writer/director, best known for playing Jar Jar Binks in Star Wars Ep. 1,2,3. Ask me Anything!". Reddit /r/IAmA. Retrieved May 2, 2019.
  34. ^ a b Matt Hickey (October 31, 2015). "Fans Rocked By Star Wars Character Theory That Changes Everything They Know". Forbes. Retrieved November 16, 2015.
  35. ^ Andrew P Street (November 6, 2015). "Is Jar Jar Binks the ultimate Star Wars bad guy? Yes, says the internet". The Guardian. Retrieved November 11, 2015.
  36. ^ Alexandra Petri (November 4, 2015). "The biggest problem with the Jar Jar Theory". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 11, 2015.
  37. ^ Ross Douthat (November 9, 2015). "Darth Jar Jar and the Wisdom of Fans". The New York Times. Retrieved November 16, 2015.
  38. ^ Ahmed Best [@ahmedbest] (November 2, 2015). "I will say this, it feels really good when the hidden meaning behind the work is seen. No matter how long it takes. #TPM" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  39. ^ Jamie Stangroom. "Ahmed Best says DARTH JAR JAR theory is TRUE! (sort of)". YouTube. Retrieved May 2, 2019.

External links