Jar Jar, Ruby Rhod, and the legacy of Urkel

You’re going to have to bear with me on this one, because it was only just the other day that several different things I’ve been ruminating on for a couple of years now suddenly crashed into each other like a bunch of… crashy things, that are all interconnected somehow. I suppose the best way to start would be to just lay out my thought process step-by-step.

I was in a conversation where we discussed some of the casting controversies in popular geek movies over the last few years (Heimdall and Johnny Storm being played by black actors, Rue from The Hunger Games and Cho from Order of the Phoenix being played by actresses who were the same race as their characters in the books instead of the white girls “everyone” just assumed they were, etc.), when we broached the subject of how Lavender Brown, Ron’s annoying girlfriend in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, had previously been played by a black actress when she was just a mute extra in the earlier films, but was replaced with a white actress because nobody involved with the film remembered that the role had already been cast. (Either that, or Lavender caught the same debilitating illness that turned Billy Dee Williams into Tommy Lee Jones.)

I agreed wholeheartedly that this was pretty fucked up, but having jawed on it for a few minutes, I was at least able to see the bright side, which is that in doing so, they’d prevented the Harry Potter films from accidentally joining the ignoble ranks of films where a white guy leaves his annoying minority girlfriend for a perfect white goddess (see also: Scott Pilgrim).

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I started wondering (again) just why the hell geek culture is so obsessed with race, to the point where people obsess over the fact that it’s being obsessed over. The answer I’m usually met with (since evidently I have this exact same conversation all the time) goes back to Jar Jar Binks.

I’ll just come right out and say it: I like Jar Jar. Out of all the impossibly perfect characters in The Phantom Menace, he added some much needed flaws, and well, humanity to a story that wouldn’t really grow any teeth until George Lucas decided to make the entire new trilogy an extended middle finger to the Bush administration. (I feel like this was ultimately the right way to go, but that’s a subject for a different article.)

These days, it seems like everyone just hates Jar Jar on principle, either because they thought he was annoying or hated the fact that a movie series that was meant for children intended to remain being for children. But when Phantom Menace was still new, there was a period where people were actually split on him. Kids liked him, while grown-ups hated him—kind of like how different age groups view the two trilogies today, actually, but we’re getting off-topic. Obviously, the people who hated Jar Jar couldn’t stand the idea of people not hating him as well, so they launched an all-out offensive. When just saying, “He’s annoying as fuck!” over and over somehow failed to prove their point, some of the haters stumbled on a more nuanced tactic: claiming the character was racist.

Now this was a point people were willing to bend on. After all, as the only character to show fear, and the only main cast member played/voiced by a black actor, it was easy, if somewhat reductive, to accuse Jar Jar of being the Cowardly Negro stereotype brought back to life, along with Space Jews and every other pulp sci-fi cliché that everyone but George Lucas had long since moved on from.

Jar Jar, Ruby Rhod, and the legacy of Urkel

I’ll concede that debating the ethics of modeling the Trade Federation after ruthless Asian businessmen, or discussing whether Watto was more insulting to Jews or Arabs were both conversations that were worth having, but even in the largely pre-internet days of 1999, it was hard to miss the implication that the solution that fans were proposing to keep racist stereotypes out of their Star Wars movies was… to not have any other races in Star Wars.

Jar Jar, of course, became a much more important character in the later films (with reduced screen time to go with it), but I think cutting his scenes down were to the overall detriment of the series. Admit it: a little slapstick to break up the interminable Anakin/Padme love scenes would have lightened things up considerably.

Having reached this point, I suppose one could look ahead and follow the trend of summer movies deciding that “fun” belongs only in the dictionary between “fucking” and “futile”, but I find myself drawn further back. Phantom Menace came out right at the tail end of the ‘90s, a decade I guess I’m nostalgic for if only to shove it in the face of all these people who grew up in the ‘80s and won’t let the internet hear the end of it!! …Ahem. But yeah, the ‘90s were an absolute heyday for annoying sidekicks in action movies: Chris Tucker in Rush Hour, D.L. Hughley in Inspector Gadget, Kel Mitchell in Mystery Men, Dennis Rodman in Double Team

Are you noticing a pattern here?

Now, I’m not saying that only minority actors played annoying characters back then. The films of the ‘90s had no shortage of cast members whose sole purpose seemed to be to piss off the audience as much as possible. I know this sounds counter-intuitive, but you have to remember that at the time, being “in your face” was considered the most important quality something could have. That’s why everything from the decade is objectively better than the ‘80s, and may God strike you down were it to be otherwise!

However, something I’ve noticed among geek properties, particularly action/sci-fi, is that while there are plenty of annoying characters to go around, I honestly can’t recall a single example of someone claiming an annoying character “ruined the movie” when there wasn’t a non-white actor playing the role. Maybe the half-white Rob Schneider, but anyone who watches the Stallone Judge Dredd unironically is just asking for trouble.

After considerable thought, I settled on Ground Zero of this movement being The Fifth Element. You know, that one Bruce Willis movie you remember absolutely nothing about, besides naked Milla Jovovich, and this:

Ah, yes, the horrified moans of people who try to act like The Fifth Element is some thoughtful work of high science fiction being brought down by the shoehorned-in comedy bits. It is music to my ears…

We’ve all heard the bitching about Chris Tucker as Ruby Rhod, haven’t we? How he was good for one joke, and they kept him around for the rest of the film for no reason, and how having actual identifiable human reactions to his situation got in the way of Bruce Willis looking cool while shooting things, and why the hell was black people having blonde hair a trend at time anyway, and bitch bitch bitch. I’m sorry, but The Fifth Element is not the work of art you think you remember it was. It was a better than average action-comedy that’s been getting a free pass for almost twenty years because there really wasn’t much in the way of sci-fi going on back then, and the people who saw it when they were ten needed their generation to have its own Big Trouble in Little China.

(Huh. Another sci-fi action-comedy where people complain about its allegedly annoying ethnic sidekicks. What are the odds?)

But, yeah. We’re done, right? A too-cool-for-the-room flick with nothing up its sleeves earns the ire of a generation because one of the characters basically pops out and says, “Nope, those niggling doubts aren’t just you—this movie really is just damn silly!” And from then on, mouth-breathing fuckwits react negatively to the sight of any non-white actors for fear of, “Oh noes, our nerd porn might not get taken seriously!” Pavlovian response, right? We’re done!

No, we’re not. Because this goes back farther. It returns, as all things do, to Steve Urkel.

You see, another thing that the ‘80s and ‘90s did very well, or least produced a lot of, were shows about deviant behavior. Although TV of that era is (rightly) pegged for being conformist and existing solely to reinforce the notion of the nuclear family as “correct”, it’s often overlooked just how many of these characters from the era were, by no means, average. Alex P. Keaton from Family Ties was obsessed with conservatism almost to the point of eroticism, but lived among flighty liberals. Will Smith was an inner-city youth living among upwardly mobile buppies. Fran Fine was an injection of New York City Judaism into the old money home of a Broadway producer.

Someone like Urkel was only a matter of time.

Jar Jar, Ruby Rhod, and the legacy of Urkel

Although nowadays, it’s regarded as an embarrassing misrepresentation of geek culture, at the time, Family Matters was considered a forward-thinking show, with a diverse cast of African-American characters of varying ages, interests, and levels of intelligence. Oh sure, it was considered “insulting” at the time to even suggest that black nerds existed (believe me, they were getting it from both sides on this one), but Family Matters was a breath of fresh air compared to the “black suburban family as the earthly manifestation of Jesus” vibes of The Cosby Show. Steve displayed what sociologists call “folkway violations” constantly throughout the show, and while it could and sometimes did get old, it was certainly more realistic than, say, Bill Cosby’s strict edict that no teenage boys could ever have long hair, for example.

Look, I know why Urkel gets on people’s nerves. He routinely let himself into the Winslows’ home without being invited, constantly flirted with their daughter Laura despite her having no interest in him (at least not until the final few seasons), he was often self-centered and flaunted qualities he didn’t have, was insensitive to the feelings of people around him, especially when they wanted him to leave, and frequently endangered the Winslows with his untested inventions.

I’ve seen the show. I know where you’re coming from.

It’s not like they intentionally set out to make the most grating character they could. On the one hand, the show made it clear that no matter how much the family might like Steve as a person, he annoyed the hell out of them, and they were probably better off without him. Laura, in particular, had her life disrupted by Steve, as he constantly chased off potential suitors, though he was often revealed to have done the right thing in the end. And yes, in retrospect, you probably could make the case that he essentially just sexually harassed her until she gave in, but going back and watching it play out in real time, it honestly doesn’t come off that way.

On the other hand, Steve was often portrayed as a lonely, depressed person whose own family wanted nothing to do with him, and for all his failings, he had a good heart. And most of Steve’s positive growth over the show resulted from him changing to meet everyone else’s needs, instead of both parties meeting each other halfway, so, you know, mixed messages.

I won’t lie to you, Family Matters wasn’t a great show. It came about in an age when the idea of releasing TV shows on home media was in its nascence, a cost-prohibitive process that rendered the idea of releasing every single episode of a show not only laughably unlikely, but an idea that would only appeal to rich hobbyists with no social life. As such, this was an age when sitcom writers had no guilt about reusing their scripts every three weeks or so. I actually sat down and counted this: in season four, there’s a story where Carl finally gets fed up and throws Steve out of the house for good, only to realize he actually does care about him, and we get this four separate times!

So, yes, it wasn’t that great of a show to begin with, and the fad that sprung up around Steve as a merchandising icon got old really fast.

Jar Jar, Ruby Rhod, and the legacy of Urkel

Why are we still dealing with this?

Well, if Urkel can be said to have a legacy (as the title of this article would imply), it’s that Jaleel White was the straw that finally broke the camel’s back in regards to representations of geeks in the media. Jaleel White wasn’t a “real” geek, and neither were the writers of the show, so in typical overreacting fashion, people online tend to recall this innocuous family fun-fest as a “nerd minstrel show”.

Are we starting to see how all this is fitting together? Steve Urkel kicks off, in a big way, a backlash within geekdom where shows (and their fans) have to prove that they’re “real geeks”, and if they contain anything that reminds them of Urkel, or smacks of a geek property trying to reach a broader audience, by, oh, I don’t know, recognizing certain demographic shifts, you get shrieks from fanboys about how “Hollywood’s just not taking X seriously!”

That’s the word that really galls me every time this ignorant bullshit comes up: “Seriously”. Like everyone just assumed Idris Elba was going to spend his scenes in Thor making wisecracks the whole time. Putting black people in your nerd movie is only turning it into a comedy if you judge a movie solely on the comments the trailer gets on YouTube.

As we march towards a more inclusive society, there are a whole bunch of humps we all need to get over, but within the geekosphere, there are three specific things that we need to let go of: 1) Urkel is not as offensive as you remember him being, 2) The Fifth Element was not as good as you keep telling yourself it was, and finally, 3) without Jar Jar, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan would have been stuck on Naboo and the rest of the series would have never happened!

I’m not naïve enough to think that a mediocre sitcom about a kid with Asperger’s can make someone racist, but by holding onto these seemingly innocent bugbears, we sure are making it easier for people to stay racist. Food for thought.

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  • MichaelANovelli

    Mmmm, the best part was that I got to reuse parts of a college term paper I wrote, once. :)

  • Toby Clark

    I’m very much with you on Jar Jar, and if there’s one moment that keeps me from finding him too annoying or offensive, it’s the bit where he calls out Qui-Gon for trying to claim that they’re “not in trouble yet” in a leaking, broken-down submarine surrounded by various sea monsters. He may go to pieces in a crisis, but he’s at least intelligent enough to sum up what the crisis is.

    Incidentally, the prequels were more aimed at Nixon and Vietnam than Bush and Iraq. Just that history really repeated itself.

    • MichaelANovelli

      Well, perhaps being stuck in the past is what made George so on the ball, ironically. ^_^

  • madmanoreo

    Wait, didn’t John Carpenter always consider Jack Burton to be the wacky sidekick character of Big Trouble? Like some bizzaro minstrel show. I honestly don’t think Urkel or Ruby were annoying and I’d chalk up Jar Jar to the annoying bad slapstick stuff that he was constantly doing, but I honestly can’t think of any white characters that would be on par with that except maybe Chris Evans in Fantastic Four.

    • MichaelANovelli

      Carpenter may have *intended* Burton to be the sidekick, but he was on the poster, so he gets all the glory…

      • madmanoreo

        but he literally only did one useful thing in the movie, outside of occupying mooks’ attentions

        • MichaelANovelli

          I’m with you on that one, but in the ’80s, white guys named Jack got to be the hero. Don’t ask me why.

        • Jonathan Campbell

          Eh, no- he was actually pretty proactive.

          In fact, despite what John Carpenter may have thought…no, Jack Burton was the hero. And not just because his face was on the poster.

          When Miao Yin was kidnapped by the Lords of Death street gang, it was Jack who drove the truck, Jack who was doing the actual chasing of them; Wang was just there to panic and later, to explain who all these gangs were.

          When they needed someone to infiltrate the White Tigers brothel, it was Jack who went in; Wang stayed in the car.

          When they were in that flooded elevator, it was Jack who opened the doors so they could swim to safety.

          When they were brought before old man Lo Pan, it was Jack who did most of the talking, hero to villain.

          When they were tied up and blindfolded in that chair, it was Jack who got them loose, and Jack who took on Thunder.

          And there are a bunch of other things I could probably think of, but the big one is that it was Jack who killed Lo Pan, and Jack who saved Miao Yin (Gracie more or less saved herself by snapping out of her hypnosis).

          Yes, Wang got more fight scenes and Jack was klutzy at times, but overall Jack was the most proactive. He’s a pretty standard example of an Everyman hero, finding himself embroiled in someone else’s conflict, but proving to be the one who tips the scales and yes, who does most of the work. Wang’s best feat was killing Rain and fighting (read- getting chased around by) Thunder, but Jack is the one who actually killed the main villain and interacted with him more. Jack also had had the romantic arc with Gracie, whilst Wang had to be content having an off-screen kidnapped girlfriend. Not to mention, its Jack who gets the most character development (from cowardly trucker- “Have you paid your dues? Yes sir, the check is in the mail”-; to boisterous hero- “Give me your best shot pal, I can take it”).

          If Luigi beats Bowser and saves Princess Toadstool, then Luigi was the hero; Mario was the sidekick.

      • Muthsarah

        Who IS the annoying “ethnic” character in BTiLC? Wang? What’s remotely annoying about him? Who says that, and what of Wang’s qualities could possibly be considered comparable to Jar-Jar or Urkel?

        • MichaelANovelli

          Wang was whiny and manipulative, just like Urkel. :)

          • Muthsarah

            Whiny? For warning Jack about dangers, giving him all the exposition when he asks for it (focusing only on what he – and the audience – needed to know and not getting lost in the details), steering him through the first half of the movie, and still holding his own in the second? Yeah, what a prick.

          • MichaelANovelli

            I believe my exact words were “*allegedly* annoying ethnic sidekicks”…

          • Muthsarah

            But you did call him whiny.

          • MichaelANovelli

            Well, he was.

    • Capt. Harlock

      You leave Jack Burton alone! He showed great courage!

  • I really don’t get the people who find Chris Tucker to be out of place in The Fifth Element. It’s a really silly movie. Regarding Jar-Jar, I personally find him to be the only piece of comic relief so bad that the idea of Lucas thinking he would be genuinely funny is hysterical to me. For me at least he’s the funniest part of the film (I have a lot of nostalgic love for the movie overall, although I’ll admit it’s not a great film).

    • Guest

      And I have get why so many Harry Potter fans assumed Cho Chang was a white Irish girl adopted by Chinese parents. Life’s just kinda funny, that way…

    • MichaelANovelli

      And I don’t get why so many Harry Potter fans assumed Cho Chang was a white Irish girl adopted by Chinese parents. Life’s just kinda funny, that way…

      • What is to get? They are idiots.

        • MichaelANovelli

          I sometimes think of that bit in Red Dwarf where a space station gathered people who were spectacularly wrong about everything, on the assumption that being so stupid would bring about scientific discoveries completely by accident.

          • I have seen maybe 15 minutes of “Red Dwarf” in my life because the production values look a step below Linkara, but it is sentences like that which make me want to give it a shot because I love “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” and that sounds like a throw away gag from in there.

          • MichaelANovelli

            Well, you have to understand, up until fairly recently, anything more ambitious than a sitcom was the BBC equivalent of a redheaded stepchild, budgetwise.

  • Cecil_Trachenburg

    Annoying white characters that ruined movies? (or at the very least, made them worse)

    Tommy Lee Jones – Batman Forever
    Shia Lebouff – Indiana Jones 4
    The kid – The Last Action Hero
    Sofia Coppella – Godfather 3
    Bronagh Gallagher – Pulp Fiction
    Dakata Fanning – War of the Worlds
    Brad Pitt – Inglorious Basterds (I don’t agree with this one but a lot of people hate his character)
    Oskar Schell – Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

    I hated Tucker in Fifth Element but liked him in Friday. Jar Jar was annoying but didn’t ruin the movie for me. As previously mentioned, I love Urkel. I even have Jaleel White’s autograph. I’ll take him any day over the douchebag Big Bang Theory cast.

    • MichaelANovelli

      All rightly infamous, yes, but I don’t think any of them became the lightning rods that, er, Ruby Rhod did…

    • The sociopathic son in Unbreakable.

      I always felt that lil’ Anakin was more grating than Jar Jar.

      • Cecil_Trachenburg

        Sandstorms are very dangerous. Yeah, Jake Lloyd was pretty terrible.

        • MichaelANovelli

          I always just feel kinda bad for Jake Lloyd. The internet chewed that guy up and spat him out but good!

          • Jonathan Campbell

            He also got bullied in school and harassed elsewhere after making the movie. That’s one of the main reason he gave up acting.

            Like everyone else involved in the film, his performance owes much to the direction and the script rather than any acting talent issues.

          • Cecil_Trachenburg

            I’m sure they could teach classes on acting by using examples from this film and showing how important it is to have a strong director. Just look at Portman’s flat acting in this but her Oscar winning performances in just about everything else.

          • Jonathan Campbell

            Lucas was a “strong” director- he was in total control of his movie.

            The problem was he was a strong director who wasn’t interested in the performance of his actors, but instead concerned with the special effects and technical side of things, as always. Much like Michael Bay, really.

          • Cristiona

            Well, that and the fact that he’s a pretty horrible writer who can’t do believable dialog for anything.

          • Muthsarah

            …Portman’s extremely hit-or-miss. She was pretty damn good in Leon, but couldn’t handle a single line-reading in Mars Attacks.

            She’s gotten a lot better, though, as she grew up, but she’s still very, very dependent on the quality of the source material. She’s not the type that can spin straw into gold. At all.

          • MichaelANovelli

            I think the acting in Mars Attacks was deliberately awful, though…

          • Muthsarah


            I can kinda buy that. For most characters, however, over-acting was the clear intent (I assume they were directed that way). Which actually made the under-acting come off as even more jarring.

            Jack over-acted, which is perfect, and not just for that Vegas character or to sell the movie as a general comedy, but because, by 1996, Jack was already a total caricature of himself, maybe not in every role, but certainly in pop culture, and it was delightful enough to see him playing “Jack”, even if it didn’t necessarily fit the character in-universe, as it did(n’t) with his president.

            Glenn Close also over-acted, but she had a very minor character, and she’s just too good of an actress to sit meekly at the corner of the screen and let others steal the spotlight. She had a chance to ham it up, so she hammed it up. Good for her.

            Rod Steiger. Total two-dimensional aggressive hick general send-up. Like George C. Scott in Dr. Strangelove. Very silly, it sure seemed like he was having fun.

            Danny DeVito….see everything Danny DeVito has been in. It may not be over-acting, it might just be him playing his typical Louie-de-Palma-and-everything-since-then role. He’s always funny playing a sleazy character, and here, he does it again. Easy role for him, but he’s always fun. Technically, though, it comes off as over-acting.

            Annette Benning. Very much also over-acting, even if she’s doing it as a completely different character than any of the others. A very aggressive take on a very passive type of character. Loopy flower child, but still very cartoonish.

            Martin Short. ‘Nuff said.

            Jack Black. Moving on….

            …To Pierce Brosnan and Sarah Jessica Parker. They’re a little hard to pin down. Brosnan is rather more subtle than we’re used to seeing him (he was already Bond by this point), but you still get the sense he was playing that stiff, very anti-militaristic scientist “no, violence is not the answer, these are civilized beings, perhaps more than ourselves” role to the nines. Parker played the superficial airhead, but still cartoonishly. Still counts as overacting, even if they played it especially subtlely.

            Tom Jones. Not overacting exactly, but any fun performance you get out of a non-actor is gold. I loved him in his small role.

            Jim Brown and Pam Grier. They played it straight all the way through, but I believed them.

            Which leaves Natalie Portman and….was that Jason London? Lemme check….

            Lukas Haas…maybe??? Never heard of him. Anyway, two pretty-looking teenagers. Acting stiff as a board. Didn’t pick up on that being a joke. Just felt….stiff. And since no-one else in the movie was coming off that way, I find it a bit of a stretch to assume they were supposed to do that. Maybe they didn’t understand their characters and just filmed their few scenes and skeddadled. Or maybe their lines were just awful (that last scene certainly felt that way).

            Gotta stick with my initial assumption, overall. I can buy that Mars Attacks was supposed to have good actors acting “badly”. But most weren’t acting THAT kind of badly.

    • Zorha

      Doest Rob Schneider as Herman Ferguson in Judge Dread (1995) make your list?

      • MichaelANovelli

        I mentioned him in the article. Schneider is actually half-white, half-Filipino.

      • He is actually half Filipino, so he may be considered an ethnic sidekick. Even though I only found out about his Asian ethnicity a year ago and I am 29, his race has not been a factor in his casting… ever?

        • MichaelANovelli

          He’s played Asian characters before. However, I think there are things people hate about Judge Dredd that go FAR beyond his part…

          • Cecil_Trachenburg

            While Dredd is vastly superior to Judge Dredd, I think the nitpicking the 95 version gets is unwarranted.

          • MichaelANovelli

            I think the main issue is that Judge Dredd was basically just Demolition Man without Sandra Bullock, and without Sandra Bullock, what’s the point?

          • Cecil_Trachenburg

            she was adorable in that

          • MichaelANovelli

            Like Cameron Diaz in Charlie’s Angels. :)

          • Muthsarah

            Demolition Man was an intentional comedy that still delivered pretty good action. Judge Dredd was, at best, an unintentional comedy (the comic relief especially was NOT the main source of humor) that delivered rather bland action.

            EDIT: And pissed off the fanboys.

        • Cecil_Trachenburg

          I didn’t know that!

      • Cecil_Trachenburg

        believe it or not, no. I didn’t mind him in Judge Dredd but I’m one of those weirdos that actually likes the guy.

        • MichaelANovelli

          I like him too, generally, but his recent work has just been too bitter for my tastes. :(

          • Cecil_Trachenburg

            The Chosen One was surprisingly touching.

    • I have no problem with Mutt as a character in “Indiana Jones 4”. The movie’s issues go very deep and Shia Lebouff as a person has earned a lot of ire in real life which colors the character. Even his role in the story is fine, Indy worked with his dad in the third movie, having him be the dad in the 4th makes sense as a turn of the narrative. Really Kate Capshaw in “Temple of Doom” is more annoying (though my Mom likes her as a needed bit of comic relief from the horrifying images).

      How about Harry Connick Jr. in “Independence Day” with his bullshit buddy-sidekick relationship with Will Smith?

      • Cecil_Trachenburg

        I didn’t have any ill will towards Lebouff, I actually really liked him as an actor. (back then anyway, he’s kind of become an idiot) I had been watching him on Even Stevens and was happy for him to be making it into some huge mainstream movies. I though he was very good in Constantine!

        However, his character in Indy 4 was just awful. He was an annoying, pompous asshole that they were totally grooming to take over the mantle until Spielburg felt the heat of the fans ire. it just felt like they were trying too hard to make him this tough guy hero, when really he was just a prick.

        Kate Capshaw didn’t bother me as much in Doom. She was whiny but I don’t know, she never took me out of the film.

        • Cristiona

          Oh, Kate was fine in Doom. Sure, she came across as a whiny, spoiled prima dona, but that’s what the -character- was. I mean, she was a sheltered lounge singer; what do people expect?

          All I know is, if it had been me, Indy would have been paste. There’s no way I’d stick my arm in that bug-filled recess.

    • Alexa

      Why would people bitch about Bronagh Gallagher in Pulp Fiction, she was barely in it and barely said anything, and all she did was smoke pot in the background. But I liked Tucker in Fifth Element, he just worked for me I guess, but Jar Jar he’s just annoying, nothing more. I thought he was funny when I was a kid, but now, don’t really care for him…

      • MichaelANovelli

        Yeah, I didn’t get that one, either…

      • Cecil_Trachenburg

        Hence why I added the “or made them worse” part. She didn’t ruin the movie but she is definitely the weak link. Even though she is in a small part her whole “chopper” segment makes me cringe in an otherwise amazing movie.

        I know a lot of people liked Rhod, as was evident by the row of people behind me in the theater that were laughing so hard they nearly stopped breathing. For me, he was horrendous.

        • Alexa

          Don’t you mean Maria de Medeiros, aka Butch’s girlfriend, Fabienne? I think that’s who you are referring to, because again all Bronagh Gallagher did was talk piercings with Roseanna Arquette and smoked pot in the background.

          • Cecil_Trachenburg

            doh! You’re right I had the wrong name.

          • Alexa

            Yeah, and she wasn’t that bad IMO, but she did fit the whole she’s just there to create conflict. Still I thought she and Butch made for an interesting and kind of cute movie couple. I always wondered how they met *shrugs* =)

  • RockyDmoney

    3) without Jar Jar, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan would have been stuck on Naboo and the rest of the series would have never happened

    Wait is this supposed to be a bad thing?

    • MichaelANovelli

      It’d be one hell of a continuity error, unless Obi-Wan just happens to be a common first name. LOL

  • Murry Chang

    I didn’t really have a problem with Jar Jar because there were so many other horrible things about TPM that Jar Jar just kind slid into the background. I’d trade the whole boring, annoying pod race scene for more Jar Jar.

    I do feel like I’m the only person in GenX that unironically likes The Fifth Element and thinks Ruby Rhod is a funny character…

    • MichaelANovelli

      I think Ruby Rhod was awesome, myself, but sadly I’m too young to be part of Gen X.

      • Murry Chang

        I’ll give you an upvote anyhow:)

        • MichaelANovelli

          Huzzah! ^_^

  • fearfanforever

    You say ‘without Jar-Jar the rest of the series would never have happened’ like it’s a BAD thing…

    • MichaelANovelli

      But…then we wouldn’t have Yoda using a lightsaber, or R2D2’s awesome rocket boots, or any of the other iconic sword-fighty, gun-shooty action that made the prequels the second-best trilogy in sci-fi history… :(

      • Wah? Huh?

      • Muthsarah

        The Prequels wouldn’t beat out a trilogy of Alien 3, Alien: Resurrection and Alien vs. Predator. Or even the three TNG films that nobody likes.

        • MichaelANovelli

          Hey, I think we can all agree that THE sci-fi trilogy is Back To The Future. ^_^

          • Muthsarah

            Well….yeah. Part II isn’t that great (still pretty good for a sequel), but I and III are wonderful. That’s a fantastic trilogy.

          • MichaelANovelli

            Verily! And what makes BTTF so great (and what I feel was missing from the original Star Wars) was that it was about PEOPLE. It was a true successor to the innovations of the 20th century fantasy boom of the 40’s!

          • Muthsarah

            My favorite part of II is the “I think he took his wallet” guy. He says that four times in five minutes. It’s ****ing charming.

          • MichaelANovelli

            Yes. And “Earth Angel” gets me every time!

          • Muthsarah

            Was Crispin Glover a fluke casting? I can’t imagine anyone else playing that character, or even how a Gloverless George coulda worked as anything other than an annoying stereotype.

          • MichaelANovelli

            It was density!

          • Toby Clark

            I vastly prefer Part II to III, partly because the latter breaks my suspension of disbelief with the time train, partly because the former seems rather rather more ambitious as a time travel movie, by revisiting the events of the first movie from another angle.

          • MichaelANovelli

            For a long time, BTTF 1 was my least-favorite. I appreciate it much more as an adult.

          • Muthsarah

            I prefer how III takes the silly premise of the series so seriously, as good old-fashioned sci-fi tended to do. There may be gaps in logic, but it doesn’t play it up. It’s earnest. The first half of II was a farce, which jarred terribly with the sweetness invested in the revisted scenes from I (or rather, that I (one) invested in its scenes). It was too jumbled. III was pure time-travel fantasy; it loved the era it was making its latest sandbox, and you could especially feel Doc’s joy at just being there.

          • Honestly, having re watched them recently… You may be totally right. The first one fits together like Swiss clockwork, and the other two work so well together as to make up for the amending they did to the characters.

          • MichaelANovelli

            Say what you like, I don’t mind…but you have to promise me we’ll be back! In! Time! ^_^

          • Muthsarah


          • MichaelANovelli

            I try.

        • CaptainCalvinCat

          So nobody liked “Generations”, “Insurrection” and “Nemesis”?
          Dayum, I never knew my name was “Nobdy”. ^^ Because – to be honest – while I didn’t like the ending of Generations, I thought, that it was still a decent movie. Same with Insurrection – because to me, THIS movie is something, that could’ve been a TNG episode and to me, THAT’s it, what makes the movie great.

          And I have no qualms with “Nemesis” – I really liked it.

          I watched the Prequel being 17 on Video and thought “Mhm…. decent film. It introduces the characters, shows us the first step of the new trilogy, we learn who Anakin Skywalker was before he turned Darth Vader… yeah, not great, but decent.”

          I mean – I kinda get WHY people would really hate the new trilogy. It has nothing to do with the fact, that the movies were bad or not good or just decent – it has something to do with Darth Vader.

          See, in the old trilogy, DV was the bad guy, we knew nothing about him, he was a dark figure, a boogeyman. He was tall, dark, mighty, nearly unstoppable, had the force on his side and was SO big, that Luke Skywalker – our hero – needed to train, to grow as a person, in order to kick Vaders ass.
          And then Vader cut off his hand, because Luke went in their without being prepared enough.

          And then the big reveal: He – the guy, who cut of Lukes hand, the guy, who was ready to kick his ass, was the Dad of the good guy.

          And yet, there was this area of mystery about him – why did he turn into the bad guy?

          And in the new trilogy we get this answer. That this would be very underwelming, is clear.

          • Jonathan Campbell

            The trilogy was actually quite popular when it came out- no matter how many try and deny it.

            No, I don’t think it was telling Vader’s origin story that was the problem. The acting was off (the actors often get blamed, but in reality George Lucas was at fault- he didn’t CARE about the acting, so scenes were often wrapped up after one or two shots); the politics bored people (I personally didn’t mind it much, but the CN series certainly did it better); too much CGI (maybe more a personal beef since RotS is easily the most popular and yet has the most CGI by far, but it was still a complaint), it raised continuity issues (like the droids being so close to Anakin and Obi-Wan all those years, yet it never coming up in the OT)….

            Mostly I think people didn’t like the characters, which ties back into the actors (direction) but also into the writing (oh yeah- people hated the writing; even in the original series, the cast thought Lucas couldn’t write convincing dialogue to save his life). I don’t think anybody minded seeing Anakin fall to the Dark Side, but they found him to be whiny and annoying rather than a badass fallen hero seduced by evil; in particular, the romance between Anakin and Padme drove people up the wall, because they thought it seemed very bland and fake.

            I don’t mind the Prequel trilogy- and I’m pretty sure many Millenial kids prefer it to the OT- but I do have issues with it.

            I didn’t mind those Star Trek films either, but nor do I think they were anything exceptional. With regards to Nemesis, that had a lot left on the cutting room floor, and it shows; plus, the director was a newbie to the franchise (to the annoyance of Jonathan Frakes, who wanted to direct but was refused) and the script could have been better (BRING BACK LORE, DAMMIT!), but I found it….okay.

          • MichaelANovelli

            Honestly, I’d say the best Next Generation movie was First Contact. It was really the only one that stood on its own merits, rather than being part of a larger whole.

          • Toby Clark

            Star Trek: First Contact is my favourite movie of all time.

          • Muthsarah

            Are we still THAT sensitive to hyperbole? On the Internet?

            Truth be told, I like Generations and Insurrection better than First Contact, for the sole reason that they at least feel like Trek (if decidedly sub-par Trek), whereas FC seems to be the franchise’s first step in running AWAY from what made the TV series good in favor of making a big, dumb action movie (and a decidedly sub-par big, dumb action movie) for people who don’t even like what makes Trek Trek. But I don’t deny that I’m in a tiny, tiny minority. Among TNG fans and casuals alike, First Contact is WIDELY held as the best, and you’d be hard-pressed to find enough fans of the others to pack into a single theater.

            I wasn’t anticipating a Trek discussion here, and I’m trying to moderate myself on this topic, so I’ll just stop there.

            Darth Vader isn’t a major problem with the Prequels, I think. He doesn’t even show up until the last movie (for the record, I think Anakin does sorta kinda turn into him slowly, but still isn’t too far there by the end of AotC). You could totally have replaced Anakin in TPM with some totally invented kid, and it would be the same horrible movie from beginning to end. You coulda spared Qui Gon and had him be the Obi Wan character in AotC and have Obi Wan be the Anakin, and most of the story (Palpatine’s plot, the investigation of Geonosis, the final battle) would still be the same.

            Personally, the idea of Obi Wan falling in love and being torn by his responsibilities versus his passions woulda been ten times more interesting than what we got. Aside from having a far better actor at the movie’s emotional center, it would be a lot more interesting and more original to watch a grown man who felt he was well beyond temptation become torn by an unwanted infatuation, rather than just watch a horny adolescent boy act like a horny adolescent boy. And Padme would have fallen in love with an intelligent, sensitive, utterly heroic knight-figure, instead of with a obviously emotionally unstable twenty-year-old that she knew when he was six; that woulda felt a whole lot less contrived (and icky). All the same, make that romance/temptation angle into a subplot, find another way to introduce Anakin, and tie the plots together by making Obi Wan’s conflict distract him from his responsibility to teach Anakin and protect him from the Emperor’s own seduction. Just as Obi Wan would be (in one way) seduced by lust and longing for Padme, Anakin can be (in a very different way) torn and seduced by a lust and longing for power. In this scenario, Obi Wan (as he said in Ep. IV) would have been the one to fail Anakin, and with him, the Republic, with unspeakable consequences that would haunt him the rest of his life, and not the entire Jedi Order screwing up.

            By the time Anakin started to turn into Vader, the trilogy was far beyond redemption. Nothing else worked in the films, so even getting Vader right wouldn’t have salvaged it. If the central point of the trilogy was “Anakin starts out as a nice young kid, but becomes seduced by the Dark Side”, it completely failed to sell that point. Instead, Anakin is a bland wunderkind, and then IMMEDIATELY becomes a crazy, whiny teenager, and then he just stays that way, all because of the most tone-deaf, artificial romance I’ve ever seen on-screen, as well as the mad co-incidence of every Jedi being a complete ****ing idiot and doing absolutely nothing sensible about approaching the obviously-evil Palpatine.

          • Jonathan Campbell

            In-universe, Palpatine was not “obviously evil”. Ian McDiarmid is an excellent actor and he totally sold the genial old man routine; by far, he gave the best performance in the prequel movies (and he was great and iconic in Jedi as well).

            Also you seem to think that Padme falling for Anakin is creepy since they met when she was 14 and he was 10 (not 6- don’t be hyperbolic), but push for her to fall for Obi-Wan, who she met when she was 14 and he was in his twenties: not exactly a huge improvement.

            Besides, Obi-Wan and Satine from the CGI series is ten times better than him falling for Padme…which would only be narratively confusing since Padme exists to be the mother of Leia and Luke, but I digress.

            The reason it didn’t come off was that George Lucas didn’t care about the performances of his actors and the writing sucked; it wasn’t to do with the actors.

            I think a better idea might have been to avoid The Phantom Menace altogether and have Attack of the Clones be the first movie (but, you know, better), so that Episode II could have been a film dropped right in the heart of the Clone Wars. That way we get introduced to Anakin as a teenage Jedi and intergalactic war could have been the catalyst for his fall to the Dark Side (as it sort-of was in the series and EU), while we got other interesting stuff. The time skip between Episode 1 and 2 is part of the reason it failed to sell Anakin since no, he didn’t “IMMEDIATELY” become a crazy, whiny teenager; rather there was 8 years between the first two movies so we basically skipped 8 years of character development. Episode 1 only existed to introduce the characters, but most of its plotlines could have been dropped. Attack of the Clones could have worked fine without any reference to it with only minor modifications to the story.

          • MichaelANovelli

            I really liked the film noir aspects of Episode II. If the trilogy had more of that, I think it might have been stronger. :)

          • Muthsarah

            I think the film – even without my other revisions – would have been immeasurably improved had Obi Wan been the central character. It would have been bland and awkward, but at least he would have been the audience viewpoint character and emotional surrogate. Emotionless is still more identifiable than tone deaf.

            Basically, it would have been a dumb action movie, instead of a dumb action/romance. It’s often said that there’s nothing worse than a bad comedy, but a bad romance is just as insufferable.

            EDIT: Rah rah, ah ah ah….

          • Muthsarah

            EDIT: “In-universe, Palpatine was not “obviously evil”. Ian McDiarmid is an excellent actor and he totally sold the genial old man routine; by far, he gave the best performance in the prequel movies (and he was great and iconic in Jedi as well).”

            Ummm…how about the obviously-evil way he was acting in front of Anakin at the opera-or-whatever scene? Or how the Jedi Council already KNEW he was probably a Sith Lord at the start of the movie? Or how he assumed emergency powers in the Senate AFTER his Sith form had been revealed? I don’t know what Sith are supposed to look like (Dooku looked normal, but so did Palpatine….once), but was it not worth explaining how that dramatic physical change went unquestioned?

            – No, no, no, the Chancellor is fine. He just had his face electrocuted so badly he changed species.
            – Soo….wouldn’t that have scrambled his brain along with the rest of his head? Are you sure he can think straight? Should we really be putting him in charge of a war effort?
            – ……Racist.

            “Also you seem to think that Padme falling for Anakin is creepy since
            they met when she was 14 and he was 10 (not 6- don’t be hyperbolic), but
            push for her to fall for Obi-Wan, who she met when she was 14 and he
            was in his twenties: not exactly a huge improvement.”

            He was supposed to be 10? Good God, fifteen years later, and I seriously didn’t know that. He comes off as far younger.

            As for 14 and twenty-something…yes, it seems completely plausible and immediately understandable for a 14-year-old girl (especially a sheltered one having had to live very much like an adult) to develop a crush on a handsome, heroic twenty-something man (and a possible celebrity after his actions in saving her planet), and to nurture this crush over several years until they meet again when she’s an adult with far more independence than she had when they first met. It’s light-years more plausible than believing Padme could fall in love with the whining, shouting, obsessive, power-craving Anakin we got.

            “The time skip between Episode 1 and 2 is part of the reason it failed to
            sell Anakin since no, he didn’t “IMMEDIATELY” become a crazy, whiny
            teenager; rather there was 8 years between the first two movies so we
            basically skipped 8 years of character development.”

            Hence, immediately. TPM ends with him as a cute kid who misses his mommy but will go with the nice man and become the most “wizard” Jedi ever, and AotC starts with him already obsessed with Padme, despite having been so long out-of-touch with her that she literally didn’t recognize him at first glance. To us, that is as sudden as a character can evolve short of it all happening after a single side-wipe. Whether it was eight years of off-screen progression or four or twenty. It’s the same amount of exposure to his character.

            And yeah, TPM was entirely disposable, but AotC was also broken from the very beginning. We knew that the Anakin in the elevator scene was the same Anakin from before, but the off-screen development was jarring and felt completely contrived to start off the second movie’s romance running, even if we still hadn’t gotten used to the idea of Anakin not being a small child. Child to obsessive suitor in – maybe literally – less than sixty seconds of screentime. Had he only become (re-)smitten with Padme upon seeing her again, instead of it being implied he’d been obsessed with her (and without any of the Jedi picking up on it and/or deciding to maybe keep him away from the pretty lady), that kinda woulda worked.

            Well…not with the rest of the script, but you know.

          • Jonathan Campbell

            I’ll ignore most of this (too, too much and its all about what direction you’d take the story in) but with regards to Palpatine…

            You really don’t remember the story.

            The only person present for the Opera scene was Anakin, who had long since considered Palpatine a friend and was increasingly sceptical about the Jedi, not to mention emotionally turbulent and fearing that his wife was going to die. Palpatine was acting more sinister than usual in that scene, but the only Jedi who could have noticed was an angsty twenty-something he’d been playing like a violin for the last decade and a half who was in the middle of a personal crisis….It was fine.
            The other stuff…you just don’t remember the order things played out in.

            No, the Jedi did not know that he was a Sith Lord at the start of the movie. They were suspicious of him because he was still in power after his legal term of office had expired, and because he had started to interfere in Jedi affairs, but since he had emergency powers and they were in the middle of a war they sure how cynical to be about this. They did not think he was a Sith, though the novelisation reveals that some were thinking he might have been a puppet of the Sith- regardless, they had no proof.

            Palpatine had emergency powers after the end of Episode II (Jar-Jar was the one who proposed it in the Senate after Palpatine manipulated him); the scene you are thinking of is Palpatine declaring the Republic is now an empire in the name of keeping the peace. By that point, the Jedi had ALREADY moved against him- the reason his face is like that is because of the scars he got fighting Mace Windu, and yes he explains it to the Senate (though the novel implies that its actually his real face and his Chancellor one was a mask…but this is probably not true). By this stage Palpatine had already killed the Jedi Masters who came to arrest him (after Anakin told them he was a Sith Lord) and Palpatine had ordered the execution of Order 66, the command for Vader and the Clone Troopers to purge the Jedi.

            The Jedi didn’t know he was a Sith until it was too late; the moment they realised and acted against them, he killed them. That’s it.

      • Murry Chang

        Yoda using a lightsaber is a travesty in my mind. In the EU, Force users of his level were far beyond having to use things like lightsabers, which makes sense. Then again the EU had a lot of great ideas that were tossed out the window, like the Clone Masters and a non stupid origin for Boba Fett.

        • MichaelANovelli

          But, weren’t the EU stories always non-canon?

          • Jonathan Campbell

            Technically yes.

            But, its generally agreed that there was a lot in there that was really good (and a lot else that really….wasn’t) and that it sucks that George Lucas didn’t give a damn about it.

            Until these sequels came along, the EU WAS the continuation of the Star Wars-verse, and it was generally thought of as pretty good (even if it clearly had a LOT of problems) and introduced many, many awesome characters and worlds. Mostly though fans are just frustrated that an EU that developed so well and followed a roughly coherent and engaging narrative is being dismissed. Plus, some of the stuff the EU did before George Lucas was thought to be better than what canonically happened.

          • MichaelANovelli

            Like the giant green bunny rabbit?

          • Jonathan Campbell



          • Murry Chang
          • Jonathan Campbell


            Never knew about that character.

            In that case….well, no, actually, Mr Mendo, NOT the giant green bunny rabbit.

            Because the giant green bunny rabbit looks like an abominable rip-off of Captain Bucky O’Hare and he will NEVER be better than he was.

            (damn EU messin’ with my childhood…)

          • Murry Chang

            There’s a horse headed one too. Not EVERYTHING in the EU was a great idea;)

          • MichaelANovelli

            Lemme guess, he could in L-shapes only?

          • MichaelANovelli

            Weren’t those Jaxxon comics from the 70’s, though?

          • Jonathan Campbell

            Then they have a time-machine.

            Bucky is better. Don’t even need to read it.

            (“BUCKY! Captain Bucky O’Hare! He goes where no ordinary rabbit would dare…”)

          • MichaelANovelli

            I remember that show.

            I think the show’s creator once said that the show’s fans know more about it than he does. Which may explain why that game sucked so hard…

          • Murry Chang

            EU stories were always canon unless they were supplanted by the movies or Lucas statements. Lucas had personal approval over the 90’s EU, making most of it canon in general…not counting the Dark Horse comics anyhow.

          • MichaelANovelli

            So, *now* they’re non-canon?

          • Murry Chang

            With the Disney announcement a couple months back they’re non-canon, though Disney is free to use any of it if they want…plus a lot of it was contradicted by the prequel trilogy.

          • MichaelANovelli

            ………This is turning into one of those Talmud vs. Kabbalah things, isn’t it?

          • Murry Chang

            Red String and all yeah lol

            Really I got over it years ago and I’m actually excited for new movies that aren’t Lucas brain farts:)

          • MichaelANovelli

            And maybe they could fit David Bowie in, somehow? :)

          • Murry Chang

            I could dig that!

          • MichaelANovelli

            Because you have a soul! :)

        • Jonathan Campbell

          Yoda using a lightsaber was AWESOME in MY mind.

          Yes, he’s capable of much, much more- but that shouldn’t mean he CAN’T play the swordmaster card, nor that he would never, ever need one. Force users of his level should be capable of mastering both.

          EU…honestly, I think the absurd Force- power levels in the EU is one thing the films were better off leaving out. It got quite ridiculous at times.

          • Murry Chang

            Eh, him jumping around like a bad CG muppet on Ritalin just wasn’t my cup o tea.

  • Moppet

    Prequels and opinions on those aside, I still like the Fifth Element, Tucker included. I say like, but I can’t imagine myself ever holding it up on a pedestal or anything like that despite the like. There was a great train of Bruce Willis movies that forgot he had a sense of humor when they decided he was action guy instead of what he worked as (for me), an normalish guy with enough of a sense of humor to make sarcastic commentary. I don’t think the Fifth Element really let him go be as funny as he could be, but combined with everything else the ‘comedy’ side of that action comedy really worked for me, and I actually can’t see it working as well without Tucker’s character because the over the top contrasted against the deadpan still makes me grin.

    I never really watched Family Matters. The few episodes I watched never really struck me as terrible, nor any of the characters – Urkel included.

    I was never sure about Idris in Thor, not really, but it wasn’t because I thought he’d turn it into a comedy (though I think both Thor movies have good comedy in them, and I rather like good comedy in the midst of my movie). My issue was that I really wanted someone to let him play the John Stewart Green Lantern. That would have just plain made my day. I think he’d be a fantastic Green Lantern. As is, the part he played in Thor, my biggest issue with it? He feels wasted. He’s a great actor and the character just never gets as much to do that shows that off. With the Dark World I was glad they finally gave him ‘something’ but it just wasn’t enough.

    I’ll keep my fingers crossed for that green lantern thing and be horribly disappointed in the long run as a result.

    • MichaelANovelli

      Well, Kenneth Branagh likes to cast his minor parts with as much gravitas as possible. You should see his version of Hamlet, some time…

      • Moppet

        I haven’t ever seen it, so, you’re probably right, I should give it a go some time. Thanks for the article.

        • MichaelANovelli

          If nothing else, you get to see Billy Crystal doing Shakespeare! :)

          • Lucithana

            It was indeed glorious! I was the only one in the theater I saw it in who didn’t step out during the intermission because I was so amped for more. And his Much Ado About Nothing had Micheal Keaton as the BEST comic relief. Which seems unrelated, but I didn’t remember until halfway through that last sentence it was Keaton and not Crystal in the latter movie. >.>

          • MichaelANovelli

            Hey, we love Michael Keaton around these parts! In Jackie Brown, he had a leather jacket! :)

          • Muthsarah

            YES we do! His Dogberry was glorious. Full disclosure: Much Ado About Nothing (Branaugh) was my introduction to Shakespeare. And, aside from the pretty villa and the nice costumes, the only thing I remembered from that first viewing (seriously, who takes a six-year-old to a Shakespeare film?) was Michael Keaton’s Dogberry. I friggin’ loved that guy. He had me rolling, even if most of the rest of the movie had me confused.

            Years later, I saw it again. And I immediately loved the rest of this wonderful movie. But Keaton….yeah…still my favorite part.

            EDIT: And I’ve frequently (including earlier tonight) gone on the record as HATING comic relief. But this movie, this role (and, FWIW, Cap’n Tightpants in the recent adaptation too), it just works. Rare though it is, comic relief can occasionally work. Take notes.

          • MichaelANovelli

            Man, I wish Keaton made more movies…

          • Muthsarah

            …I feel like crying now. There is literally no other response possible. The Keaton will not grant us more appearences. I don’t know why. The Keaton is great. The Keaton is love.

            But the Keaton refuses to change….

            EDIT: Wait! But the Keaton is in Birdman. Brad mentioned that movie earlier today. Or yesterday. I dunno, I’ve been working a lot lately. Maybe that’s something. Not that I know. But if the Keaton is in it, it’s worth a watch.

            EDIT AGAIN: Holy $#!+, he’s on the poster. With a bird on his head. I’ma see this. I’ma see this first day!

          • MichaelANovelli

            Well, I just looked it up. He has a new movie coming out this year!

          • Muthsarah

            Birdman! Biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiirdmaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!!!

            EDIT: From Wiki:

            “Birdman was released to acclaim from critics. Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a 94% rating, based on 17 reviews, with an average score of 7.8/10.[11] Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, gave it an average score of 90, based on 11 reviews, indicating “universal acclaim”.[12]”


          • MichaelANovelli

            Truly, it will be a cavalcade of thrills!

          • Muthsarah

            I haven’t seen a movie in the theatres since Sin City 2. Which I liked. Screw you, 56% of critics. I’m excited to see a new movie. And…honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Michael Keaton on the big screen. I hadn’t seen Arnold Schwarzenegger in the cinemas until Escape Plan (good 90s-style action movie, BTW), and I was grinning stupidly, helplessly, once he showed up. Just seeing Keaton on the big screen…..ohh…..Im’a like it.. I know that already.

          • MichaelANovelli

            Yeah, Sin City 2 was pretty solid, overall.

          • Muthsarah

            Where’s your snobbish anti-establishment review in support of THAT film, Mendo?

            And nothing on Escape Plan? I R surprised.

            Oh, and BTW, I realize I totally contradicted myself above. I saw Keaton in Much Ado. 2….1(?) years ago. So I guess that counts. But that’s a lifetime away. Damn, that’s a long time ago. Like the first time I saw Lion King. Or Star Trek: Generations. Was I ever that young?

          • MichaelANovelli

            It doesn’t connect in any meaningful way to ABC’s TGIF line-up…

          • Muthsarah

            Hmm…maybe I’m catching a glimpse at the heart of the Mendo? Less Schwarzenegger, more Step By Step.

          • MichaelANovelli

            Oh, there’s room for all of it, because my heart is a house for love, as The Five Heartbeats would say.

            BTW, I watched Step By Step every week and for the life of me, I couldn’t tell you any of the characters’ names…

          • Kevin

            Well he did mention Lion King which has JTT who was in Home Improvement which was on ABC’s TGIF line-up.

        • It is 4 hours long, and even the tiny parts have stars in the role.
          For instance, Richard Attenborough plays an unnamed English Ambassador.

          • MichaelANovelli

            And it is GLORIOUS!

          • 4… hours… I get tired saying it.

          • MichaelANovelli

            That’s only half as long as the LOTR trilogy.

          • I don’t think I have seen the uncut versions of that all the way thru in 5-10 years.

          • MichaelANovelli

            Well, don’t be too scared to check it out. I think everyone should see it at least once.

          • Muthsarah

            It’s really pretty too, but more than a little exhausting. It’s the kind of movie home video is perfect for. I can’t imagine watching something like that in the theatres.

            And, yes, anyone with even a passing interest in Shakespeare should see it.

          • MichaelANovelli

            I hear ya. I would be afraid to go out for more popcorn…

          • T. Morrissey

            And about 1/10th the quality.

          • MichaelANovelli

            Oh, sure, Hamlet may not have any dragon battles, but it does have a kick-ass sword fight that ends with a guy getting a chandelier dropped on him! ^_^

          • Muthsarah

            I’m getting whiplash here from all your veering between bat$#!+ and perfectly reasonable remarks. You’re all over the road, Novelli.

          • MichaelANovelli

            What can I say? The Phantom Menace live up to the exactly two years of hype I was exposed to beforehand. :)

          • Welcome to the Agony Booth. It used to be punishingly long analysis of movies and TV, now it is mostly blogs of digestible length and well reasoned videos about genre fiction and gender politics.

          • Muthsarah

            Yeah, I’m well steeped in this site’s peculiarities. Well, most of them. I fear I’ll never understand Mendo.

          • MichaelANovelli

            One of my exes used to describe me as a “Medicine Man” so you’re not alone. ^_^

  • I like Jar Jar. He is as funny as any other character in the series. Silly? YES. But I do not understand the hate. I do wish he grew more in the movies (the cartoon shows how he can be used effectively) but I just do not have a problem with him the way everyone else does.

    • MichaelANovelli

      Well, I guess some people just don’t like the idea of movies about people sword fighting in outer space being fun…

      • I like “Krull” and “Flash Gordon” unironically, so I might be in the extreme minority of liking fun.

        • MichaelANovelli

          Some people think fun is the enemy, but now I’m just thinking of Uncle Jam Wants You! LOL “We’re on a mission to rescue dance music from the blahs!”

      • Muthsarah

        The sword fights in the Prequels were uniformly terrible, over-choreographed, cartoonish, blurry messes bereft of drama, and most of them don’t even advance the plot. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, and I’m not trying to change your mind about anything. Just stating because it always needs to be said.

        • MichaelANovelli

          Well, most of the sword fights in the original basically looked like the ones in the Monkey Island games. I love Monkey Island, now, but it’s not the most cinematic game ever. :)

          • Muthsarah

            Standards of the time count for something. The SFX in Phantom Menace and AotC are terrible by today’s standards, but I’m not gonna nitpick those films for that. I certainly have the luxury of bypassing them and focusing on bigger issues. For the 70s and 80s, the OT’s fights were just fine, they used the lightsabers sparingly, and the fights always meant something and led directly to some significant plot development. And you could see what was going on.

  • Cameron Vale

    Jar Jar would have functioned well enough as a comic relief character, if there had been any tension to provide comic relief from. My theory is that the people who railed against him were fans who felt personally shamed by the vacuous, gaudy, anemic mess that was the prequel trilogy, and mollified themselves by pretending that Jar Jar was the sole cause.

    • MichaelANovelli

      That’s entirely possible!

  • Guest
    • MichaelANovelli

      A conversation piece intended to stimulate a re-examining deeply held nerd-rage targets in the context of the film industry’s historical problems with race?


    Maybe I’ve been overexposed to the in-house styles of Cracked.com and Jezebel but I’d say Mr. Mendo can write and he does have an original voice and something interesting to say.

    Glad I’m not the only one to get sick of this surge in 80s nostalgia. Since the baby-boomers are now retreating in retirement homes and people a little older than me are taking their places I guess this was kind of evitable

    I’m trying to think of a white comic relief just as irritating as everyone says Chris Tucker was in the Fifth Element, (a harmless and fun film but nobody’s intellectual treat).

    Okay how about Paulie Shore in Bio-Dome? Nah doesn’t count, he’s the leading man.

    Rob Schneider in Judge Dredd? Well he’s the comic relief sidekick but that whole movie stank, he didn’t ruin it.

    Hmm I’ve gotta think this one over, funny how I never notice this before. Thanks Mr. Mendo for pointing it out.

    • MichaelANovelli

      Well, thank you kindly. :)

      The thing about stuff like all this is that I don’t think people do it intentionally, but they should keep an eye out for it.

  • T. Morrissey

    This is some of the dumbest shit I’ve ever read. It sounds like all the stuff crashing about in your head finally broke something.

    I really don’t like the overused term “pseudo-intellectual,” but this really applies.

    The praise of the Phantom Menace is so preposterous that it feels like trolling. In no way are they (intentionally, anyway) critical of the Bush administration. Lucas is too milquetoast and bland to even attempt something like that.

    Also, it’s a shaky argument to still claim the movies are a political critique, but also for children.

    Last, the dime-store psychology behind people hating Jar-Jar is absurd. Suggesting they concocted the “racist” argument out of frothing frustration that not everyone agreed with them is just a smug way of dismissing the criticism. “Annoying as fuck” is entirely valid (not to mention accurate). He’s too loud, too silly and ultimately unnecessary. Humour is fine, but slapstick is a dangerous realm and it doesn’t work in Star Wars. You excuse the awful slapstick because it’s a counterpoint to the incredibly boring love scenes (even though there’s very little Jar-Jar in the movies that have the love scenes, so that makes no sense), but that doesn’t fly either. You could just as easily argue we needed all the stiff, overly serious performances to balance out Jar-Jar’s nonsense.

    I had to stop reading after that. This whole argument is such half-baked bullshit that I was forced to give up after my eyes got a headache and my brain started to break.

    • MichaelANovelli

      Vaguely charismatic white-haired leader used the threat of insurrection to get people to voluntarily give up their liberties in a sequence of events that leads to catastrophic destruction. That didn’t ring any bells?

      • Jonathan Campbell

        Palaptine is based on Nixon, Hitler and others, not Bush.

        Phantom Menace came out in 1999; Attack of the Clones in 2002 (so much of the work was probably done before or shortly after 9/11) and the basic story was mapped out by then already, possibly had been for many years. Parallels to Bush are add-ons at best, coincidence at worst.

        I’m not quite sure how Palpatine’s rise to power was influenced that much by George W. Its hard to see it playing out much different from the way it did even without him in the picture.

        • guest

          I think the basic story for the Emperor was in some way decided even further back — in the original trilogy. I mean, in the old trilogy, you’ve basically got space Hitler, and Vader already had the “noble knight gone bad” story — so the basic template for the Emperor was set way back then. Lucas just jammed in the rest of the details later, on random

      • Muthsarah

        Hmm…totally apropos to nothing, but…WHEN did you enlist, Mr. Mendo?

        • MichaelANovelli

          2007, before the absurdly-lenient enlistment requirements were changed back to to how they used to be. :)

      • Even I noticed that at the age of twelve.

        • MichaelANovelli

          Lucas has many fine qualities. Subtlety is not one of them.

          • Jonathan Campbell

            Yeah….I’m thinking coincidence.

  • Gallen Dugall

    I’m going to disagree a little here and there. Jar-Jar, Urkel and all have a spiritual forerunner not mentioned. Jerry Lewis. Jerry Lewis did a “loser” character (back when nerd and geek were just other words for “loser”) as a shtick starting sometime in the ’50s and that was the first thing I thought of when I saw Jar-Jar… only Ahmed Best was at least 40% less annoying and 30% funnier – I giggled at the gun stuck to his foot scene the first time I saw it, but while the rest was too juvenile for me it never enraged me.

    I know nothing of Urkel as I was elsewhere in the ’90s so I’ll talk about the others. My main problem with the Jar-Jar was that he was always on. Comedy allows the dramatic tension to reset without resolution so that it can build right back up. Every time tension should have risen in PM, he does something. Years later I discovered that his constant prat falling was not in the script but added by junior animators who had been assigned the task of animating scenes in which Jar Jar was just part of the scene. So they added “the funny”. I think GL signed off because he was too cheap to tell them to redo the scenes. Remember that 90% of the reason for the prequels to exist was to fund special effects development.

    The Chris Rock character in The Fifth Element is one I always took as a light satire of pop culture personalities and the cult of fame in general. Jarring, self-important and largely irrelevant to what’s really going on seems spot on. Never had a problem with it. Anywho, I don’t get arguments that the movie is meant to be deep. It’s a very funny movie, the concept of that ZF-1 is hilarious.

    I’ll also disagree about the political part of Star Wars. You ask anyone in Hollywood if their movie has a political message and they will say YES! Just the claim of bashing someone on the right is worth two extra stars in every review. Current example “The Purge” which is just a rip off of a two minute segment known as “The Red Hour” in a Star Trek TOS episode and has no significant logic or politics in it, but they claimed it was bashing the “Tea Party” and that bought their movie praise as subtly brilliant, innovative, edgy, demi-god-like, and not a complete pile of shit that wastes your time with an inane nonsensical plot, along with piles of other worthless accolades by the useful idiots in film journalism. The exception to this rule is if they’re bashing a lefty, then they say “there’s no message they’re aware of” even when it’s right in your face… *ahem* Winter Soldier *ahem*, but yeah, PM was written in an afternoon and the lack of thought really shows especially in self-defeating nature of the villain’s plot… the plot that gets them kicked out of office if it had succeeded. Sure GL may have reworked Newt Gingrich’s name for Nute Gunray, kinda, but that’s as far as it gets. I don’t hate PM, but it aint deep.

    • Muthsarah

      “Comedy allows the dramatic tension to reset without resolution so that
      it can build right back up. Every time tension should have risen in PM,
      he does something”

      Serious question: Why is this (EDIT: Comic relief relieving tension comically) NOT a bad thing in general? If tension is supposed to build….why have a silly character step in to mug or flail his arms around and fall down while hooting? If tension is supposed to build….why should it not build UP to something? Why is resetting dramatic tension not seen as a cheap cop-out, or as a complete defeat of the entire reason to build tension in the first place? Tension is the very essence of drama, triply so of suspense. It shouldn’t be so easily disposed of, else it be rendered meaningless. Movies that use tension effectively build it carefully, and USE it for some end. They don’t just release it via a convenient pressure valve, as if it serves no purpose.

      General issue I have with comic relief. For the record, I totally GET comic relief like the Genie in Aladdin. Title character gets hurled down a cave and disappears into the darkness as the villain is left alone in the sands, sans treasure. Everyone is miserable, everyone lost. Story has, for the moment, come to a halt. Enter Genie. Fun times, plus Genie-related plot contrivance moves on to next scene, and the continuation of the story.

      But, for Lord of the Rings….the party just lost Gandalf. Barely escaped from Moria. Are wandering around strange woods. Spirits are low. Gimli acts like a total idiot. An arrogant idiot. Talks about how he couldn’t walk into an ambush if it was the ambushiest day in the ambushiest month of the year, and he was wearing his ambushiest underwear. And he immediately walks into an ambush. Dramatic tension….gone. Let’s all laugh at Gimli. For thinking he’s a person. Stupid dwarf. Stupid token dwarf who thinks he’s a person. Ha ha haaaaaaaaaaah! Anyway, the plot continues….not logically, but it does. Shut up and watch, you!

      Tension is a good thing. Releasing tension by having a token comic relief character acting buffoonishly is cheap and just plain ruinous for that character. Shouldn’t tension hang over the audience, weigh them down like a dentist-issued lead vest, until a PROPER time of release? Like a hero being heroic and saving the day? Or a narrow escape from hordes of baddies? That oppressive weight of constantly building tension…..to me…it feels so good.

      I can’t be the only one. I can’t.

      “The Chris Rock character in The Fifth Element is one I always took as a light satire of pop culture personalities and the cult of fame in general. Jarring, self-important and largely irrelevant to what’s really going on seems spot on. Never had a problem with it. Anywho, I don’t get arguments that the movie is meant to be deep. It’s a very funny movie, the concept of that ZF-1 is hilarious.”

      Chris Rock? Oh no. No. No, no, no, no, no, no. Gallen. Dugall. Dude. You aren’t. It’s written right above. Clearly you can….you can…….you must. Be able to tell Chris Rock from Chris Tucker….right?

      • Gallen Dugall

        Everyone from Shakespeare to Hitchcock has used humor in this way. Basically it’s an acknowledgement that human psychology has limits to how much investment they’re willing to put into something before they throw up their hands and stop giving a crap. It’s also why you hear the descriptive term “rollercoaster” applied to movies to describe how they bring you through a series of emotional ups and downs.
        Humor doesn’t have to be slapstick. It can be a comment or a juxtaposition. North by Northwest is probably the best example of how to use humor to a deadly serious story to make the stakes seem that much more serious. It’s also not the only way to throw in a reset. Another way is to make it look like there has been resolution only to have the “conflict” in the story turn out to be something completely different or an even bigger problem arise.
        Your LotR example is a good one. They could have instead focused on how safe they were now that they were in elvish lands, then throw in that they were unwelcome and were being thrown back to the orcs, which would have made the river scene that much more dramatic. The last bit of the comic relief Gimli does about the perils awaiting them works much better.
        I’d argue that humor is the hardest method, humor in general is very context sensitive, but it’s the most obvious. Look at Whedon’s Avengers compared to Gunn’s GotG. Whedon uses long build up clever conversation while Gunn uses short jabs before returning to the plot. Frankly it points to the weakness of Whedon’s methods as it eats up a lot of screen time for the same result.
        Chris Rock, Chris Tucker – lol. Been so long since I’ve seen any of those movies I did a Sam Jackson, Lawrence Fishburne! Hey at least they have similar names.

        • Muthsarah

          I’m not disputing the need to have moments relieving dramatic tension, but why characters are put into films only to handle this element themselves. Not including dedicated comedies here, just the addition of wacky, zany characters to films that aren’t about wacky, zany antics. These otherwise-pointless characters are BAD for movies. They almost almost drag them down, and if something about a movie is likely to piss off the viewer (especially me), it’s going to be the comic relief.

          In my observations, comic relief in movies tends to not follow logically from the source of tension, and that instead of having supporting characters deliver comic relief on the side, they end up existing ONLY for comic relief, not fitting into the rest of the story in any logical way. As much as I enjoyed Frozen, and even felt that Olaf was a not-annoying character (a small triumph), I still felt that it wasn’t until the very end that he finally did one thing plot-related, with the speech in front of the fireplace, leading Anna to will herself to find Kristoff out on the ice. Aside from that, he felt like a character edited into an already-complete story. Take him out, basically same movie.

          When I think of movies that build dramatic tension and then relieve it organically, I think of the stuff like the Indiana Jones movies. Oh my god, Indy’s having to escape from poison darts, and falling floors, and a giant boulder. Oh, the rising dramatic tension, I so feels it! Aaaaaaaaand…he somehow got away; I knew he would, but I didn’t know how. Oh, what an pleasant resolution to a delightful scene.

          Fast-paced action movies have very natural resolutions to this kind of tension (when they don’t have annoying sidekicks delivering stupid jokes right before or right after a big stunt that should be allowed to stand on its own), but even thrillers, like The Fugitive and The Sting found ways to turn chases and stuff into tense moments that resolved themselves when the hero gets away. Natural, logical resolution to tense scenes. And some action movies just make their action scenes over-the-top flashy, and succeed in being both gripping and funny. I wouldn’t call a single scene of Big Trouble in Little China tense, but it’s still a fun, funny movie, because it’s equal parts violent and gleeful. None of these movies had dedicated comic relief characters (well, the Indy sequels did), nor did they need them. The central character and the dramatic set-pieces resolved the tension themselves. And, yeah, Cary Grant’s quips kept NbNW humming along. Thornhill was just a naturally sarcastic, witty character who couldn’t believe what he’d been thrown into.

          Jar-Jar, however, was completely extraneous to the plot of this movie (and, sad to say, you coulda taken Gimli out of LotR and not lost anything). The Jedi had magical underwater breathing apparatuses on their person, even though they were just heading out to a space station to settle a trade dispute, so how hard is it to believe they couldn’t have stumbled onto the Gungan town on their own? Or just bypass it altogether and head straight for the palace? Why did they need Jar-Jar to help them? And did he do anything else in that movie that was plot relevant? It’s been a while, but I can’t think of anything. He seemed to mostly do slapstick in the background, or after a real character had walked off-screen. As you said, he was always on. He was pure comic relief. And I don’t understand why these characters have to exist. Wicket made sense in RotJ, and had a cute scene with Leia, but he was only really in that one scene, to lead the good guys to the Ewok village and set up the big battle later. Just limiting Jar-Jar’s screentime and having him guide the Jedi to Padme, and set up the later reveal of a whole army of Jar-Jars would have made sense. But he had nothing relevant to do during this movie. It’s not just a problem of him being on, but of simply being present in scenes that didn’t need him.

          I don’t think the movie would have had tension even if he wasn’t there (the script’s problems were too fundamental), but it would have moved a little faster, and at least made it seem like the movie was taking its ludicrous plot seriously. If anything, Jar-Jar made it harder to focus on what was really going on around him, like he was trying to distract the audience from realizing how bad the plot was. It’s actually pretty damn interesting what you said above about much of his antics not being in the script. I wonder if the film’s editors had any actual power over what they were doing, and whether so many of these “improv” moments were left in at the ends of scenes because there had been so little else going on. Gotta put something in your movie, right?

          As far as Whedon vs. Gunn, I think it’s pretty clear that Whedon tends to lead with dialogue, and structure his story to allow his characters plenty of time to bicker and snark between action set-pieces. Based on GotG, Gunn leads with action, and only inserts little bits of dialogue to help steer the plot without ever slowing the action down. Personally, I enjoyed The Avengers’ method more, especially as the comedic scenes were the only parts that worked for me in either movie, and Avengers had more of them.

          • Gallen Dugall

            Comedy is hard. I think the fact that it is recognized as hard is one reason why so many try, take a bit of arrogance to make any movie. Again I’d point to the modern master of dramatic tension Hitchcock. North by Northwest has some seriously goofy comedy in it, but its used in a way that doesn’t detract from it being a dark cold war spy story.
            Indiana Jones is a great example of Spielberg’s methods. He uses comedy too, sometimes in the middle of fights. The famous gag where Indy shoots the swordsmaster closes out that fight and run sequence bringing tension down only to ramp it up to the max a minute later when Marion is presumably killed.
            To be fair to LotR those books are bad. I know they’re important to the creation of the fantasy genre, but there are a lot of characters who do nothing there are a lot of scenes that go nowhere. Gimli may as well have not been in the books as pointless as he was except as a voice to get them into Moria.
            I think we pretty much agree, it’s just that we’re phrasing it differently. Even good writers and directors tend to get overly impressed with their wit and end up adding too much comedy where it’s inappropriate just to show how witty they are. Moderation is the key. Also one has to actually be funny for comedy to work and a lot of “humor” these days is (as you’ve pointed out) just mocking the characters for being different.

          • guest

            Thank you for saying the LotR books are bad. I read each a couple of times and I liked them, but the the movie had much better characters and removed a lot of unnecessary stuff. In my experience, even people who read the books tend to mostly remember only the plots and characters from the *movies*, and I think Peter Jackson did a great job with changing and simplifying the story, and the actors saved the characters.

          • Gallen Dugall

            Jackson’s writers impress me very much.
            Much like Star Wars is an important movie more than it is a good movie it’s the same thing with Tolkien’s LotR books. They created the fantasy genre out of the faerie tale genre but they’re not a best of example of the genre. It’s what makes me annoyed with the Hobbit movies. They’re straight fantasy but were written as faerie tale.

    • MichaelANovelli

      Actually, now that you mention it, Urkel has a much more direct antecedent in the character Iola from the sitcom Mama’s Family. They’re more or less identical, right down to both playing the accordion. The main difference being that Iola was a woman, and played by the actress who was later cast as Gunny on Major Dad. ^_^

      • Gallen Dugall

        I’m not familiar with that one

        • MichaelANovelli

          I would respond with a YouTube clip, but there are no good ones. :( I’d say just watch the second season of Mama’s Family on Netflix or something…

  • Ken Zevo

    “… like a bunch of… crashy things, that are all interconnected somehow.”
    Like a big heaping platter of spaghetti and Match Box toy cars with marinara sauce, maybe, lol?

    • MichaelANovelli

      That sounds about right…

  • Art Salmons

    Here, let me summarize this article.

    Everyone: “Jar Jar is a stupid character.”
    Author: “No he’s not, it’s just that you’re all racist.”

    When you’re so desperate to find racism that you have defend Jar Jar Binks, you know your credibility has died.

    “I started wondering (again) just why the hell geek culture is so obsessed with race”

    We’re not. It’s just that journalists, even nerd ones, feel they have to be Big Important Justice Crusaders who have to stick it to The Man to justify their self worth.

    • MichaelANovelli

      It must be nice to live in a world where cosplayers are never hassled for playing characters of different races, or people weren’t so upset over Rue being played by a black actress that the sheer number of racist tweets made the mainstream news, or where people didn’t lose their shit when Miles Morales took over as Spider-Man, or any number of other examples I could mention. I assume in this dimension, Jimi Hendrix is still alive and Vigors give us the power to summon ravens?

      I don’t know what sort of rock you’d have had to be living under not to see how much of the first wave of hatred against Jar Jar was centered around race, unless you just weren’t alive at the time. That’s a possibility, I guess.

      Big Important Justice Crusader? So, like, I fight for freedom, wherever there’s trouble? Sweet! I’m a G.I. Joe! ^_^

      • Muthsarah

        The first wave of Jar-Jar hate wasn’t based on this premise. I know, because I was there. It did NOT actually go:

        A) This guy is annoying, and I haven’t even seen the movie yet

        B) People tell me he’s a black caricature

        Therefore: I hate him because I don’t accept broad comic relief if they’re even vaguely black.

        Instead, it went:

        A) This guy is annoying, and I haven’t even seen the movie yet

        B) He is obviously a take-off of the “loud, black idiot/panicky/coward” stereotypical comic relief character of film yore.

        Therefore: George Lucas created an old-timey black stereotype to be the comic relief in this movie I’ve been waiting over half my life for. This looks horrible.

        And once they saw the movie:

        C) And this movie ****ing sucks too. Especially Jar-Jar*.

        * – The “especially” isn’t necessarily mine, but it was the single-greatest (pluralistically) complaint about the movie, as, while some people excused the bad dialogue, and some excused poor Jake Lloyd, and some excused the over-reliance on shallow SFX, and some excused the clunky foreshadowing, and some excused the ham-fisted “political intrigue” plot, almost NO ONE excused Jar-Jar. From the start. He was the consensus greatest-of-all-evils.

        I get that race-based double standards are still with us in movies and the geekosphere. But to take Heimdallgate (still probably the biggest such kerfuffle the Internet has created in the Internet Age proper) as example, it’s important to bear in mind that comics fans have a knee-jerk reaction against ANY change. The next Superman is going to have light brown hair, and not the traditional black? YOU’RE RUINING THE CHARACTER!!!! Spidey is now a darker shade of beige? YOU”RE KILLING PETER!!!!

        Any change is gonna bring butthurt grief. I’m not a total stranger to that. But Jar-Jar wasn’t a typical case. And it wasn’t just about him being too black to be goofy. Make him a Jewish stereotype (he’d be every bit as annoying as a Jerry Lewis stand-in), people woulda hated him just as much.

        The movie didn’t work. At all. While some people at the time liked it, their numbers have thinned with time. The character didn’t work either. At all. And he’s gotten no more sympathy over the years. Even Lucas – the guy who wouldn’t release the original versions of the first three films, no matter how much the fans griped and moaned – was nevertheless convinced to all but abandon Jar-Jar, because of just how much he was hated. And he wasn’t SUPPOSED to be hated. He was supposed to be the funny one. The one the kids woulda liked. To keep the movie flowing during the “heavy” scenes. And he failed. Completely. And instead became a figure of mass-hatred. Thus, he is a TERRIBLE character. To claim it’s “all about the melanin” is to excuse everything else about him. I know you like to be the iconoclast, but there are limits. It’s really rather insulting to hear that you think the only reason people hate Jar-Jar is because they didn’t accept his “blackness”. EVERYTHING was wrong with him.

        EDIT: Oh, and there’s just one more thing:

        I don’t recall seeing/hearing ANY complaining about Mace Windu. Y’know, until Revenge of the Sith and his death underlined how completely pointless his character was. I remember there being a lot of excitement about him. People were still hyped for AotC, thinking that it HAD to rebound, and with no Jar-Jar in the trailers, replaced with Samuel L. Jackson, that the second movie was gonna be what the first movie was supposed to have been.

        Until it wasn’t, obviously. Windu was still just a tease. Which was, sadly, the best his character ever became. But, again, nobody was griping about him.

        • MichaelANovelli

          Well, Mace Windu was barely in the first one, and most people probably wouldn’t have even know his name if his action figure hadn’t been THE big promotional giveaway to hype the movie with.

          I remember this, because I was also there. ^_^

          • Muthsarah

            I didn’t realize Mace Windu was even TECHNICALLY in the first one. I remember all the buzz being about him being in the second one.

            All the same, it seems like the type of situation where you’re setting up the goalposts JUST to prove your point, and not how they are naturally set up:

            Argument: People who say Jar-Jar is a terrible character are racist. No one thought he was racist at the time, that was just a debate tactic conjured up when the initial Phantom Menace haters realize that not everyone hated Jar-Jar as they did. Again, because they are racists.

            Response: There are TONS of reasons we hate Jar-Jar. He’s annoying and distracting (yes, distracting from a terrible plot, but adding $#!+ to puke doesn’t make either more palatable). He only exists to pander to kids, which people complained about plenty way back in 1983, which Lucas shoulda remembered. Kids like action, adults like action, therefore action is good and should have been the focus of the movie. Even if kids liked Jar-Jar, adults hated him, so including him alienated a big part of the audience. And both kids and adults alike hated the “politics” part, so that’s not even a reverse of the Jar-Jar phenomenon. No politics, no Jar-Jar. Focus on the action, the Force, that stuff works for everybody.

            Argument: People who don’t accept Jar-Jar only do so because they don’t want any other races (than white) in Star Wars.

            Response: What about Mace Windu? People were plenty excited about him. We thought he was gonna be a tough-talking, intense 90s-definition-of-badass Jedi Master, hence the casting of tough-talking, intense 90s-definition-of-badass Samuel L. Jackson to play him. Even in the three years after AotC, people still liked him, because we thought SOMETHING cool was gonna happen with him.

          • MichaelANovelli

            Nobody ever claimed Mace Windu ruined the Phantom Menace.

          • Muthsarah

            People who claim that Jar-Jar ruined The Phantom Menace are probably just saving time, and being very considerate of your busy lifestyle, Mendo. You should appreciate their consideration.

            I don’t know anyone, nor have I ever, who has claimed that the movies would have been good without him. Either they (sensibly) hate everything about them, or they are (or at the time of our conversation, were) six years old, in which case they love everything about the movies, and are simply too dumb to know any better. That’s fine. Kids are dumb. I used to think the Turtles cartoon was good. I used to think Empire Strikes Back was boring. I even once found the Power Rangers tolerable. I grew out of it, and am now an objectively superior being. It happens to most of us, sooner or later.

            If the purpose of this article is to state that the people who claim that Jar-Jar single-handedly ruined the prequels are wrong, well…that’s kinda a “duh”. But all the same…source please? Where are the people claiming that Jar-Jar ruined the movie all on his own, as if to imply nothing else was ruining it at the same time?

          • MichaelANovelli

            Actually, as I recall, the article is about race and the perception of race within the geek community, and used Jar Jar as a relative starting point because it’s an example we’re all familiar with. Ironically, all this nitpicking about Star Wars (instead of the actual meat of the article) sort of proves my point, sadly…

          • Art Salmons

            Which invalidates your logic. If we were all racist, we would hate him too.

          • MichaelANovelli

            The logic of my article is summed up in this sentence: “I honestly can’t recall a single example of someone claiming an annoying character “ruined the movie” when there wasn’t a non-white actor playing the role.”

            Please read the entire article before commenting. ^_^

          • Art Salmons
          • Curtis Evans

            Hhhhmmmm, Shia Labeouf in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and Tranformers 2 & 3. Shane, the BF, in Transformers 4. Rachel in War of the Worlds. Young John Conner in Terminator 2. So, you have never heard anyone complain about any of these? Ok, the refrigerator or everything in Crystal Skull might be a true complaint, too.

          • MichaelANovelli

            Everything I’ve heard about those movies from other people said the annoying sidekick was the *least* of their problems. ^_^

        • Curtis Evans

          I came away from the prequels thinking the Jedi, the Jedi Counsel, and the Sith where all the saddest losers in the history of films. Their bad choices and acts made them all look as tough as a senior citizen/pensioners street gang.

  • Curtis Evans

    I’m sure Micheal N. has seen more movies and tv than me but off the top of my head. Annoying white people in scifi: All the family but the mom in Spielberg’s War of the Wars (2005) especially the daughter. I’m sure the annoying main characters was a main reason it didn’t do so well if I remember it right. Both kid and adult Anakin Skywalker are really annoying. I do feel bad for Jake Lloyd as a child actor. Classic Dr. Who companions: Tegin, Adric, and Melanie Bush. New Who has Donna Noble. I know Drs and companion taste will vary. NG Star Trek’s Welsey Crusher, Deanna Troi, and, maybe, Riker. Most of the crew in ST: Voyager! The family in the Lost in Space remake super annoying! Does Predator 2, Aliens 3 & 4, and Prometheus have some annoying white characters I really can’t remember.

    The problems of the SW prequels is there are some many problems Jar-Jar just became the easy go to punching bag/symbol of all these problems. Example, Natalie Portman is a award-winning actress you won’t know it by watching SW 1-3. Bad writing, bad plot, iffy special effects, bad editing, and bad acting. These movies are some of the most watched average to bad films ever. If Jar-Jar’s slapstick was bored effects programmers making him do a lot of that dumb stuff then that’s even worst because Lucas should put down the hammer and made Jar-Jar a more series character. Lucas wanted control of these movies and he didn’t control this part of the movies, weird.

    However, I do feel Micheal N. has a point robots, minorities, and alien characters where comedy sidekicks for most of scifi movie/tv history. Old Battle Star had that dumb robot dog. 70s(?) Buck Rogers had Twiki. The list of minority actors treated badly or having bad parts in scifi would be a huge list. Even in more main stream movies and tv minorities seam to get short changed a lot.

    • MichaelANovelli

      Not to put to fine a point on it, but if the entire cast is annoying, you can’t exactly blame the sidekicks. LOL

      Never seen very much of Doctor Who, but I’ll take your word for it.

      But, thank you for your response. You’ve clearly given what I wrote some thought and that’s all I could ask for. I appreciate it! ^_^

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  • Brian

    Ruby Rod was one of the greatest original future pop stars ever. That’s WHY he violated your delicate sensitivities.

  • Cobra Commander

    This article is dogshit and the author is a douche. Oh, and The Fifth Element rules, and Ruby Rhod is sure as hell no Jar Jar. BTW, if you like Jar Jar, you are infantile and very gay. That is all.