By Christian Corah
Jar Jar Binks.
If you’re a diehard Star Wars fan, you probably have strong emotions toward this character. Just by reading his name, you may feel some disgust and annoyance.
For many, Jar Jar was the fatal flaw of the prequels, especially for The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. He is a bumbling fool that has seemingly no place among the various intelligent characters in Star Wars. The fact that accomplished Jedi like Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan took Jar Jar under their personal protection is surprising enough, but even wise Padmé Amidala gave great political power to this creature with the mind of a child.
To make matters even more troubling, he essentially saved everyone by uniting those on Naboo with the Gungans in the fight against the Separatists. It is paradoxical that a character like Jar Jar can have such a pivotal role in the Star Wars universe.
However, when I think of Jar Jar I don’t feel any of these negative emotions toward him.
I know what you’re probably thinking: “Oh no, here’s another Jar Jar sympathizer that we have to deal with.” I understand that thought process, but hear me out.
For starters, I must admit why I even feel the need to defend Jar Jar. For me, it’s all about defending the prequels. Since Jar Jar is one of the major problems fans have with the prequels (that and the whole Attack of the Clones acting/dialogue debacle), it seems like a good place to start.
Most Star Wars fans were first introduced to the franchise through the original trilogy, so that is where their love was founded. This is one of the reasons so many have great love and respect for those movies and not as much for the prequel trilogy.
But my entry into the Star Wars universe was slightly different. Growing up, the only Star Wars I knew was The Phantom Menace. I didn’t even know other Star Wars existed, but I was comfortable with it.
I loved the movie and would rewatch it over and over. There wasn’t any part of the movie that I didn’t like. I didn’t especially like Jar Jar, but I didn’t dislike him either. It wasn’t until later in my childhood that I was introduced to the original trilogy. I immediately fell in love with those films as well, but my love for Star Wars was founded in The Phantom Menace.
When I think of Jar Jar, instead of negative emotions, I get a positive feeling of nostalgia. It takes me back to when I first watched Star Wars and thoroughly enjoyed this new universe that I was being exposed to.
So hopefully you now have an understanding of why I feel the need to defend Jar Jar’s character and maybe it opens your mind up to the rest of what I have to say.
I’ll start with what is most frustrating to fans about Jar Jar. He is clearly an idiot. He was literally kicked out of his homeworld for being clumsy.
However, despite his insufficient intelligence, Jar Jar is incredibly successful at what he does. Like I mentioned earlier, he has a crucial role in The Phantom Menace and is even successful at persuading the senate to become an Empire (although this is far from heroic by Jar Jar, he is still successful in what he intended to do).
It just doesn’t add up that a character as silly as Jar Jar could make such a large impact on the Star Wars universe.
What Jar Jar does is introduce chaos to Star Wars. With chaos, there are no rules. Anything could happen. Chaos is an uncomfortable feeling in the real world beyond just Star Wars. It is an inherently uncomfortable feeling. It is a reason why so many people believe in a higher power, because it establishes order.
With order comes logic, and that makes us feel comfortable. We know what to expect. We often turn to stories and fables to escape our chaotic world and find order, so when chaos is presented into a story we have grown to love, it is natural to respond with abhorrence.
It is also natural to respond with theories that can help establish order. You may be aware of a popular theory that sparks much controversy among Star Wars fans.
Darth Jar Jar. Before you click off of this article because I even dared to mention Darth Jar Jar, I will say that I do not believe in this theory, as great as it is. But some of the content behind the theory leads me to the foundation of my own theory. I won’t go into too much detail regarding the Darth Jar Jar theory, to do so you should watch the explanation by Dash Star.
The point of the theory was to provide a reason for Jar Jar’s bizarre behavior. It makes sense why he was so successful despite being so unintelligent if his intellect was merely a facade. If Jar Jar was a highly trained Sith Lord the whole time, his actions start to make a little more sense.
It also becomes clear why Jar Jar would convince the senate to become a Galactic Empire under Palpatine since Jar Jar was working for them the whole time. If one truly believes in this, it does provide some order into the prequels. But there’s the problem, one actually must commit to believing in this theory, and I for one cannot.
There are two concepts from George Lucas that the theory is founded on. Lucas referred to Star Wars as being “like poetry.” Altogether, Lucas infers that the movies “rhyme.”
This means that some of what happened in the original trilogy should also be referenced in the prequel trilogy. Lucas loved the idea of a character at first appearing to be clumsy with the subsequent realization that they are both powerful and intelligent. This was done with Yoda in the original trilogy. When Luke first met Yoda, Yoda appeared to be goofy and to only want a few scraps of food (and maybe go five rounds in the octagon against R2-D2). This, of course, was far from the truth of who Yoda is.
The Darth Jar Jar theory infers that Jar Jar was originally meant to be a similar character for the Prequel Trilogy. He would appear foolish in The Phantom Menace and in a later movie it would be revealed that Jar Jar had been a dangerous Sith the whole time.
However, Jar Jar got so much backlash from fans that Lucas was forced to slightly change the direction of the story. Instead of Darth Jar Jar, Count Dooku’s character was quickly created. This is why Dooku seemingly came out of nowhere, because Lucas was not counting on needing him for the story.
But this is my main issue with the Darth Jar Jar theory. If Lucas decided to go another direction with the writing, it completely discredits the theory. Instead of being real, the theory becomes completely hypothetical. There is still the explanation that Jar Jar was a Sith Lord and just never got his big reveal, but I still find that unconvincing. Statistically, it just doesn’t seem likely. If a random character can be a dangerous Sith Lord with little evidence, that almost creates more chaos than it establishes order.
That brings me to my theory for Jar Jar. I do not believe that Jar Jar is playing dumb, I think he is as dimwitted as other Star Wars fans believe. There is nothing in the movies that suggests Jar Jar has anything close to average intelligence. However, I do believe that Jar Jar uses the Force and is Force-sensitive.
This is not a preposterous assumption, since every living being contains midichlorians and with midichlorians one has some force potential. While this is somewhat of a gray area, more midichlorians marks someone’s ability to communicate with and use the Force.
Beings all over the galaxy are Force-sensitive. The boy at the end of The Last Jedi is a great example of a character who, with no training, can use the Force (Baby Yoda also uses the Force with no training). If we knew nothing about Jar Jar, he would be as likely as anyone to use the Force.
But we do know a decent amount about Jar Jar and what we know actually provides evidence that he does use the Force. Take the battle for Naboo as an example. After almost getting run over, Jar Jar recovered and unleashed a barrage of boomas (the blue plasma balls) on the enemy.
He danced around and avoided all the boomas as they rolled down the hill, destroying at least one Armored Assault Tank (AAT). In another tricky situation, Jar Jar found himself dangling on the barrel of one of the AATs. Jar Jar got tossed a small booma, juggled it for a brief moment, and tossed it into the droid controlling the AAT at the precise moment the droid surfaced. It appears silly, but Jar Jar is again successful and that cannot be ignored.
But those aren’t even the best examples from the battle. With a droid stuck around Jar Jar’s ankle, he was able to jump and dive around so that the blaster in the droid’s hand took out two other droids and a dangerous droideka. It is a truly incredible maneuver. I would even be impressed if a highly-trained Jedi were to pull off this maneuver.
So all Jar Jar prejudice aside, it really does appear that he is using the Force in these examples. It is a better explanation than him getting lucky time and time again. He should have died many times, but he did not.
So Jar Jar may use the Force, but I don’t believe he is aware of it. In my theory, Jar Jar is still unintelligent, but unintelligence doesn’t mean that Jar Jar can’t use the Force. Jedi and Sith consciously train with the Force. This is an important distinction since they put effort into using the Force. They are aware of it. Once they have trained, they can use the Force in battle unconsciously.
This means they are so good with the Force that they can use it with little or no effort. Behavior and movement is actually performed best when controlled by the unconscious mind, so this explains why the Jedi are so successful with the Force.
Regarding Jar Jar, my belief is that he uses the Force unconsciously, and has been most of his life. He does not have conscious control over it, but he uses it in a way that appears clumsy while time and time again saving his life. Instead of using the Force to lift rocks, Jar Jar uses it to aid his actions. I encourage you to rewatch The Phantom Menace with the mindset that Jar Jar is using the Force unconsciously. For me, it did help establish more reason for the events that took place and I hope it does the same for you.
This theory does rely on the assumption that Jar Jar is Force-sensitive, but this is a more believable assumption to me than him being both Force-sensitive and a Sith Lord. It is also more believable than Jar Jar being a clumsy fool who keeps haphazardly finding success. That is chaos since it does not follow any logical rules. Jar Jar using the Force unconsciously is the best explanation for his behavior and re-establishes order to the prequel trilogy.
About the author:
Christian Corah is an Applied Sport Psychology graduate student and Adjunct Professor at Adams State University. He has been writing about Star Wars since September 2019. He loves all Star Wars, especially content in the Extended Universe.