Simon Pegg regrets the criticisms he made about Star Wars character Jar Jar Binks. Earlier this month, actor Ahmed Best, who portrayed Jar Jar in the prequel trilogy, revealed on social media he became suicidal after receiving intense backlash. Many moviegoers, particularly those who grew up with the original trilogy, outright hated Jar Jar and took out all of their frustration regarding The Phantom Menace on the Gungan. The response was so negative, George Lucas had little choice but to drastically diminish Jar Jar's role in the following films.
As many know, Star Wars fandom is in a toxic place after the polarizing reactions to The Last Jedi. An anti-Disney group recently took credit for harassing Kelly Marie Tran off Instagram, and a group of fans launched a fundraising campaign to remake Episode VIII so it's up to their standards. The craziness has given plenty of people the opportunity to reflect on their feelings about Star Wars, and Pegg now feels bad about some of the things he's said.
I feel so ashamed of the fact that there was actually a victim, a human victim in that. I think most people were regarding Jar Jar Binks like he was a real creature and wailing on him for being annoying, or whatever, or not liking him. But there was a person behind that. And I read that and just thought, 'Christ, I'm one of those people.' It makes me feel awful.
There was a point in time when Pegg was one of the most vocal prequel detractors, as he used his role on the sitcom Spaced to voice his opinions. On an episode of the show, his character Tim even said, "Jar Jar Binks makes the Ewoks look like f***in' Shaft!" While that was obviously designed to make people laugh, it's nice to see that Pegg recognizes how his words could have hurt a fellow actor and human being. It should be noted Best never singled Pegg's comments out, but Pegg certainly realizes he was part of the angry mob who took their displeasure with Episode I a bit too far. Everyone has the right to dislike a film, but there's no need for things to get to the point where an actor contemplates suicide. As Pegg said when talking about the Tran's incident, "She just was in a film... that's all it is. None of it matters, none of it."
One of the reasons why Star Wars has remained a viable property for more than 40 years is because of the passionate fan base. It's great that so many people love the galaxy far, far away and pass it down from generation to generation, but many would be best-served to keep Pegg's words in mind as Lucasfilm releases new content. The toxicity is currently so severe, talented filmmakers like Christopher McQuarrie are having second thoughts about ever helming a Star Wars movie, so if the franchise is to continue to entertain and delight, everyone needs to take a step back and not get so up in arms about their favorite films. That may be hard to do, but it could lead to a lot of good.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019