Jar Jar Binks is easily the most hate player in the history of the vast Star Wars mythos, and that’s saying something considering that Star Wars fans are some of the most ungrateful lot of fanatics this side of the Dallas Cowboys. However, where the Cowboys instinctively harken back to their Super Bowl-winning glory days of the 90s, Star Wars fans cling to preconceived notions and hallow notions of what they believe a Star Wars character should be.
Episode 1: The Real Phantom Menace. If you think this is the peak, then you don’t know whats coming. Copyright Disney, Not Monetizing.
Binks, played by actor Ahmed Best in most renditions of the character, had been lambasted by both mainstream Star Wars fans, some of whom believe Jar Jar was added just to appeal to children, and black Star Wars fans, some of whom believed the Jar Jar Binks character was a racial stereotype disguised as a sci-fi character.
Indeed, a Wall Street Journal article described Binks as a Rastafarian Stepin Fetchit crossed annoyingly with Butterfly McQueen.
Both Best and Lucas denied any racial talk around the character. Created by George Lucas, Jar Jar Binks’ mannerism and vocalizations were created by Best, who is a black man. The imagination is such that often times one doesn’t know how it will come out, or how people will react.
Recently, Best went public with feelings of suicide he battled due to the overwhelmingly negative reception for Jar Jar Binks.
On July 3, Ahmad Best posted a photo to Twitter with his son overlooking the ocean. He admitted that approximately 20 years ago he almost committed suicide at that location.
20 years next year I faced a media backlash that still affects my career today. This was the place I almost ended my life. It’s still hard to talk about. I survived and now this little guy is my gift for survival. Would this be a good story for my solo show?
As is often the case after the fact with such a personal revelation, Best received a large pouring of support from fans and supporters. At the risk of sounding like a cynical a-hole, it’s a safe bet that a large number of those supportive fans were among the legions that absolutely hated Jar Jar.
But people are as fickle as they are numerous. So even if Binks wasn’t “coonish”, there would have still been legions of fans that didn’t like the character for one reason or another. Admittedly, I didn’t like Jar Jar either, but I didn’t take it as a personal affront as others did.
(Jar Jar Binks’ actor, Ahmed Best in 2002/Getty)
For reasons that can only be speculated upon, the dark side always takes ahold of fans whenever a character is outside of their hubris-laden expectations of what the character should be.
Actor Jake Lloyd was 9-years-old when he played the role of young Anakin Skywalker in The Phantom Menace. It should have been the role of a lifetime, but he quit acting after constant teasing by other children.
As a child running through Central Jersey streets, my imagination was the single saving grace. With the advent of the Star Wars universe, I found a completely different galaxy to play in and a different reality to ponder. One totally different from the world I lived in.
Other children were really mean to me,” he said. “They would make the sound of the lightsaber every time they saw me. It was totally mad.”
He has since been committed to a psychiatric facility as of 2016 after being diagnosed with schizophrenia. This year actress Kelly Marie Tran, who played Rose Tico in The Last Jedi and was the first non-white female lead in a Star Wars film, quit Instagram in June due to constant bullying about her ethnicity and her weight.
Daisy Ridley, who played the role of Rey in The Force Awakens, played the first female Jedi protagonist in the Star Wars Cinematic Universe, and she also canceled her Instagram account, albeit briefly, in 2017 saying it was bad for mental health.
A pattern is clearly discernable and it plays to the revelation that rabid fans are worse on the psychology of the actors who dare try to entertain us by bringing these characters to life.