The Jar Jar principle

Listened to the Fresh Air interview with Jake Tapper this morning and so loved this part:

Too often in this world, people rise to the level that they remove from their orbit anybody that would tell them Jar Jar Binks [from Star Wars: Episode I, The Phantom Menace] is a horrible character. [Star Wars director] George Lucas would be an example of that. I think he’s one of the most brilliant people on this planet, but I don’t know what happened with those [Star Wars] prequels, but they are not good. The prequels are not good and they made a billion dollars and they’re successful and all that, but they’re not good.

So I see the Jar Jar Binks principle everywhere, and I think it’s important to keep people around you who will tell you when you’re being a jerk. And I have lots of people like that in my life — many, many people. Some of them are even in my house. I think it’s very important, and I think that President Trump is a victim of the Jar Jar Binks principle. I think he removes people from his life that tell him negative things and sometimes for survival they stop criticizing the president, sometimes for survival they leave, sometimes they get pushed out the door. But I think that’s a problem with him and I think it’s one for successful people to keep in mind. [emphasis mine]

Fortunately, my wife definitely lets me know if I’m about to write any Jar Jar characters.  I think I’ve got some friends who will also tell me if I’m wrong.  Of course, I’m not exactly president or a famous movie-maker.  But, all of us need this in our lives.  I honestly think I notice this a lot in books.  For example, you know I love Harry Potter and think JK Rowling is brilliant, but I think people were afraid to tell her about her later books “you know, this is great, but would be even better about 100 pages shorter.”  Or, one of my favorite Science Fiction series, The Hyperion Cantos, in which the initial volume as popular and award winning and the subsequent books were also excellent, but, to my reading, bloated as nobody wanted to tell Dan Simmons they needed to be edited.  Anyway, just make sure you have people in your life who call you out on Jar Jar Binks.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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