George Lucas is an evil genius. There is simply no other reasonable explanation for what has just occurred in my formerly contentedly geeky family. I can barely bring myself to write this… Earlier this week, my kids decided that they think Jar Jar Binks is great.
I’d tried to bring up my kids (who are eight and six) the right way, with regard to Star Wars. I showed them the first movie, which is to say Episode IV, first — followed, of course, by Episodes V and VI. They loved them, even going as Darth Vader and Princess Leia for Halloween last year, and my wife and I got them some toys, and all was going well. Then they started watching the “Clone Wars” TV show, which wasn’t so horrible even if it did have Ahsoka Tano and sometimes Jar Jar. Whenever there was an episode with Jar Jar, I would try to explain that he’s annoying and idiotic without actually saying so, and dissuade my kids from imitating his style of speech.
But they still hadn’t seen the prequel trilogy, and I was just fine with that. They knew the basic stories, having read books based on parts of them and played the LEGO videogame versions of them, but, since we don’t own DVDs of Episodes I – III, they knew that begging to see them would get them nowhere. I suppose in the long run it was inevitable, though: My kids were over at my parents’ house while my mom watched them, and Episode I happened to be on TV. And that, sadly, is how the tragic story unfolded: By the time I came home from work they were not only talking like Jar Jar but also writing phrases as Jar Jar would speak them, and talking animatedly with each other about how funny Jar Jar was.
My kids are pretty smart — I don’t like to brag, it’s just the truth. And up to now they’ve had pretty good geek sense: We’ve read, as a family, The Hobbit and the Narnia books, and we’re more than halfway through the Harry Potter books, and they’ve loved them all. They would probably watch Phineas and Ferb all day if we’d let them. So why, then, are they so drawn to a character that causes near-universal revulsion in those past puberty? Yes, exactly: Because George Lucas cleverly designed Jar Jar Binks so that kids would love him but adults would hate him. Why would he do that? Because it’s part of an evil scheme to take over the world, of course.
Yes, Lucas is an evil genius. Maybe he really can’t write dialog better than a marginally talented twelve-year-old could, or maybe it’s just a ruse. Maybe he deliberately picked really bad actors to play Anakin Skywalker as a boy and young man. Maybe the plot is already complete and we just don’t realize it because he’s just that devious. Or maybe the final stage of the plan has yet to be sprung.
I know it sounds like a strange idea, but it’s the only reasonable explanation for my kids latching on to Jar Jar, right? It would fit right into a Pinky and the Brain episode, so it must be true!
(Thanks to fellow GeekDad Chuck Lawton for the tweet that helped me with the idea for this post.)