I tried. I really did. I’ve tried talking about other things. Giving the Saga as a whole and equal share of the time. I figured “Hey, everyone already knows who my favorite character is. Let’s leave that be for a while.” I even managed to get through an article about the Gungans while barely mentioning him.
Then J.J. Abrams has to go and “joke” with Vanity Fair last month about how tempted he is to put Jar Jar Binks’ bleached skeleton in the desert in “The Force Awakens.”
Ha. Very funny. Wait, no it’s not.
|"THIS is funny. That...not so much."|
It’s like if I said “Hey, I’m directing an official Star Wars film, but I really don’t like Boba Fett so I’m tempted to throw in a quick scene of someone going to the bathroom in his helmet – not Han though, that would just up his unbearably large street cred.”
If I was the official director of an official Star Wars project and I said that, everyone would freak out and call for my head. As they should, because whatever my subjective opinions it’s extremely disrespectful to the legacy I was chosen to shepherd.
So why does J.J. get a free pass with Jar Jar bashing? Is it because they share initials and Abrams was bullied at the tender young age of 33?
Oh wait, I forgot. It’s because “everybody hates Jar Jar.” Except no, not everyone does. A very large amount of people actively like him and even love him, and most of the rest at least tolerate him.
|"That's our Jar Jar!"|
This is why I can’t get as excited as I want to about The Force Awakens. I want to be excited. I want to ramp up. I want to feel like this could be a wonderful experience. Instead, I get filled with dread each time it’s mentioned because almost everything I hear seems to be trying to placate and bring in the very group of people who created this fandom divide and, in all likelihood, will never like The Force Awakens no matter what kind of movie it turns out to be. Meanwhile, the majority of us who loved the entire Saga and have kept the love going even in the face of mainstream hate are being made to feel like this movie isn’t being made for us.
Now I understand that there’s a very good chance that this is all public relations. The movie does have a very real chance at being very good, and I stand by my absolute refusal to pass final judgement on the film until I’ve seen it at least three or four times. But my point is: Even if this is just PR, why bother even going in that direction?! Why bother kowtowing to the section who has blasted the works for years instead of those who stood faithfully by because we actually like Star Wars rather than just our nostalgic feelings on what we thought it might have been years ago? The haters are haters precisely because they are extremely hard to please and delight in nitpicking everything – I’ve seen some of these people go so far as to completely miss (or outright ignore) important information to prove their case that something was wrong. Do you really want their approval over people who love it for what it is? Because the only way you’ll get the approval of the haterbase is to completely throw away everything that made Star Wars more than just a silly space action movie, that made the majority of Star Wars fans come back and back again. And even then you might get half the haters at best – the rest will find something to hate because they’re just that way.
|"Technically, at the end of the day, Gungans are human too."|
Jar Jar is one of those things that makes Star Wars more. Not necessarily for what he is – Jerry Lewis in Space – but for what he represents: The fact that even the most seemingly useless of us can do things for good, even if it’s completely by accident. No matter how much or how big we screw up sometimes, we are all useful and we are all important. That’s just one of many reasons why Jar Jar is my favorite character, and I wish it hadn’t taken me so long to realize that.
So I’m bringing it back.
You may or may not remember me mentioning my Jar Jar Lives campaign last year (inspired by “Frodo Lives!” of early Lord of the Rings fandom in the ‘60s):
|"With just a dash of 'Kilroy was Here'."|
It has been too long since I had an opportunity to really use it anywhere. Well, now is the time. All of us need to show the people in charge that there are many of us out there in double-digit ages that like Jar Jar and everything associated with him. So please, if you feel as I do, use this slogan. Post and write it anywhere you legally can. Pepper it in chat rooms (are those still a thing?) and message boards. Share it on Facebooks, Twitters, and Tumblers. Draw it in the condensation on bus windows on rainy days. Make bumper stickers and t-shirts if you have the means and the funds. Hell, I wrote it just the other day on one of those displays in Staples that lets you try out Sharpie permanent markers.
I’ve been saying it time and again – if we don’t make our voices heard now, then Jar Jar will continue to be a punchline forever. It’s up to us, to the people who like Jar Jar just the way he is, to change that perspective.
Then maybe, just maybe, some day one of us will be able to produce official Star Wars material, and give Jar Jar a legacy we can all be proud of.
Jar Jar Lives!