I’ve mentioned a couple of times in the past about how I actually like The Phantom Menace, but I don’t think I’d go quite as far as Telegraph columnist Ed Cumming. In his editorial “The Tragedy of Jar Jar Binks,” Cumming defends the bungling Rastamphibian costar of Episode I, arguing that the fans of the original trilogy “grew up and came to reflect on [Star Wars] with adult experience. Jar Jar didn’t fit. He was the victim of a double standard that allowed for comic relief or even profundity in the form of weird aliens, but not out-and-out Buster Keaton-style slapstick.
Jar Jar was hated because people thought he was out of place, but the opposite was true. The same people who went online to list ways to murder him are those who take the garbled mutterings of an antediluvian swamp-frog, Yoda, as great wisdom.
Jar Jar was the whole essence of Star Wars. He was awkward but trying his best in a complex galaxy, pitted against vast forces of evil. Unlike the po-faced Jedi he didn’t have magic on his side. He made mistakes but was capable of surprising feats under duress. He was funny and warm and slightly hapless. Meesa Jar Jar. We allsa Jar Jar.
So is Cumming onto something? Is Jar Jar due for a critical reappraisal — a revival, even redemption? Could some gifted Millennial filmmaker who thrilled to Binks’ antic capering back in second grade find a way to bring him back into the fold in time for Episode X? Would most religions consider this a sign of the Apocalypse? Yousa thinken people ganna DIE?