Friday, October 3, 2008

Jar Jar Thinks; or, The Subversive Shuffle

Jar Jar Binks (left) of Star Wars has been described as a "Rastafarian Stepin Fetchit on platform hoofs, crossed annoyingly with Butterfly McQueen."
--Joe Morgenstern in the Wall Street Journal, 5-19-99 (cited in Wikipedia, Jar Jar Binks).

Butterfly McQueen, eh? That got me thinking.

McQueen played the young slave woman Prissy (right) in Gone with the Wind. Prissy acted like a ninny, and her wide-eyed ineptitude annoyed the hell out of her "owner," Scarlett O'Hara.

When the pregnant Melanie goes into labor, with Atlanta burning around them, Prissy shuffles off to fetch the doctor at Scarlett's orders. She lolligags her way back to report that the doctor is too busy with the war wounded to come.
Scarlett tells Prissy she'll have to help deliver the baby; whereupon Prissy shrieks hysterically, "I don't know nothin' about birthin' babies, Miss Scarlett!"

Uh huh.
We all know you can't take these movies at face value.
I don't buy for one second that Prissy is stupid or inept.
No. She is lying.
Prissy's mother is a midwife, for god's sake, and she grew up on a plantation. She knows how to birth babies.
She is engaging in the classic ruse of the powerless and oppressed--pretending to be stupid and resisting by moving slowly. What she's really saying is, "I don't dare stick a knife in you, but I'll be damned if I'm going to help you survive."

Applying this to Jar Jar Binks, I suspect that s/he was an agent of the Dark Side. Not even George Lucas knew.


Jennifer said...

I love your analysis of Prissy there! Awesome!

Considering Jar Jar is obliquely responsible for the Sith victory (apparently through his naivite), I do wonder...perhaps he was working for the Emperor all along. This would rather make me like him more.

bink said...

Gone with the Wind was one of the worst movies i've ever seen (both b-o-r-i-n-g and racist) ... why, oh why, do some people love it?

And Lucas--once he stopped directly copying Japanese flicks he was lost. Should have just concentrated on special effects and left the writing to others--everything after his Hidden Fortress remake (Star Wars) falls flat.

poodletail said...

"... why, oh why, do some people love it?"

The costumes! Scarlett in her red velvet party dress, wearing too much rouge, Melanie in her gray watered silk gown with a cerise sash, Scarlett's voluminous white batiste with embroidered emerald silk leaves scattered across the skirt. Not to mention the memorable Drapery Dress!

Lady Penelope said...

Hot damn! I've never seen GWTW... maybe there's some serious shawl action I have to get in on.

And the film expenses? classic.

I want my DVD copy of your film not only to be signed but also to have the director's commentary extra as well as the "making of" feature.

fresca said...

There's just something extremely American about both GWTW and George Lucas--both a technical brilliance and a crassness that really make one feel "shock and awe."

Pen: Scarlett wears a shawl after the fall of the South, if I remember rightly. (It's been a while.) The clothes are stupendous throughout.
Of course Vivien Leigh looks good in a flour sack...
I love the idea of a director's commentary--it would be about 20x longer than my little film itself, as this is one opinionated director!