There is a Jar Jar In ALL Of Us!

There is a Jar Jar In ALL Of Us!

Jay’s Galactic Espressions


In Honor of National Bullying Prevention Month

Albert Einstein wrote, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” (1)

Awkward in social situations. Body parts on a seemingly ridiculously large-scale. Clumsy at all the wrong times. Shunned by people you thought were your friends, for a reason you don’t really understand.

Sounds like I’m describing Jar Jar Binks to a tee, right?

Possibly, but that little laundry list of character traits also applied to me when I was in junior high and high school – or what I thought was me, at least. They were the things I hated about myself. The things I thought everyone else was seeing about me, and on which I were being measured on some imaginary “social acceptance yardstick.”

I’m betting many of you can relate to having similar feelings of awkwardness and questionable self-esteem during your teenage years. We’ve all been there, some of us on a larger scale than others. I don’t mean to sound like I was depressed or suicidal. Nothing like that, actually. I was a pretty happy-go-lucky teenage girl who loved her friends, acting goofy at any chance I got; listening to Prince, and buying clothes, makeup and nail polish.

I was also captain of the varsity cheerleading squad, first chair flute/piccolo in band, editor-in-chief of our high school newspaper, president of the French Club, and nominated for both homecoming and prom queen (among many other accomplishments of which I am proud). The reason I mention this is not to toot my own horn, but to make the point that on the outside, no one would have guessed that I was dealing with my own inner demons and struggles. No one would have known I felt exactly like Jar Jar, when I was wishing I could be more like Yoda.

Here’s the ironic thing – the wiser, adult me has decided that Jar Jar is actually A LOT like Yoda. Yep, there it is, folks. I said it. Think about it: Yoda talks “backwards,” but because we know him to be a wise Jedi Master, we call it “Yoda Speak.” We really don’t know much of anything about Yoda’s species, so we have no one against to compare his actions and mannerisms. For all we know, Yoda could have had a speech impediment (which still doesn’t give anyone license to ridicule him, but we all know how people can be). He could have been the most socially awkward guy at the lunch table, and the clumsiest dude in gym class.

Yoda had been around for 900 years, and in that time, he helped form the Jedi Order as we all knew it. No one really questioned his actions or his wisdom. I’ve been saying for years that I believe Yoda had the essence of the Jedi all wrong – after all, why say “only Sith deal in absolutes,” then turn around and use “do, or do not – there is no try” as your signature mantra? Don’t get me wrong – Yoda is amazing, but I’ve come to the realization that he’s definitely not perfect.

I also think about this scene comparison between Jar Jar slinging a booma at the Trade Federation Battle on Naboo, and this Ewok, at the Battle of Endor:


In the former case, the character is seen as clumsy and useless, and in the latter, cute and endearing. Why?

Many fans have also blamed Jar Jar for the fall of the Republic, because it was his motion to enact the Emergency Powers Act in Palpatine’s favor, setting that particular booma in motion. He was only doing exactly what he thought Padmé would have done in that situation. Had Padmé made the motion, she would have been praised and given apologetic solace, because no one at the time could have possibly foreshadowed Palpatine’s true intentions.

Jar Jar performed beautifully and regally in his position as Senator of Naboo. As a junior senator studying under Padmé, he was pretty much thrown into the role, due to the assassination attempts on Padmé’s life. He continued to serve his people after her death, but no one talks about that. They only want to expound upon his shortcomings.

I know what some of you may be thinking: “Lighten up: Jar Jar was meant to be a joke in Star Wars. Comic relief. A gag. We were supposed to make fun of him, right?”


Wrong. Even Ahmed Best, the actor who portrayed the voice and body actions of Jar Jar Binks was dumbfounded by the hatred his character had generated. Best said the backlash was “painful” to experience. He said that one of the reasons he took the role was because it was so challenging, since the whole concept of his character “hadn’t been done before.” As he pointed out, his role predated the computer-generated Gollum from Lord of The Rings and Avatar’s Navi, and he and George Lucas were “so focused on the challenge of it and having so much fun that the post-Star Wars stuff was kind of a surprise” to him – one that he took personally, because he was so “emotionally invested” in the character.

Best did say that he understood why the adults who saw The Phantom Menace at its initial release in 1999 may have been put off by Jar Jar’s character, because they may have felt “a bit condescended to:” they were expecting a more serious character. He also pointed out that he thinks the children who saw TPM at that time and thought Jar Jar to be funny, are now adults, wondering “why everybody had a problem” at the time.

Check out the full video interview with Jamie Stangroom, on his YouTube Channel “These Are the Actors You’re Looking For.

My point is that we ALL have an inner Jar Jar Binks inside us, and we need to embrace that, not shun it. Yes, Jar Jar was meant to be comical in many ways, but for the purpose of enabling us to laugh at OURSELVES, not each other. I truly believe that the people who full-out hate Jar Jar are those who have never confronted their inner demons – those who still struggle with the negative traits they see reflected in the mirror – like that bully on the playground who has low self-esteem, but tries to make up for it by maliciously targeting someone seemingly weaker than themselves, just to feel better.

Jar Jar was just a fish trying to climb a tree. Aren’t we all, sometimes?

More information on National Bullying Prevention Month.

Leave your comments below, or you can contact me directly. My favorite social media vice is Twitter, just so you know!

email: jayk@coffeewithkenobi.com
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May the Force be with you, and remember…

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Source (1) “Everybody Is a Genius. But If You Judge a Fish by Its Ability to Climb a Tree, It Will Live Its Whole Life Believing That It Is Stupid.” Quote Investigator. N.p., 6 Apr. 2013. Web. 16 Oct. 2016.

Photo credits: USAToday.com, Wookieepedia.com, MakeAGIF.com

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  1. Melinda
    October 18, 2016 at 09:04 Reply

    You probably have heard me say this before (yet I will repeat myself 😉 ) — I LOVED Jar Jar in Episode I! 🙂 (And I wasn’t a youngster at the time. Well, in spirit … but definitely not in age. 😉 ) And I hope Ahmed Best knows that not all the adult fans of Star Wars were part of the “Hate Jar Jar” backlash. I have a few choice words for those who were on that particular bandwagon … but I will not share them here. They don’t belong here. Suffice it to say: Those who were/are part of that particular enclave JUST DON’T GET STAR WARS! (That’s about as tactful as I choose to get at this particular point in time.) [Same goes for the Ewoks.]

    What a wonderful blog, Jay! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and insight into this topic. I imagine you have a ringside seat to bullying situations given your “real” job, and this topic certainly bears examining and reexamining and reexamining.

    Thank you so much for addressing this topic — both the broader bullying issue, and Jar Jar’s face on it. It’s important to remember that not only children have bullies with whom to contend. Some people never grow out of that “stage” (I mean the young bullies oftentimes will grow up to be adult bullies). 🙁

    MTFBWY 🙂

    1. Jay Krebs
      October 21, 2016 at 16:03 Reply

      I love hearing everything you have to say, no matter if its repeated or not lol!!

      I was pregnant with my oldest son when I saw TPM in the theater, and didn’t even think twice about Jar Jar, really. It’s like the prequel haters (don’t even get me started on that one)…I didn’t even know they existed until about two years (or so) ago. I just don’t get it – why pick apart something you love, just to find fault in it?? It makes me wonder what type of relationships those kind of people have – do they do the same things to their loved ones?? Sad, if that’s the case *smh*

      And, you’re absolutely right about the fact that I see the effect of bullying first-hand every day in the high school setting. Social media has definitely given a new dimension to bullying, as well…

      You’re also spot-on with your point about adult bullies – I have to deal with a clique of moms in my oldest son’s class who think they have to be up in everyone’s business, and have their will be done for everything – from spirit clubs to prom planning. Ugh. I actually quit going to the prom committee stuff because I can’t even stand the feeling I get when I’m around them!! It’s sad in a way, but I’m a much happier person. I can still be involved without being involved with THEM – which is exactly how I want it to be!!

      Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!!! ((((hugs))))

  2. Pam Bruchwalski
    October 19, 2016 at 10:11 Reply

    I love this entry.

    I have always wondered why people have such strong, negative reactions to Jar Jar. You make great points in your comparisons to Yoda, and it makes me wonder about the writing and direction of The Phantom Menace rather than the acting of Ahmed Best. The Maker clearly decided ahead of time that Yoda was to be respected and Jar Jar wasn’t, but you’re right. Jar Jar isn’t “just” disrespected or laughed at. He’s bullied.

    I picture him as pretty darned cool walking through that forest with Qui-Gon Jinn.

    Bullying sucks, and unfortunately, it seems to linger into adulthood for those who are the most entrenched in their bullying – or bullied – modes.

    Thank you for using Star Wars to draw attention to a very real problem.

    1. Jay Krebs
      October 21, 2016 at 16:08 Reply

      I adore that reference to Jar Jar walking through the forest – heck yes, he’s cool!!

      Thanks for pointing out the fact that it was “decided ahead of time” who was to be respected and who wasn’t… it’s reminiscent of “Mean Girls” in a way!! “On Wednesdays we wear brown tunics…” 😀

      I just don’t get the whole bullying mentality. I often wonder if there’s a chemical imbalance of some sort that propels someone into that role. Nature vs nurture??

      Meditate on this, I will!
      *Muah*!! Much love!!

      1. Pam Bruchwalski
        October 23, 2016 at 16:51 Reply

        LOL. “On Wednesdays we wear brown tunics.”

        Such an interesting question as to whether or not it’s nature or nurture that makes one a bully. Or a victim. Or anything for that matter. Different days, I believe different things, and it’s probably a combination of both.


  3. Hannah
    October 19, 2016 at 16:36 Reply

    <3 Mee'sa think'sa you'sa hit the nail on the head<3 <3 <3 <3 After reading this it brought back some memories, but isn't that a trait of a great writer, the ability to enthrall and provoke a deep thought process. Really love the analogy….truly well done. 🙂

    1. Jay Krebs
      October 21, 2016 at 16:09 Reply

      Thank you! I know it won’t change many of the minds of those set in their hateful ways, but if just one person can “see the light ” I guess my job here is done!

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