Why is Jar Jar Binks one of the Most Hated Characters of All Time?
The continually expandin Star Wars universe has introduced a growing number of characters in its movies, TV spinoffs, books, and more. From droids, to humans, to all kinds of weird and wonderful aliens, we’ve seen them all. But amongst every character, there’s one who is particularly famous for being the most hated of all time, Jar Jar Binks. But just why is Jar Jar Binks one of the most hated characters of all time?
Star Wars began its journey in 1977 with the movie now known as Star Wars: A New Hope, introducing viewers to an immense new universe with iconic heroes and villains This new movie, along with its sequels Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, would go on to be the first of two additional triologies.
It would be at the turn of the 21st century that the 2nd trilogy arrived, a prequel trilogy which told the story of Anakin Skywalker and his path to becoming Darth Vader. This was followed in the 2010s by the sequel trilogy, collectively forming what is known as the Skywalker Saga. However, these new trilogies have long proved controversial amongst fans. In particular, the prequel trilogy’s Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, was derided for introducing one of the most hated and controversial characters in “the history of film in general” (As described on Wikipedia): The one and only Jar Jar Binks.
Jar Jar Binks, portrayed by Ahmed Best, is a “Gungan” from the planet Naboo who in the film encounters the Jedi Qui-Gon Jin and Obi-Wan Kenobi, who are escaping from a failed attempt to negotiate with the Trade Federation, who under the instructions of Darth Sidious tried to kill them. Although the vitriolic reception the character received seen his scope in the following films reduced, he nonetheless received overwhelming hatred from fans and critics alike
As noted, Jar Jar Binks first appeared in Episode I: The Phantom Menace, which tells the story of how he was banished from his Gungan tribe for his constant foolishness. It would be during the escape of the two Jedi that they escaped to the planet and Qui-Gon incidentally saved him from an incoming droid transport, forming an unlikely relationship. He then proceeded to tag along with the two Jedi and bring them to his city, becoming a supporting character throughout the story.
Most controversial to the fanbase was the revelation that Jar Jar Binks was brought into the Star Wars franchise as a comic relief character and appeal to children, in an effort to give them a character they would find entertaining. George Lucas was allegedly inspired by the goofy comedian Buster Keaton. However, the character lacked charm and was for most audiences: unfunny, leading it to be met with large scale disapproval. Worse still, critics soon accused Jar Jar of being a racist stereotype, in particular a parody of West Indies and Caribbean culture through his use of dialogue and accent
As a result, Jar Jar Binks became one of the most hated Star Wars characters at that given time. Yet in years to come opinions would change somewhat following a notorious post on Reddit in 2015 which produced a groundbreaking novel theory that Jar Jar Binks was not intended to always be a comic relief clown but in fact was a Sith Lord who was secretly in league with Palpatine himself; a skilled user of the force who was part of the plot to manipulate Anakin to the Dark side.
The Reddit post went viral, received major press coverage, and the character even got the nickname “Darth Jar Jar”, with many fans backing up the theory. The theory became even more popular when Ahmed Best, the actor behind Jar Jar Binks who had suffered major personal pain from the character’s reception, hinted on social media that many aspects of it are true, and Jar Jar could have evolved into an antagonist, but all the backlash it got put an end to that potential. The ”Darth Jar Jar” theory nonetheless helped change the opinion of many Star Wars fans, who thought this idea gave an actual purpose to an otherwise annoying character and became more tolerant and open minded towards the infamous Gungan.
Ultimately though, the Star Wars fandom has been known for its bitterness, and this sentiment has only worsened as social media has grown, and not least with the way the new trilogy was received and became embedded in political “culture wars”, as well as controversies with writing and various directors. Jar Jar Binks, who represented an unacceptable reminder that the franchise was in fact targeted at children, as George Lucas had previously confirmed, much to their disdain, subsequently became an early target of their mass organized hatred which can often be overtly critical and harsh to the franchise and its actors, perhaps becoming the most hated character ever. In this case, this had a significantly tough impact on the life of Ahmed Best who because of the reception the character received, even contemplated suicide.