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From Jar Jar to Dr. Christmas Jones: In Defence Of 3 Disliked Fictional Characters

Sometimes, a character rises above the story they're a part of — however, not always for the right reasons.

By Art-Peeter RoosvePublished 6 years ago 6 min read
'Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace' [Credit: 20th Century Fox]

When looking at some of the most hated characters in fiction, they all seem to have a strange commonality — they're never boring. Sure, we might hate them because they're annoying, tonally off, or downright insulting but they do tend to leave a lasting impression. That, in turn, leads us to a funny little truth. However misguided, there has got to be a fair amount of passion behind them. And where there's passion, there are usually a few hidden virtues to be found.

So, let's play a bit of devil's advocate and give three universally disliked charactersa break by exploring what's genuinely good in them.

3. Jar Jar Binks: The Archetypical Bad Movie Character ('Star Wars')

'Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace' [Credit: 20th Century Fox]

Kicking things off is someone who not only has the dishonour of being one of the most disliked aspects about Star Wars, but is a symbol for a poorly executed character in general. Indeed, we've all probably called an unlikeable fictional character "the Jar Jar" of this or that.

So, what did the Gungan do to earn this kind of less-than-stellar reputation? Well, he probably sums it up the best himself:

"It's A Longo Tale-O, Buta Small Part Of It Would Be Mesa Clumsy."

Now, "clumsy" is probably an understatement here, as it was largely his brand of slapstick that tainted the saga's mytichal feel for many fans. Also, he has been accused of being a racial stereotype and, well, simply annoying.

'Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace' [Credit: 20th Century Fox]

Yet, as lengthy as the list of cinematic sins commited by Mr. Binks is, there are a few silver linings. First off, it should be noted that he actually has a proper arc (going from a social reject to a general to a senator). Also, there are some — albeit rare — moments where he is played completely straight. Whether it be his discussion with Queen Amidala on Coruscant or him calming the Gungan army down before the battle, in these instances he's definitely a three-dimensional character. Furthermore, say what you will about the end result, but the actor Ahmed Best did put genuine effort into the role.

However, the biggest redemption for Jar Jar comes in the form of the legacy he has left behind. Apart from the far-fetched but intriguing theory that he was originally meant to be a twist villain, there are simply too many brilliant parodies and spoofs of him to completely despise his existence. In fact, the Jar Jar skits (voiced by Ahmed Best himself) from Robot Chicken are easily some of the funniest Star Wars-related pieces of media out there. So, while not in the manner how Lucas had intended, Jar Jar did end up providing us with tons of fun and laughter.

2. Davis Motomyia: A Three-Dimensional One-Dimensional Character ('Digimon Adventure 02')

'Digimon Adventure 02' [Credit: Toei Animation]

Digimon Adventure 02 was always going to face a tough task in following up the lightning in a bottle that was the original. However, the creators did themselves no favours by replacing most of beloved original leads with new ones, thus paving the way for some rather unfavourable comparisons. And, well, fair to say that no other character suffered more because of it than Davis.

Now, in regards to these comparisons, it's easy to see why Davis has gathered such a cold reception. Thing is, from his brave but impulsive behaviour to the way he looks, he's clearly meant to be 02's version of Tai from the original. However, where Tai had a fascinating season-long arc of learning how to control his impulsiveness, Davis pretty much stays the same hothead throughout the entire story. There is no clear development and he can indeed come across as rather one note, if not obnoxious.

'Digimon Adventure 02' [Credit: Toei Animation]

However, much like the show itself, Davis actually has a lot going for him once you give him a chance. Not only does he regularly get called out on his rashness in fun ways, but he himself seems to realise that he's not the sharpest tool in the shed. That, in turn, gives the character a surprising amount of sincerity and even makes him endearing. In fact, this act-before-thinking attitude often ends up making him an unexpected voice of reason whenever the group is paralyzed by fear or doubt.

So, while he does tend to operate in only one dimension, at least he does it well.

1. Doctor Christmas Jones: Like Walking In From Another Movie (The Bond Franchise)

'The World Is Not Enough' [Credit: United International Pictures]

PhD. in nuclear physics is not the only title Miss Jones has got goin' for her. She also earned Denise Richards "The Worst Supporting Actress" at the 1999 Razzie Awards, is widely regarded as one of the worst Bond girls of all time, and is frequently labelled the "Jar Jar of the Bond franchise." Why all these prestigious titles? Well, starting with the obvious, the idea of Denise Richards running around in a tank top and shorts while telling everyone that she's a nuclear physicist is as unintentionally funny in practice as it is on paper. Also, following a run of some well-written (and acted) female allies, she just functioned as another stereotypical Bond girl.

Now, while the 007 franchise is full characters like that, it's the context around Dr. Jones that makes her shortcomings especially apparent. Thing is, with The World Is Not Enough everything seemed to be in place for a darker and more mature Bond story. It had a truly intriguing plot, an intense central performance from Brosnan, and one of the most fascinating villains in franchise's history (Elektra King). Therefore, it feels as if Dr. Jones walked in from another movie — a considerably more cliched and less serious one.

However, she's acutally not as annoying as her reputation suggests. Sure, Richard's portrayal is a bit one note and wooden, but she does have this easy-going and energetic feel to her. In fact, as ridiculous as her being a nuclear scientist is, it's almost endearing how straight-faced everyone is about it. Now, as one of the most unique aspects of the Bond franchise is its ability to make tonal inconsistency work, this actually ends up gelling rather well. Simply put, you can enjoy this serious spy story but simultaneously get reminded that you're in this fun and heightened reality.

Also, while the only purpose of naming her Christmas was to provide some classic 007 innuendos ("I thought Christmas only comes once a year"), it does technically make The World Is Not Enough the only Christmas-themed Bond movie out there.

To Sum Up

In a sense, the three characters above offer a nice little reminder that sometimes it's good to watch the world through nostalgia-tinted glasses. How else could one be open enough to see good in an annoying amphibian, hot-headed brat, and the least-convincing nuclear physicist in history?

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About the Creator

Art-Peeter Roosve

So, to put it simply (and slightly cheesily) I'm fascinated with life. And, well, writing about films, TV shows, video games, music, travelling, philosophy and Formula 1 among other is a fun way to explore it.

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