Star Wars is many things, and has many messages. One of, in my opinion, the most important messages that Star Wars presents is that small and innocent means provide a foil for the mighty. Let’s call that the thesis of this post.
In response to the enormous amount of Jar Jar hate that is still prevalent out there (Seriously people? It’s been 16 years, give it a rest), I’ve articulated my thoughts on his role to the saga as a whole. You cannot exclude Jar Jar from the saga and have it keep the same weight. What he represents not only gives the prequels an extra layer of meaning, but also improves the original films. Because of the controversial nature of this topic, I am not writing it for StarWars.com, but you can expect a post about the Fool archetype sometime in the future.
So let’s get down to it.
Jar Jar is the embodiment of innocence that has been manipulated and corrupted. Qui-Gon was the only one who could see Jar Jar’s worth, since he was the one most in tune with the living Force. The same is true of Anakin. It is not a coincidence that both these “pathetic lifeforms” were responsible for the fall of the Republic. Qui-Gon understood the idea that from small, unexpected life would come salvation. It is because of his trust that salvation occurs in Episode 1. It is due to Jar Jar and Anakin that the day is won.
Move forward 10 years, and both Anakin and Jar Jar no longer have Qui-Gon, or someone like him who understands their worth. Because of this, Palpatine is able to manipulate Jar Jar to gain power in the Senate. Anakin is also corrupted, though granted, he is not as innocent as Jar Jar. Because people weren’t believing in these characters the way Qui-Gon did, they were easily used for bad, and no one cared. Because, after all, Jar Jar is “useless” and “annoying.” That’s exactly what he’s supposed to be. That’s what everyone but Qui-Gon thought too. And for that reason, no one raised an eyebrow at Palpatine’s manipulations of Jar Jar.
Fast forward another 26 years, and we see a similar situation with the Ewoks. Again, they are creatures whose value is easy to underestimate. But Luke does not fall into the same trap that the rest of the Jedi order did with Jar Jar and Anakin. He understands their worth, which is why he tells Han to put down his weapons. He knows it’s going to be all right. And his intuition, his connection to the living Force, pays off. The Ewoks are, in the end, the saviors of the Rebellion, proving once again that small and simple means will topple the mighty.
When you learn to understand what George was building here, and can see past knee-jerk reactions about how annoying Jar Jar is, you begin to see the brilliant tapestry and circular chiasmus that George fabricated (Note: I highly recommend checking out starwarsringtheory.com for more on that). This is why I find fan edits that remove Jar Jar to be lacking in understanding and are frankly insulting to the original work. Everyone is, of course, entitled to their opinion and I’m not saying you should like Jar Jar or the prequels. However, I am trying to increase understanding of the prequels here. Too many people are made biased by their negative knee-jerk reactions to the film that they miss what was really going on there. It’s sad really. So hopefully this was enlightening. I hope to talk more about Jar Jar, and his role as the Fool archetype, in future posts. Look forward to that.