Critics may be divided about the overall merits of the "Phantom Menace," but "Star Wars" fans seem pretty uniformly peeved by the debut of Jar Jar Binks, a floppy-eared Gungan jester with protruding eyes and a Caribbean accent.
Even before the film was released, fans began begging George Lucas to delete the "computer-generated homunculus." Why does this jive-talking, subservient character whip up such fury? For one thing, "Star Wars" fans find Jar Jar's contrived clumsiness stupid. And combined with his pidgin English, Jar Jar's idiot-clowning comes across to many as racist.
Anti-Jar Jar agitators are cropping up all over the Web. There are two "Death to Jar Jar Binks" pages, offering disparaging quotes from reviewers and proposing new scenes that would rectify the offending character's presence in the film. (The site calls Jar Jar's appearance in the movie "tragic" and begs visitors to "stop this insanity. Please write to your congressman and ask how you can help.") The Jar Jar Job Hunt site advocates eradicating the creature from coming episodes -- and even offers to help "find gainful employment for Mr. Binks somewhere outside the 'Star Wars' universe."
Around 700 people have joined the International Society for the Extermination of Jar Jar Binks -- many paying $5 to get JarJarMustDie.com e-mail addresses. Another "Jar Jar Must Die" site was so popular that it had to be pulled down for exceeding its traffic quota for a MindSpring customer site. "I've decided to buy a domain name," says webmaster Joel Reeves, "and transfer it to www.diediediejarjar.com." (There is also a National Association for the Extermination of the Gungan Race, which hopes to get rid of not only Jar Jar, but all of his relatives, too.) The domain names IHateJarJar.com and KillJarJar.com have been snapped up, and Yahoo has created a category for anti-Jar Jar pages.
Dissatisfaction with the Gungan even perforated a ring of Jar Jar Binks fan pages, where a pop-up window displaying "Quizlet results" shows that, in response to the question "Do you like Jar Jar too?" 51 percent of the 310 respondents selected as their answer, "No, Jar Jar is annoying."
If there is a positive spin on this backlash, it's that even in condemnation, creativity blossoms: Now we have JarJarSucks.com
-- accessed 3,000 times in 24 hours -- and a site screening a
QuickTime fan flick depicting Binks with an impeccable
British accent. There are re-purposed photos with captions suggesting that Jar Jar's ocular bulge has something to do with dining on testicles. And a Detroit band called Damn Nation even recorded a song titled "Jar Jar Binks Must Die," which can be downloaded from their page in MP3 format.
While Slashdot readers last week voted "Die, Jar Jar, Die" as the best "Star Wars" movie, easily defeating four actual episodes in the series plus another bogus ringer titled "Attack of the Flaming Ewoks," some fans have hit upon a technological solution for Jar Jar. In the alt.video.dvd newsgroup, the hope lies with recordable DVD disks. As one poster put it: "Just think; We'll be able to take that movie, and edit the bastard right out of the picture!"