Project Description

INKTOBER 52 2024 Week #19: JAR (JAR).

“Would you look at that? Two ‘Star Wars’ references in a row! My love of ‘Star Wars’ is well-documented at this point. It’s been by far the biggest influence on me creatively. I was born in 1977, the year ‘A New Hope’ was released, so I’ve never known a world without Jedi, Sith, Wookies, Droids, the Force, etc. After ‘Return of the Jedi’, though, I believed that was it. Sure, there were books and comics and video games that came along and kept my need to spend time in a galaxy far, far away fed, but all that other media didn’t have the same punch as a movie.
Then Lucasfilm announced ‘The Phantom Menace’ in 1998. I was ecstatic. Part of the magic of ‘Star Wars’ has always been that as soon as the John Williams score hits, I’m transported back to being a little kid, carefree and full of dreams and imagination. What I wasn’t prepared for back then was the amount of criticism that movie received, particularly for the character Jar Jar Binks. It actually kind of hurt to see and hear people say such negative things about something I loved so much. And to be clear, I loved ‘The Phantom Menace’ just like I loved all the others.
I’ve never understood the hate the subsequent movies have received, and particularly anything directed towards Jar Jar. I understood the character he was meant to be from the outset. I think part of the problem is that the original fans grew up and became too jaded to recapture their youth like I could. The other problem is the dark side of social media (the Sith, if you will…), where it’s ‘cool’ to complain and hate on things as if your opinion is the right and only one, or simply not to allow other people to like whatever they like. It’s too easy to be negative when you can be anonymous and there are few, if any, social repercussions. People don’t think twice about saying something mean, insulting, or hurtful intentionally because they don’t have to look the recipient in the eye and see their instant emotional reaction. I know Ahmed Best, the talented actor and by all accounts great guy that played Jar Jar, has talked about the negative mental health impact that ‘fan’ response had on him. He’s sadly not the only one to go through it, either.
Jar Jar was a fun, entertaining, and sometimes silly, slapstick character that lightened some of the more serious and heavy themes of ‘Star Wars’ (politics, a trade war, slavery…). He was no more ‘annoying’ or ‘childish’ than C3PO or the Ewoks. Bringing that character to the big screen was a huge leap forward in special effects, and the team that did it, including Mr. Best, deserve a ton of credit for that achievement.
To sum things up, I guess you could say I’m pro Jar Jar, if for no other reason than I’m pro ‘Star Wars’ (and pro caring about other people’s feelings).”

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