Why is Jar Jar Binks Annoying...but C3PO isn't?

Someone asked me this today, and I don’t have a good answer. Threepio is a useless, whingeing sidekick, who says dumb things and gets people in trouble…very much like Jar Jar. He talks funny, he’s worse than useless, he’s helpless and keeps getting in trouble…

Why isn’t Threepio as irritating? Why does everyone hate Jar Jar, but there’s no great hate for goldie?

C3P0 is funny because he’s a dolt

Jar Jar is just an annoying pandering insult to anyone and everyone.

My WAG is that one of the big things that bugged people about Jar Jar was the stupid way that he talked. If he talked more ‘normal’ or had a smaller part in the movie I don’t think people would have thought as much of it.

Regarding C3PO, it’s been a while since I saw it, but IIRC, R2D2 was endlessly useful and they were essentially a pair (but I could be wrong on that, my answer to the OP is still jar jar was annoying).

C3PO gives the impression of gracia and delicadeza, though he’s hardly useful to anyone. Jar jar is an ungainly creature, albeit valiant and trustworthy. The combination of bad looks and weak personality is unforgivable.

C3PO is a robot. They’re supposed to be annoying. Jar Jar was some kind of semi-humanoid creature, those are supposed to be funny and he wasn’t.

Jar Jar was designed to appeal to children. It apparently takes away from the seriousness of the story.

C-3PO is my favourite Star Wars character.

Threepio’s humour comes from his ignorance and unawareness of human behaviour. It’s not painfully poor slapstick or pulling funny faces like Jar-Jar.

Having said that, the “jokes” for Threepio in the prequels were embarrassingly bad and I try not to think of them.

I’ve already mentally rewritten part of Phantom Menace such that R2D2 is the useful multifunction droid that helps Anakin Skywalker with his work, while C3PO is a protocol droid assigned to Amidala’s ship, since I feel this better fits their ostensibly intended functions, reversing their situations in the film. Of course, it works just as well if neither droid appears in any of the prequels.

Well, on the increasingly rare occasions I muse on Phantom Menace, of course.

C3PO is funny and Jar Jar isn’t.

A big part of humor is contrast, and C3PO is an excellent study on contrast; he is completely different from his buddy R2D2 and is himself a contrast, wanting to be helpful and purposeful but being an oblivious doofus.

Jar Jar contrasts with nothing. He has no counterpart, and he himself is just a clown.

The point about Jar Jar being designed to appeal to children is actually a pretty apt one, and if I may draw a comparison, consider how insufferable Sesame Street become when it started to revolve around Elmo. Elmo doesn’t serve any comic function recognizable to an adult, the way Grover, Kermit, Ernie & Bert et al. all did; they appealed to children but used comedic techniques that appealed to the grownup as well. (Many of Grover’s scenes with the constantly irritated blue-skinned muppet are absolutely Grade A TV comedy.) The relationship between C3PO and R2D2 is quite similar in tone and theme to Bert and Ernie, the former being prissy, easily irritated and more clueless than they themselves believe (another similar pairing in a kid’s show would be Squidward and Spongebob) while the latter is cheerfully determined and prone to antagonizing the former, often without really wanting to.

Who’s Jar Jar’s counterpart? There is none; he’s just an idiot.

I don’t think that’s the full extent of it; there’s also the generally displeasing CGI look of him. But that lack of basic comedy science is most of the problem.

Everybody…and RickJay particularly…good answers. C3PO is moderated by R2, has the dignity inherent in his metal frame, has some dignity when doing his job as an interpreter, and…knows when to shut down!

C3PO has a few saving graces…and Jar Jar just plain doesn’t.

I’m cutting and pasting all the above to send to my friend. Thank’ee!

I had thought that, at the end of The Phantom Menace, when Jar-Jar was made a general, he would redeem himself by leading the Gungan forces to victory. Well, the Gungans gave a good account of themselves but Jar-Jar was still the same old idiot with the same old stupid slapstick pratfalls.

Well, Threepio didn’t delve into juvenile fart and poop jokes. So there’s that.

Mesa thinks yousa right about dat!

C3PO was occasionally useful during the original trilogy. In the first film he was mostly an audience surrogate (note that he gets the very first lines) while playing straight man to R2D2, but in Empire Strikes Back he informs the rebels that the signal from the probe droid was in an unfamiliar code, helping alert the rebels that the Empire had found their base. In Return of the Jedi he narrates the story of the Alliance to the Ewoks, convincing them to help the rebels.

One of the more mystifying decisions Lucas made, amongst many. Their roles are in their job description!

The essence of humor is confounding expectations.

Kids have less experience of the world so doing this is easier. Jar Jar Binks moves and talks funny and that is enough to make kids laugh.

Adults are a tougher audience not least because they have already experienced crude comedy when they were kids. C3PO sounds like an English butler but looks like a crude robot and keeps saying the wrong thing. He is confounding expectations in two different ways at the same time so adults find him funny even after seven Star Wars films.

I first saw “A New Hope” not long after it was first released. I perceived a lot of cliches from old westerns. Being in that mindset, I thought of C3PO as the comedic sidekick who’s rarely useful (C3PO : Luke :: Maynard G Krebs : Dobie Gillis) and R2D2 as the quietly efficient sidekick (think of Jay Silverheel’s Tonto to Clayton Moore’s Lone Ranger) . Jar Jar is more like Gilligan compared to the other Castaways. Verbally supportive, but continually screwing up stuff that ends up harming the others.

Was Lucas the one responsible for Jar … god, I can’t even finish the name it’s so resoundingly stupid. If so he should hang his head in shame. 3PO was a great creation.

To summarize and perhaps expand on the points:

  1. C3PO is half of a comedy duo; that gives him a grounding that Jar Jar, with no one to play off of, lacks.

  2. C3PO aspires to dignity–it’s essential to his role, and makes the constant indignities heaped on him by his involvement in the story a comic contrast. I would not be surprised to learn that Jar Jar breaks out in hives upon exposure to dignity. It’s funnier when a guy with a nice suit and a brisk stride trips and falls face-down in wet cement than when a staggering drunk does the same.

  3. C3PO, while often oblivious, is not actually stupid. He’s just out of his depth most of the time. His doomsaying comes off as comically exaggerated, but honestly, it’s often a pretty reasonable assessment, and somebody has to point out that what they’re doing is nuts. Jar Jar is just…dumb. And cheerful about it.

  4. C3PO has a valid skill set; it’s just one that doesn’t come up often because of the nature of the events he’s embroiled in. When it does, as southpaw points out above, he does his job. Jar Jar is a professional screwup.

Most of the worst characters were directly due to Lucas’s children. They were his sounding board and what he viewed as typical of his audience. Jar Jar’s name, for example, was suggested by his son Jett when he was just 4 years old.