The truth about Jar Jar Binks

The Phantom Menace came out a decade ago and there are plenty of geeks my age who are still pissed about the very existence of Jar Jar Binks. Yes, the Jamaican-accented clumsy Gungan, who bumbles, fumbles and ultimately is Palpatine's stooge.

The ironic thing is, my 6 year old son considers Jar Jar harmless comic relief. That good ole Jar Jar, talking funny like Yoda, but not serious, even about himself. He's good for a few gags. His appeal to kids is obvious and Lucas' point to some extent. Almost any Cartoon Network series has a buffoon character somewhere and why? Because he makes the other characters and the audience feel more competent. And 30-something geeks who had hoped to relive their childhoods at a Star Wars movie need to get a grip. You dug the Ewoks and Jawas, right? At least the Gungans managed to build beautiful cities, rather than treehouses and rolling lunch boxes.

The truth is that JJ Binks moves the plot along and is visually interesting. It's funny that he is an outcast among his own people. He gives the Queen the idea for allying with the Gungans by showing how even goofy morons can be of aid sometimes, like when they are taken seriously. And he manages to help defeat the droid army at the end of Phantom.

But he is not the most annoying and useless character in the Star Wars movies. No, that honor belongs to... you guessed it... C-3PO. Yes, I loved him too as a character, but he was completely useless and a gaping plot hole. Why didn't Artoo have a vocalizer? Rockets in his legs, holographic projector, computer interface and a blue shocky thing, but can't vocalize Basic? If Artoo could speak, there would be no need for Threepio. A protocol droid? Built by Anakin? Why didn't Anakin build Artoo? Artoo, like the Jawas and Ewoks, appealed to kids. Threepio appealed to no one.

And he's a prissy worrywart English butler, as Lucas intended. Not a cool English butler, like Batman's Alfred Pennyworth. Did you notice that everyone in Star Wars with an English accent is an Imperial? Except Threepio. Maybe if Threepio turned out to be an Imperial spy and went HAL on the Millenium Falcon and Han Solo, that would have justified his existence. Maybe if there was some reason he had to store the Death Star plans. But no, he's just an idiot slowing everyone else down.

There were only three good moments with Threepio: when he was shot to pieces in Cloud City, when Jabba backhanded him, and when Salacious Crumb pulled his photoreceptor (eye) out. The outraged/scared/worried Threepio gag got old by, uh, let's see, the Sand People attack on Luke in New Hope. When he advises Luke and Ben to leave him behind, they should have looked at each other, shrugged, and pitched his goldbricking ass down another sand dune. Hell, Luke tried to give him away in Jedi (you knew he wasn't really giving away Artoo because he had Luke's lightsaber), and I don't recall Leia mentioning him in her holographic message. Shit, even Artoo seemed surprised to see Threepio again on Jabba's sail barge, and you know he was thinking, "What the hell is wrong with Jabba? The old Jabba would have melted down this pain in ass to make a doorknob or something. Can't trust anyone any more."

Finally, the Clone Wars cartoon series recently had an episode "Bombad Jedi" that paired C-3PO with Jar Jar. And guess what, C-3PO is a nattering moron, and Jar Jar, by comparison, looks like an action hero.

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