I like Star Wars—both original trilogy and the prequels. (Second gen fan, speaking!) I’ve dabbled reading the books and nothing more, but the movies are still good. Today I thought I’d talk about a character I hold near and dear to my heart.
|via The Independent|
I mean, firstly, he’s hilarious. That’s my sense of humor. He made me smile, and that’s what I liked about him.
He’s also Gungan. Not a Jedi, not a Sith, not anything more than what he is. Gungan. One of the lovely things about the prequels is that they really broaden the culture and depth of the galaxy the originals introduced. Episodes IV–VI only really develop Tatooine and Endor’s planetary cultures, because, true to its name, the rest is a war in the stars—rebel alliances, imperial missions, blaster battles, and asteroid fields.
(Yes, Hoth and Dagobah are portrayed, but more as wild places than developed societies, y’know?)
Though we have the Lars family and Ewoks to anchor us on Tatooine and Endor, we meet Jar Jar on a more intimate level on Naboo. He has significant screentime to present the artful bubble homes, values, systems, and speech of a non-human species present in the society. We get to observe his personal interactions and his reactions outside of his own element. Though individually clumsy, he’s culturally bred to handle things in certain ways, and teaches us about Gungans as a whole.
You think I’m wrong? Think about it. He displays a strong respect for the authority of Qui-Gon Jinn and the Force, just as he’s taught to respect his king’s authority (which is, after all, why he stays in exile). Excepting his clumsy moments, he displays caution, and even panics outright in the Gooberfish scene—that fear later motivates his entire colony to hide from the droid army. Despite his reservations, Jar Jar fulfills his duty to Qui-Gon under the terms of his life debt, and despite Gungan reservations they fulfill their agreement and fight alongside the Naboo against the Federation.
And, of course, Jar Jar is a fairly happy, pacifistic character. By the end of the movie, we also find that his culture values celebration and peace.
He’s a normal Gungan, as far as I can see.
In fact, he’s one of the only normal people who isn’t genetically predestined for adventures of epic proportions or raised amongst embroilments between alliances and federations and rebellions and empires. Admittedly, Jar Jar later represents Naboo with Padme on the Senate, but it’s a job he never expected to have. That might be exactly why he does have it. He’s just a guy. A normal dude with normal fears and normal desires who was raised to have a normal life.
Star Wars often portrays extraordinary events in the lives of extraordinary people. It’s romantic, and we enjoy it. Still, sometimes we forget Jar Jar was one among billions of average citizens living normal lives in that galaxy. So intent is our focus on average adventures of extraordinary people, we forget the extraordinary sacrifices ordinary people made for things to be that way.
After all, when it comes down to it, Jar Jar’s efforts extend to support and defend one thing we all hold dear: