Prequel Trilogy,  The Phantom Menace,  Uncategorized

Jar Jar Binks actor Ahmed Best says he almost killed himself because of media backlash

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  • Marshall

    Reading this now makes me wonder where all these people defending KMT (and trashing “toxic” fans) were when Ahmed Best, Jake Lloyd and PT fans had to put up with media bullying. Where was the call for civility then? So phony.

  • phen

    the bullying now is not excusable. But neither was it back then. ANd back then it was news media outlets

  • KirkMan1701

    More proof that this bullying of those who were either involved in or merely enjoy the SW prequels is inexcusable both then and now and they even almost drove Ahmed best to suicide all because he played a universally positive character that just so happened to rub them the wrong way! Those old-school Star Wars bullies are deplorable reactionaries who belong in that “Basket of Deplorables” along with Donnie Trump and his sycophants since both parties cruel, nosy, and even dangerous control freaks who are terrified of doing any bit of self-reflection (politics or NOT). Really, this anti-SW prequel obsession is dangerous as well as both sociopathic and psychotic; therefore, those prequel-bashing psychopaths need to get serious mental help and see very strict shrinks who will heavily crack down on their toxic obsession. These prequel bashers refuse to mind their own bloody business since like to stick their filthy noses into other people’s business where it does not belong.

    • Cryogenic

      @KirkMan1701:

      See, I think people are entitled to their anti-SW views, prequel or otherwise, and that’s kinda why we have free speech to begin with. On the other hand, I most certainly agree that people with an axe to grind about these films, in particular, have proven spectacularly unable to leave them — or actual fans of them — alone. And that does suggest a few sicknesses inside of them and within society at large. I’ve also seen several people gush all over the movies when they came out like you would scarcely believe, only to then turn round, be extremely rude to prequel fans, and act like they’re the worst thing to ever be inflicted on cinema. All of this behaviour is pathological. Turns out, when Lucas said “Jar Jar is the key to all this”, he really wasn’t kidding…

      • KirkMan1701

        I agree 100% that they are entitled to dislike the prequels or Jar Jar, but sadly plenty of non-prequel fans don’t know how to draw the line and cross the line with a myriad of bad behaviors. SW prequel bashers like Mike Stoklasa, Simon Pegg, Wil Wheaton, Max Landis, Patton Oswalt, and Nathaniel Muir are willfully ignorant of the DIFFERENCE between their inalienable right to dislike the SW prequels and Jar Jar and their abusing those who like the prequels and Jar Jar. They should not be dictating what Star Wars movies theirs or others’ kids should be allowed to watch solely based on their own personal feelings like Willy Wheaton and Nathaniel Muir like to do.

        Jar Jar Binks teaches respect, tolerance, and acceptance like and those fanatical Jar Jar haters are too blinded by their biased hatred to acknowledge that since one can both dislike something and admit its importance at the same time.

      • Cryogenic

        You make very valid points. Those names you dropped are definitely all “of a piece”. Simon Pegg and Wil Wheaton are especially hypocritical. The former only trashed and swore at Star Trek fans who had the nerve to give the least votes to “Into Darkness” at a convention in an interview; and better yet: he said that becoming employed at Lucasfilm and working on Star Wars would be an act of “massive hypocrisy” on his part after being so critical of Lucas and the prequels. These remarks are from the same interview:

        https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/simon-pegg-the-worlds-end_n_3787056

        It’s really unbelievable. And Wheaton, you’d think, might have more self-awareness, too, since he essentially played the “Jar Jar” of Star Trek and took crap about his character for years. Instead, last July, in what seemed like a desperate bid to get some approval and signal his geek-cred and escape the lowest level of the food chain, he tweeted that the prequels were garbage and people shouldn’t subject their kids to them. It’s no wonder Lucas jacked Star Wars in with this degree of antipathy and vitriol surrounding it and his decisions.

        “When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him.”

        — Jonathan Swift

        And I couldn’t agree more here:

        “Jar Jar Binks teaches respect, tolerance, and acceptance like and those fanatical Jar Jar haters are too blinded by their biased hatred to acknowledge that since one can both dislike something and admit its importance at the same time.”

        Yes!!! “The Dark Side of the Force has clouded their vision, my friend.”

        And isn’t that what the prequels reveal? The Dark Side is stronger than we realize. We must fight its evil allure and insidious operations all the time. We must see and then confront the darkness within.

  • Cryogenic

    Very surprising and distressing to me — and yet, while still distressing, perhaps not *so* surprising, sadly. The impact of bullying and hatred truly knows no bounds. A young performer with looks, talent, health, charisma, and yes, because of a “lightning rod” character he played in a kid’s fantasy series, designed to teach BASIC VALUES OF TOLERANCE AND RESPECT, he has his career railroaded by an avalanche of hate and crazed philistinism and is driven to the brink of suicide. The brutal irony of it all.

    Very powerful picture that only shows life is precious; sometimes it ends, sometimes it goes on. And the picture also says it can/does go on — at least, for some people, if fortune smiles on them still and they will it to.

    I’ve always felt like an outsider, put up with my share of ostracism and abuse in younger years at school and college/university, and been disparaged for some of my tastes and opinions and behaviours before and on to the present day. Perhaps that is why I’ve long gravitated toward Jar Jar.

    This news pierces my heart. But Ahmed is a sound dude and I get the sense he is a stronger, more anchored person today. Gotta try and steer around the lame cliche of, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, but perhaps there is still a grain of truth in it.

    Ahmed — You’re a legend! All the best to you and your son. And thank you for your honesty and integrity in life and for bringing Jar Jar fully into my world as only you could. I will esteem you always. xx

    • Alexrd

      I believe I’ve said this before, but I always found it ironic that one of the lessons of TPM was to see value in every life form and not to immediately dismiss or have prejudice against it. Yet the very fact that for almost 20 years Jar Jar has been the subject of such derision and hate makes the movie itself all the more poignant and relevant.

      I’ve also been mocked (by both friends and strangers) for merely being fine with Jar Jar back then.

      But the real problem, and the consequences of what happened with Ahmed Best I don’t blame it on fandom (at least not solely), I blame it first and foremost on the media. It was the media that not only brought the controversy out of porportion but made it much worse. Fans, and people in general, may have a more raw and less eloquent reaction to entertainment and fulfilled or unfulfilled expectations, but you understand what they are talking about, even if you disagree. And virtually everyone who had a problem with Jar Jar, no matter what they say, had a problem with him as a creative decision, not as a character. Jar Jar is no different than Charlie Chaplin, Roger Rabbit, Buster Keaton, Goofy, the jester archetype, etc… People like them. What some people didn’t like was a character like that in what they thought Star Wars was or wanted Star Wars to be.

      Yet I think the media brought things to a downright evil scale. They fed on it for money. Brought baseless accusations of racism and anti-semitism into the picture for more controversy. Does anyone really think that people wouldn’t hire him for fan reaction on a movie? No. It’s the media reaction. Anyone who would look for some info on him would immediately find media rants and hit pieces. They feared bad press, not fan rants.

      There’s also another factor to take into account. It’s no secret that the media and Hollywood have a long history of collusion. And if there’s someone Hollywood never forgave was George Lucas. The independent filmmaker that got the best of them. The guy who broke out of their system. Lucas has payed the price for that to this day. None of his movies got not just good, but acceptable press (excluding those where Spielberg, their golden goose, was involved).

      • Cryogenic

        @Alex:

        (Part 1 of 2)

        “I believe I’ve said this before, but I always found it ironic that one of the lessons of TPM was to see value in every life form and not to immediately dismiss or have prejudice against it. Yet the very fact that for almost 20 years Jar Jar has been the subject of such derision and hate makes the movie itself all the more poignant and relevant.”

        Yep. Totally.

        It is perhaps also notable that the only character who extends real affection to Jar Jar in TPM is Padme/Amidala — and, arguably, Shmi. It’s true that Qui-Gon saves him from his fate on Otoh Gunga and places some faith in him, but even he starts off by calling him “brainless” and stiffly rebukes Jar Jar later on (such as during the dinner scene at Anakin’s hovel). And that’s about as good as it gets for Jar Jar: Boss Nass informs Qui-Gon that Jar Jar is to be punished, Obi-Wan doesn’t care if he’s left behind and later denigrates him as a “pathetic lifeform”, Artoo bumps him out of the way, Anakin shoots him strange glances, Sebulba knocks him to the ground and chokes him, Watto shunts him, an eopie farts on him, and even C-3PO confides to Artoo that he finds Jar Jar “odd” (and then “very odd, indeed”). And okay, Nass promotes him to General, yet laughs when Jar Jar falls to the ground, unconscious, some mix of awed and terrified. This repeated pattern of abuse and disdain is hardly accidental.

        Only the kind “mother” figures of the PT, who both die in the following installments, as Jar Jar himself ebbs into the background, can see true value and worth in Jar Jar and never do anything to derogate Jar Jar or render themselves superior to him. And, of course, it is Jar Jar’s bond with Padme/Amidala that bears the most fruit of any relationship in the film, lending a great deal of poignancy to their final scene together in ROTS, and illustrating the importance of tolerance, trust, respect, and above all, friendship. Jar Jar’s lubricating remark that the Gungans have a Grand Army and that’s why the surface-dwelling, “sophisticated” Naboo dislike them is perhaps the most insightful and resonant observation in the film. It sets up the whole last act — and, in a way, the entire trajectory of the Star Wars saga.

        One can also see that Padme seems in love with the pure “Id” of Jar Jar — she draws a certain kind of relief and sustenance from it. This neatly limns her friendly affection toward Anakin in TPM and her romantic attraction toward him in the next film. Jar Jar is a break from tradition and routine (in more ways than one). He is Padme’s “solar sail”, charging her up, giving her reason to find herself, to have hope, to rally, to seize the moment. She finds it easy to be around Jar Jar. She trusts him and innately recognises the good in Jar Jar even when everyone else considers him some kind of nuisance or menace (with a possible exception in Shmi and half-exception in Qui-Gon). This is one meaning to the film’s title beyond the obvious one: “The Phantom Menace” is Jar Jar (because he isn’t actually a menace but the other characters think he is because their vision is flawed –> “Your focus determines your reality”).

        I also love the fact that Jar Jar is amphibious and therefore has a “dual” nature — not unlike the two-bodied Jedi, the two-headed podrace announcer, the scheming Palpatine, and Padme’s own dual identity (the “angel” to Palpatine’s devil). He’s a terrific character and a wonderful piece of thematic tissue, a sort of in-series synecdoche, in his own right, and certainly critical to the story of TPM and the PT as a whole. Some creation myths even depict humanity being taught basic civilization-building skills by strange creatures half-man, half-fish (and variants thereof). I think George Lucas had a lot of ideas he wanted to express through Jar Jar. Consider this elusive line from the famed American author Henry James: “The terrible fluidity of self-revelation”. The lessons established by Jar Jar’s presence in TPM carry down all the films, reaching a point of intense reprisal when Luke shoos the irritating frog-man away, who is actually the Jedi Master he’s seeking, in the cave-dominated TESB. Everything in GL’s saga is so tightly and meticulously assembled. A tragicomic Jungian metatext.

    • Cryogenic

      @Alex:

      (Part 2 of 2)

      See, I broke this into two parts, because you touched on a lot of stuff.

      I could write an entire book on Jar Jar!!!

      The mockery you received sort of sums it up. People have a real issue tolerating difference and thinking for themselves. My own sister told me some years ago, when she had not long started college, that she was having second thoughts about the prequels, because of Jar Jar among other reasons. This was an unease she arrived at through the “group wisdom” of her college friends, who all apparently had the same view and had begun to influence her — the one we’re all very familiar with thanks to the glorious rise of the Internet and mass media. In any case, she later started enjoying the prequels again, and was even dating someone who showed me some podracers he had designed using a professional computer modelling package. He told me that TPM and ROTS were his two favourite Star Wars films. This was last summer — after the release of “The Force Awakens” and “Rogue One”. Not bad, huh? He’s young, too. So already, perhaps, opinions have shifted, or he’s someone who has a better time thinking for himself.

      The media definitely played a big role in the disdain. It started up pretty quick with the big East Coast/West Coast newspapers alleging racism and quickly spiralled from there. I’m an Elvis fan so it was actually a case of history repeating. The same papers slandered him and insinuated he was a racist hick back in the 1950s after his incendiary national television appearances. They definitely seem to have a problem with what they consider to be trash/low-brow/hillbilly culture — an old North/South prejudice. Honestly, I make the claim that Jar Jar is essentially the “talented hillbilly” of the SW saga, not unlike Elvis. And these things just shouldn’t exist to challenge establishment thinking, dammit. In both cases, it becomes necessary to quickly debase the presence of this racially-mixed “energy” in culture, threatening to break on through, by alleging it to be degenerate, low, crude, and unworthy of acclaim. One newspaper article disparaged Elvis’s 1950s Las Vegas appearance as “a jug of corn liquor at a champagne party”. Sounds a bit Jar Jar-y, doesn’t it?

      Then, as you intimate, Lucas is the outsider who broke all the rules, sticking his thumb in the eye of Hollywood and the tethered media machine from up in the hills of San Francisco. How dare he! Beating Hollywood at its own game in the more verdant and temperate plains of Marin County! This guy’s a kook, but a very well-motivated and financed kook. We need to bring him back down to Earth. Acrid Earth. What’s this guy doing up in Endor? We have to drag him back to Tatooine. “Oh, this is such a drag.” But yeah, silliness aside, I think you’re onto something. I will just say that the original Star Wars got pretty strong reviews and won a few Oscars (albeit not “Best Picture” or “Best Director”) — and Lucas was later gifted the Irving G. Thalberg Award. Not bad. But when he went back to Star Wars with the prequels and demonstrated true artistic independence, it couldn’t be so easily countenanced. For now he was his own media empire and wasn’t answerable to anyone. He had finally attained the independence he carefully built through the success of the original Star Wars trilogy. This guy truly meant business.

      But fans aren’t to be completely let off the hook here. They COULD have taken a stand against all that nonsense and said: “Not in our name.” But they didn’t. They gleefully lapped it up and threw it back in the faces of real prequel fans: “Some people think the movie has racist stereotypes. Unfortunate.” It was like there was something objectively wrong with the films and anyone who defended them was morally deficient. Hence the appearance of the term “prequel apologist”. Now fans weren’t merely celebrating or defending what they loved, but actually mounting apologetics for a broken doctrine. The well became poisoned. No truly discerning person likes those films. Only people with low intelligence, poor taste, and bad morals. It got very ugly. Perhaps we are finally over the worst of it and people can begin to enjoy the films they prefer in peace.

      (Although it looks like there is presently a fresh wave of intolerance toward anyone saying anything untoward about the Disney films or having the temerity to compare them to Lucas’ work in certain places…. But that’s another thread.).

      And here’s another level in which Jar Jar probably struck a chord (or a nerve): He’s goofy, he’s clumsy, he’s a little bit inelegant, nervous, excitable — and, most of all, perhaps, awkward. A sort of “anti-Han Solo” if you will. He is obviously the nearest equivalent the Star Wars saga has to an unsophisticated, uncultured nerd. Many fans clearly fancied themselves as a dashing action hero in real-life — after all, Han Solo gets the girl and has a cool ship, right? And remember the endless uproar about Han shooting Greedo? But in reality, many fans are probably closer to Jar Jar in a lot of ways. And that’s the beauty of the character. Aren’t we all a bit “Jar Jar”? However, it’s simply easier to deny this connection than to face it, because who wants to admit to their own awkwardness? So maligning Jar Jar and laughing at him and collectively signalling an awareness of how much Lucas had “lost it” in creating Jar Jar and inflicting him on the world became a convenient means of expurgating demons and “proving” that one was above all this kiddie nonsense. Repression and denial are easy. Even Obi-Wan tells Luke to bury his feelings about Leia deep down when he faces Vader — yet, in the end, it’s acknowledging them and letting go that saves Luke and the whole galaxy.

      And yeah, when Lucas created Jar Jar, he was obviously reaching back into the past, and at the same time, tearing up the rule book. As Yoda tells Luke: “You must unlearn what you have learned.” Fans failed to heed the teachings of a revered character from the saga’s most revered movie! They went into TPM like Luke going into the cave — they took their weapons with them, they saw a “phantom menace”, and they slayed it. Yet, in a perfect expression of the saga’s overarching theme, redemption can come through another generation. Either through kids or their own or learning to become young again, people can change their focus and bask in all the jewels they missed when they were too eager to see waste and wrongness in everything. Living history demands that we keep turning the page and writing the next chapter.

      • Alexrd

        “It’s true that Qui-Gon saves him from his fate on Otoh Gunga and places some faith in him, but even he starts off by calling him “brainless” and stiffly rebukes Jar Jar later on (such as during the dinner scene at Anakin’s hovel).”

        Okay, the ‘brainless’ part needs to be taken in context. It’s no different than saying ‘are you crazy?’. It’s true that he did dismiss Jar Jar, but not in a ‘you’re worthless’ kind of way, which was my point. Qui-Gon simply had more important matters to address and didn’t have time to waste. He saved his life and now had to move on with his mission.

        That said, respect is not given, it’s earned. Jar already had Qui-Gon’s respect since he saved his life. Jar Jar had to earn Qui-Gon’s respect (and the audience’s). And he did so gradually, by proving himself useful through his knowledge. He made the Jedi aware of Otoh Gunga. He warned the Jedi about the danger of travelling through the core. And later he made Padmé aware of the Gungan’s army. It all goes back to TPM’s main theme: symbiosis. Life forms living together for mutual advantage.

        “But fans aren’t to be completely let off the hook here.”

        I was afraid you might read it that way, but that was not my intention. Fans do have their share of blame. They are responsible for their actions, specially when they choose to let their emotions dicate their actions (the ways of the Sith, the bad guys. Easier, more seductive). And that includes verbal abuse, wether they truly mean it or not.

        My point is that it’s the media that brought it out of porportion. It was the media that gave credence and scale to an otherwise vocal minority. It was the media that fed on it, for decades. And now, in their hipocrisy, they complain when what they used to do is happening to Disney’s Star Wars. The absence of George Lucas makes the double standards so much more evident, in more ways than one.

      • Cryogenic

        @Alex:

        (Part 1 of 2)

        I’m gonna have to do another two-parter here. Easier to read; and I don’t think the comments system likes long posts…

        “Okay, the ‘brainless’ part needs to be taken in context. It’s no different than saying ‘are you crazy?’. It’s true that he did dismiss Jar Jar, but not in a ‘you’re worthless’ kind of way, which was my point. Qui-Gon simply had more important matters to address and didn’t have time to waste. He saved his life and now had to move on with his mission.”

        Fair enough — but it’s still a bit rude and unfair on Qui-Gon’s part. Freezing behaviour in response to danger and coming under attack is normal in a wide range of animal species; including us humans. See this link for more:

        https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/evolution-the-self/201507/trauma-and-the-freeze-response-good-bad-or-both

        Quoting from it:

        “Say, you’re attacked by a ferocious dog who’s sunk his teeth into your neck and you’re totally at his mercy. Or a child suddenly finding yourself captive to a vicious bully who’s pulled you to the ground and is pummeling you with all his might. Or a victim of a sexual predator who’s overpowered you and literally taken custody of your body. Or maybe you’re trapped by a fast-moving natural disaster rendering you completely helpless—like an avalanche, earthquake, hurricane, tsunami, etc. Or finally, because of your age or highly suggestible state of mind, you’re just imagining that your mortal welfare is at risk and that you’re helpless to do anything about it.

        In such alarming instances, you’d experience trepidation, panic, horror, dread. And these extreme feelings would be so fraught with anxiety, so laden with terror, that almost no one is “gifted” with the resources required to stay fully in the present—which is precisely what’s needed to “process” to emotional and physical completion, or release, what so frighteningly besieges you. Under such unnerving circumstances, “freezing up” or “numbing out”—in a word, dissociating from the here and now—is about the only and (in various instances), best thing you can do.”

        Jar Jar is an innocent caught up in something much bigger than himself. Suddenly seeing his environment being carved up by monstrous machines of war as Naboo comes under invasion (which even the Queen and her counsel debate the reality of) is understandably alarming to him — too much to process in one sudden moment. Now, yes, many of the other animals are stampeding and pegging it out of harm’s way, but Jar Jar has a complex level of intelligence. It’s precisely the opposite of what Qui-Gon says. He’s not brainless; he’s just overwhelmed with new information he’s struggling in that instance to reconcile with what he knows: his previously meagre, peaceful existence; the sanctity of the forest suddenly being bruised and trampled down as a frightening, angry, shouting man in strange robes comes running right for him.

        Don’t forget that Jar Jar suffered the trauma of being banished from his society. The trauma is so great that he has obviously suppressed it to some degree — as when he eagerly tells the Jedi about Otoh Gunga before realizing he forgot that he’s banished and implicitly can’t return without facing a punishment for his defiance. Being kicked out of one’s society is essentially to be forced into a state of living death. Jar Jar’s fate obviously presages the fate of Anakin and the Jedi Order. As General Rieekan says to Han as he excuses himself to pay back his debt to Jabba (another fat-sultan-like chieftain figure that has something over a waistcoat-wearing “solo” character): “A death mark is not an easy thing to live with.” The original shooting script for TPM makes this explicit: Nass tells Qui-Gon in front of the Gungan High Council (wink, wink — duality!) that Jar Jar is to be “pounded unto death”. It’s not outrageous for him to stiffen and freeze up when he sees someone yelling at him out of nowhere.

        This early exchange between Qui-Gon and Jar Jar reveals that Qui-Gon has a judgemental side and isn’t above petty annoyance and maligning others for things they can’t help. He certainly softens on Jar Jar after this; but still rebukes him at the dinner table on Tatooine, for example. He almost doesn’t bother to rescue Jar Jar from his own people, even though he already got shocked and placed in handcuffs! Jar Jar has to call out to Qui-Gon to catch his attention and use a bit of guile as he and Obi-Wan start to walk off and leave. Remember: Jar Jar doesn’t have the abilities of a Jedi. The film deliberately contrasts the stoic calm of the Jedi and the excitable fright exhibited by Jar Jar in the bongo/planet core sequence. They’re both at an extreme (of sorts). So credit to Qui-Gon for showing compassion to Jar Jar — but he’s far from perfect himself.

      • Cryogenic

        @Alex:

        (Part 2 of 2)

        Further, you say Qui-Gon doesn’t rebuff Jar Jar in a “‘you’re worthless’ kind of way”, but he sort of does. Asking someone if they’re brainless is pretty insulting. I’m sure Qui-Gon wouldn’t speak that way to Yoda or Queen Amidala (although he’s not above belittling her when she has no real power as Padme to challenge his authority). He has this underlying racist, I-know-better-than-you streak. When he first arrives in Watto’s shop, listen to how he addresses Watto. He uses an emotionless monotone and almost talks past him. And then he tries the mind trick tactic on him outside. Only to find that Watto is above such cheap tactics. Qui-Gon, in my opinion, has a presumptuous side. He also acts very stiffly in the opening scenes of the movie. Jar Jar has a softening effect on him — as later on Padme/Amidala. Jar Jar enables the other characters to rediscover a slight fondness for living and to recover a part of their suppressed humanity.

        He also shows that Qui-Gon’s supposed esteeming of the Living Force could do with a bit of lubrication. The squeaky wheel gets the grease — which applies in both directions, in different ways, to Qui-Gon and Jar Jar. Like you said: Symbiosis. They help compensate for areas that need a bit of work in the other. And Jar Jar certainly recognises the prowess of the Jedi on Theed when they make light work of the battle droids escorting Amidala and her troupe. You could argue that this represents Jar Jar coming to terms with the fact that Qui-Gon dismissed him to start with. Jar Jar now sees that the Jedi are possessed of incredible powers and he would be low on their list of priorities if not for the machinations of fate. He’s sort of saying “I get it now. Thank you.” I like that. But again, the Jedi are meant to have compassion for all living beings, so Qui-Gon’s early dismissal, and Obi-Wan’s outright dismissal, don’t speak too highly to their doctrine. And Jar Jar only exposes the same failings times-one-hundred the other side of the screen — as we’ve all borne witness to.

        I’m going to end a bit controversially here, but follow me through: You could maybe argue that the “lead” hero Jedi calling Jar Jar brainless theoretically sanctions death threats against the actor. Yes: This is slippery-slope thinking and maybe reductio ad absurdum. But it’s worth pondering a second. The lead character (in many ways) himself is exasperated with Jar Jar and rubbishes Jar Jar with a crass insult. And how crass were all the responses from fans (and the media milking it all) that followed? Qui-Gon, after all, never steps forth at any point and expressly says he was wrong to call Jar Jar brainless. But shouldn’t we have humility and apologize and retract when we put someone else down and realize it was wrong; and probably hurtful and injurious to their feelings? I don’t think Qui-Gon ever quite goes far enough to make amends. He rescues Jar Jar from Otoh Gunga, sure. But this is after manipulating him along with Obi-Wan (an ugly tint of bullying — two against one using fear/intimidation) to take him there. He was morally obligated to do something to extract Jar Jar from punishment. Qui-Gon doesn’t always treat Jar Jar so decently, in my opinion. Perhaps the film itself set up some of the hatred that followed — even if there’s a good moral underneath and the story is paved with good intentions.

        We agree on the media/fan thing. The way you describe it — you could be describing The Sith. The media are rather a lot like Palpatine feeding on all the fear, greed, hate, and disdain of the beings around him. I always loved this assessment of the media by a TFN poster called HavocHound: “The media is a parasitic conglomerated Leviathan controlled by an oligarchy of suit-and-tie-wearing charlatans.” Incidentally, that remark comes from an old thread on Binks himself:

        http://boards.theforce.net/threads/the-jar-jar-binks-reference-and-discussion-thread.7151319/page-3#post-7445110

        And yeah, since the Disney transition, there has been a lot of hypocrisy to go around. J.J. Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy both made public digs at Jar Jar just before “The Force Awakens” came out. But then they want to mount their high horse and condemn people for being racists and misogynists because they didn’t universally adore the new films. Talk about the foxes running the hen house; or a Young Earth Creationist running a natural history museum…

      • Alexrd

        @Cryo

        Yes, freezing in panic is natural. But the fact is that he grabbed Qui-Gon down and almost killed them both. Again, Jar Jar’s panic is natural and Qui-Gon didn’t hold a grudge against him. He was simply annoyed and in his no-nonsense attitude made Jar Jar aware of what could have happened.

        Regarding his banishment, I don’t think Jar Jar was traumatized by it. Certainly not in any visible way. There was no indication of trauma. His clumsiness didn’t originate from that, since that was precisely the reason for why he was banished to begin with. What he does have is fear of returning and face the consequences, to which the Jedi have to remind him (in a somewhat amusing way to the audience) that there a very high risk that he might be killed by the droids if he remains in the swamp.

        “Further, you say Qui-Gon doesn’t rebuff Jar Jar in a “‘you’re worthless’ kind of way”, but he sort of does. Asking someone if they’re brainless is pretty insulting.”

        A very light insult (if an insult at all) considering the context. If you pass a red light and someone beside you says ‘are you brainless?’ are you really going to take it as an insult? Jar Jar definitely wasn’t shown feeling insulted. He was saved twice in a matter of seconds.

        “I’m sure Qui-Gon wouldn’t speak that way to Yoda or Queen Amidala (although he’s not above belittling her when she has no real power as Padme to challenge his authority).”

        He was teasing her, completely aware of the pointless deception she’s trying to pose against him. And no, he wouldn’t talk to them that way. It all goes back to what I said about respect.

        “He has this underlying racist, I-know-better-than-you streak. When he first arrives in Watto’s shop, listen to how he addresses Watto. He uses an emotionless monotone and almost talks past him. And then he tries the mind trick tactic on him outside. Only to find that Watto is above such cheap tactics. Qui-Gon, in my opinion, has a presumptuous side.”

        Oh, come on Cryo. Racist? Seriously? That’s SJW trash talk. I thought you wouldn’t resort to such cheap strawmen. Yes, he is presumptous. That’s pointed out more than once in the movie:

        ‘You assume too much.’
        ‘I don’t presume to–‘ ‘Oh, but you do.’

        But presumption is not racism. ‘Emotionless monotone voice’ is not racism. Mindtricking people is not racism.

        “I’m going to end a bit controversially here, but follow me through: You could maybe argue that the “lead” hero Jedi calling Jar Jar brainless theoretically sanctions death threats against the actor. Yes: This is slippery-slope thinking and maybe reductio ad absurdum. But it’s worth pondering a second.”

        Okay, there are three things to consider:

        – The concept/creation of Jar Jar.
        – The actor.
        – Jar Jar’s role in the story.

        There is no excuse to insult the actor. None whatsoever. One may criticize the actor if one finds that said actor didn’t do a good job. But is this the case? No, because those who trashed Jar Jar didn’t like the concept of someone like him in a Star Wars movie. Ahmed played him exactly as Lucas intended, therefore he wasn’t at fault. Nor was Lucas for staying true to his vision as opposed to the fans.

        Jar Jar’s purpose in the story is not meant to excuse stupidity or clumsiness. Characters pointing out those traits to him when they are so overtly revealed is not something bad. Nobody has to apologize for that, certainly not the characters. But to assume worthlessness from stupidity or clumsiness is bad/wrong (and Qui-Gon never did that, while characters like Obi-Wan and Boss Nass did) and that’s one of the lessons from the movie to the audience. Jar Jar showed worthiness despite his stupidity (part of which comes from innocence) and clumsiness. And he earned respect from the other characters when he did it because of that. It’s not a one way street.

        The audience that saw the movie should take that lesson to the real world.

      • Cryogenic

        @Alex:

        (Part 1 of 2)

        Thanks for the response. This comment section doesn’t make return replies — least of all substantive ones — all that easy to read or construct. I appreciate your diligence.

        I agree that Qui-Gon doesn’t hold a grudge against Jar Jar. And I hope I didn’t imply that. I might have. The issue, for me, is that he never completely “mans up” and apologizes to Jar Jar for insulting him. Perhaps you see his trusting in Jar Jar later on, freeing him from his fate on Otoh Gunga, and other bits of kindness as sufficient. That’s fair. But I suppose I look at Qui-Gon’s soothing words to Obi-Wan back on Naboo (“You’re a much wiser man than I am”) as a model for how Qui-Gon could have spoken to Jar Jar. He never gives Jar Jar that degree of assurance in his words; despite derogating him in their initial encounter. I think, rather, Qui-Gon transfers some of his loving/libidinous energy onto his apprentices instead. It’s interesting that Jar Jar is sort of half-apprenticed to Qui-Gon in the film. He’s in a sort of in-between, handmaiden-style role. And this does a number of intriguing things — like counterpointing the Jedi Council’s aversion to Qui-Gon having two official apprentices at once. Qui-Gon certainly smiles warmly on Jar Jar, in a manner of speaking, throughout the film and comes near to treating him as an equal or a confidante at times (like when they’re traipsing around Mos Espa); but he never quite seems to extend him the loving respect he shows his padawans (or would-be padawans), unlike Padme, who is extremely warm and regarding of Jar Jar. In my eyes, there remains a gap that Qui-Gon never quite bridges.

        Jar Jar may not have been traumatized by his banishment. Some evidence in the film — though I’m using that term loosely — arguably points the other way. For instance: He remains proud of his Gungan race and never shows overt signs of distress over his banishment per se. But I would like to point out that the film is called “The Phantom Menace”. One reading of the title suggests that surface menaces are phantom ones. The corollary being: The real menaces are latent, buried, or otherwise just out of view. Jar Jar forgetting he was banished is still good evidence in this regard, in my opinion — i.e., his pain is below the surface and his forgetting about his banishment suggests he has repressed the memory of it in an attempt to block out the pain of it. And I think it gains strength when we consider the “blockade” situation of the film (plus the barrier imagery: e.g., shields, bubbles), plus what Luke says to Vader in Episode VI — the other bookmark installment: “It is the name of your true self. You have only forgotten.” Nonetheless, this is analogical and speculative only. Jar Jar could well be an aberration who doesn’t process things quite as we expect. However, he certainly seems to express fear and trepidation in the film, not to mention a pronounced degree of sorrow at certain points. Maybe I’m guilty of over-humanizing him or applying too much Freud.

        I don’t know if the term “brainless” is a light insult. Jar Jar likely hasn’t had contact with humans in a while. It sort of sets the tone. And when the insult is delivered, he indignantly protests that he has the power of speech. And then, in fact, Qui-Gon repeats the insult, more or less, by doubling down when he cracks, “The ability to speak does not make you intelligent” — and then he tells him to “get out of here”. That is extremely cold for a Jedi; especially one who supposedly sees worth in all lifeforms and preaches about the Living Force. He could have said something like the following: “Look, I’m sorry about what I just said, but I would appreciate it if you would go back to your business and let me return to mine. Take care.” Something like that. Of course, the film exposes the fallacy of Qui-Gon telling Jar Jar to leave him alone just moments later, when Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan collude in telling Jar Jar that “That is the sound of a thousand terrible things headed our way.” Where was Jar Jar meant to go, exactly, such that he would be reasonably safe? Their threat (and the fact that Qui-Gon had to defend Jar Jar and Obi-Wan from an airborne battle droid) suggests that Jar Jar isn’t safe in the forest now. Therefore, Qui-Gon calling him brainless and unintelligent, plus telling him to “get out of here”, quickly falls like a house of cards.

        I don’t think your red light analogy holds up. People frequently get irate in commute and driving situations. But again: A Jedi is meant to be above mean-spirited anger. Is it helpful to bawl at someone for a mistake, or an errant burst of selfishness, when you’re meant to be a wise monk and venerable guardian of peace and justice and to know better? And as I just touched on above: Jar Jar *was* feeling insulted, since he proudly protested that he could speak; only to be further insulted and told to go away by Qui-Gon. Compare Qui-Gon’s anger there to Luke’s. Han kind of insults Luke and puts down his abilities when they’re travelling to the Sarlacc to be executed. But Luke mostly reacts with amusement and quiet resolve. Qui-Gon is certainly capable of behaving in a similar manner — such as when Obi-Wan admonishes him and tells him not to defy the Jedi Council again on the terrace. Qui-Gon is much calmer and nicer in that moment; even putting a fatherly arm across Obi-Wan’s shoulder (as Palpatine does to Anakin in ROTS) as the scene closes out. His early manner with Jar Jar is quite different. Yes, we need to keep context in mind; but I still say he is very harsh to Jar Jar to begin with and never levels up with him quite as he does Obi-Wan. Perhaps Jar Jar would have liked to hear it.

      • Cryogenic

        (Part 2 of 2)

        Your observation that Qui-Gon is teasing Padme in her “handmaiden” guise on Tatooine is recognised and accepted. I only feel that Qui-Gon gets off on his power a bit. To be sure, too, he is only responding to Padme that way because she upbraids him — would he be so surly otherwise? So I mostly agree with you here.

        I didn’t mean to engage in “racist SJW trash talk” to impugn Qui-Gon, either — and I wasn’t aware that I was. That said, I certainly *was* impugning him, and I probably cringed a bit when I deployed that word. “Racist” is a very strong term, after all, and maybe I should have chosen a milder one. I do think Qui-Gon shows a slightly elitist and superior attitude to others, however — borne out (to me) in his early dismissal of Jar Jar, the cold and stony way he speaks to Boss Nass, and the way he talks with Watto and tries to con him (like Nass) with a mind trick. I appreciate that you may have a different interpretation of these events. I agree that presumption is not racism, but there seems to be a bit more to these exchanges than mere presumption. Or maybe I “assume too much”, too! Salty line with wide applicability. Maybe agree to disagree.

        I suppose I also mostly agree with you on the treatment Ahmed received and how it ties into the film — or doesn’t tie in. He was subjected to a torrent of abuse that he didn’t deserve from fans and the media both. No-one should have to suffer such callow and hateful taunts and insults. The incivility surrounding these films is preposterous. But again: In the abstract, Qui-Gon asking if Jar Jar is brainless, followed by him again insulting Jar Jar for his perceived lack of intelligence, is not especially high-minded — particularly coming, to repeat, from a supposedly venerable Jedi Master who largely “leads” the film. Luke never insults Threepio to that extent or the Ewoks. Granted, he clashes with Han in ANH early on and loses his temper against Yoda and disdains him early on (an obvious parallel), but he’s not a Jedi yet (as Vader later reminds and taunts him). And Luke and Han become blood brothers and Luke later accords Yoda the utmost reverence and respect (while still expressing frustration and antipathy at times). I don’t think Qui-Gon ever goes as far with Jar Jar; even though he’s ostensibly wiser and more seasoned than Luke to begin with. Then again, in some ways, TPM is remarkably subtle about things; and the subtleties are something few people seem to have gotten. Many have denied they’re there at all. I guess your focus truly determines your reality. Yes, I’m both a Jar Jar and a Qui-Gon fanboy at heart, and I certainly love that line a great deal! Please understand I am holding Qui-Gon to a high standard — I am not ultimately expecting him to be without flaw.

        I agree that Jar Jar’s clumsiness derives from his innocence. And that’s quite an interesting observation. This is a measure of the power of Jar Jar and TPM as a whole. We should all remember our innocence and try and hang onto it to a degree. Rather than denying it outright or aggressively clinging to it — both of which were in operation when people began their crusade of hate against the movie, George Lucas, and the actors who brought the characters to life. I may have docked the movie slightly here, and in other ways in the past, but I do love it overall. I don’t think it is ultimately to blame for the slating it received; or the hatred thrown at its stars. That isn’t right. But I still think there could be some thin resonance between the attitude of certain characters within the movie, at certain points, and how fans responded. I agree, however, that people largely missed the themes; and worse: they seemed to purposely keep up their tirade of hate and disdain long after the themes were pointed out to them. Some fans were especially arrogant and belligerent when some of the basic themes underlying Jar Jar’s presence in the movie were outlined in various discussions in the past. Of course, they are also entitled to their opinions, but something ugly seemed to keep going under its own steam, and that’s unfortunate.

        People fail to see their own evil. We all fail the Dagobah cave test in our own way. But we can always improve. And yes: We should take the lessons of Jar Jar and Star Wars in general and start applying them in the real world if we truly want to transform the world around us. Our focus determines our reality. So do our actions.

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