A Bad Case of the Jar Jars
As readers of this website are perhaps aware, I have a bit of a soft spot for things that everyone seems to agree are terrible. I find myself naturally gravitating towards the most obnoxious character or element of any television show or movie. Let’s just say that if the Itchy & Scratchy show were real Poochie would easily be my favorite character and I would mourn his unfortunate death en route to his home planet the way I would a member of my own family.
That’s a big part of what inspired me to launch My World of Flops and This Looks Terrible! If everyone else is running in horror and disgust from something big and hated in pop culture, chances are good I’ll be running towards it. I love trawling through the pop-culture gutters. I dig things that are terrible. I am endlessly fascinated by garbage.
So it’s not surprising that when I decided to do a deep dive into the most maligned aspect of the 1999 atrocity The Phantom Menace for the second entry in the second Year of Flops I instantly became obsessed all over again with Jar Jar Binks.
Part of this was attributable to the nature of my work: I was writing very specifically about Jar Jar Binks, so I needed to think long and hard, and as deeply as possible, about motherfucking Jar Jar Binks. I let Jar Jar Binks into my mind knowing damn well that it would be tough to get him out.
That may be by design. It’s possible that George Lucas designed Jar Jar Binks to be so unbelievably obnoxious and unbearable that nobody would notice how dreadfully boring every other aspect of The Phantom Menace is.
Since I watched The Phantom Menace about two weeks ago I have not been able to purge Jar Jar Binks from my imagination. The silly-talking space frog has taken up seemingly permanent residence in my mind along with all of his obnoxious catch-phrases, quirks and idiosyncrasies.
It’s hard trying to provide for your family, be a good father to your two children and husband to your wife when, at any given moment, phrases like, “How Wude!”, “Ex-Squeeze Me!” and “Mesa called Jar Jar Binks, mesa your humble servant!” are rampaging through your mind, making it difficult to concentrate on serious business, like writing about the Star Wars Holiday Special.
In one of his best-sellers, Malcolm Gladwell talks about the concept of “stickiness”, a concept that, in true Gladwellian form, is irresistible in no small part because it’s so vague and reductive. Stickiness refers to an element in a movie or TV show or some other human endeavor that sticks out in people’s imagination for whatever reason long after it should have been forgotten. Forrest Gump saying “Life is like a box of chocolates” embodies the concept of stickiness. You don’t even have to seen the movie to not only be familiar with that noxious catchphrase but to also have it cycling through your mind at random intervals like a relatively benign pop culture version of Persistent Negative Thoughts.
Jar Jar similarly personifies stickiness. Once that child-like, sing-song cadence gets inside your head it’s very hard to get it out.
Considering the intense effect Jar Jar Binks’ antics had on my psyche I can only imagine what life might have been like in 1999 when literally millions of people all over the world went through their everyday lives with Jar Jar Binks’ inane catchphrases ricocheting through their minds and imaginations.
It’s surprising that society was able to function at all with so many people thinking about Jar Jar Binks so often, even if they absolutely despised him. Especially if they despised him. I got a bad case of the Jar Jar Binks. It’s not enough for me to think about that monster and his words way too often; I’m also moved to talk like Jar Jar Binks as well, and nobody wants that, mesa least of all.
I mean, me least of all. As with many maladies, real and imagined, serious or absurd, I suspect that the only thing that will cure this affliction is time. Who knows, someday I may even forget Jar Jar entirely but you and I both know that’s not at all likely or even possible. No one can possibly forget Jar Jar Binks, albeit not for the reasons George Lucas intended.
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