What I really like about Jar Jar Binks is that he’s so different. Not only is he an alien, but he’s not even a neurotypical Gungan. After all, he was exiled due to clumsiness: rather a severe penalty but he had annoyed the Big Chief Boss Nass once too many times. Following several unfortunate events in which he was well-meaningly but disastrously involved, he became persona non grata in his own submarine home city of Otoh Gunga. He’s socially inept and physically awkward: two notable characteristics of many an Aspie. A Gungan Aspie on the wrong planet! Although he can be annoying at times, I find him rather lovable.
I find it interesting that so many folk in the “real” world disliked Jar Jar for this very reason. George Lucas was inundated with criticism for introducing him to the Star Wars cast. Some people, who lack imagination, accused Lucas of racial caricaturing and alleged that Jar Jar was a racial stereotype. How can he be when he’s a Gungan, and not even a typical one at that? People who see any resemblance between real and fictional characters seem to lack the ability to distinguish between them. Thus even innocent children’s characters such as the Seven Dwarves and the golliwogs from Noddy become politicized, which was certainly not the intention of their original creators!
Is Jar Jar Binks simply too different and awkward for their comfort? Do they cringe when they see how gangling his gait is or how he so frequently does something to embarrass his companions? Just as they find it hard to socialize with people they consider “different” they seem to find it harder to connect with any character considered atypical by the standards of his peers.
On Tatooine, our hungry Gungan grabbed a (to him) delicious looking Gorg from a street vendor, only to spit it out at an aggressive Dug when the vendor tdemanded seven wupiupi from him. The confrontational and arrogant Sebulba didn’t take kindly to a half chewed Gorg being thrown at him while taking his lunch. People on the Asperger spectrum are just as likely to occasionally do something without really thinking, and allow a manageable situation to get out of hand. Luckily for the first-time visitor to Tatooine, the streetwise young Anakin was around to handle Sebulba’s temper.
At the Skywalker home the usually easygoing Qui-Gon Jinn grabbed the hapless reptile’s tongue when he reached out with it to grab a juicy looking morsel from a bowl in the centre of the table. Even the Jedi Knight evidently appeared somewhat irritated by the Gungan’s unpredictable table manners. In the same way, people on the spectrum don’t usually feel bound by social norms and etiquette.
Luckily, Jar Jar had the opportunity of broadening his horizons way beyond what his dreams and expectations and his life was changed forever when he met the Jedi. He was instrumental in bringing about an alliance between the human and Gungan peoples of Naboo to resist the Trade Federation. Eventually, this figure of fun became a Senator for Naboo and spokesman for its sentient people, both human and Gungan. However, Coruscant was a murky hotbed of cut-throat Galactic politics and not an easy place for a well meaning young politician, who only wanted to serve his people to the best of his ability, to find his feet.
Despite the fact that he naively introduced the proposal giving emergency powers to Supreme Chancellor Palpatine from his home planet, thus bringing about great trouble for the Republic that would ultimately lead to numerous wars and the destruction of the Jedi, he remains a figure of respect because even if he hadn’t been the one to bring the proposal to the table, Palpatine would have used someone else to secure this vital step in his scheme for domination of the galaxy.
As Star Wars.com says: “his best intentions and willingness to serve were exploited by scheming Senators and others in positions of power.”
Jar Jar had no reason to distrust the seemingly friendly and rational Palpatine. This is another trait common to a number of Aspies: naivety and the inability to detect duplicity in others. After all, due to his slick manoeuvring Palpatine had convinced thousands of Senators that he was the right choice for the preservation of democracy and order. From the time he replaced Chancellor Valorum he was seen as someone who had the interests of the Republic at heart while no one could have suspected his study and embracement of the Dark Side.
Palpatine’s devious schemes even managed to evade the attention of the force-sensitive Jedi until it was too late and the Sith Lord was ready to implement Order 66. Mace Windu appeared surprised to hear the sensational news from Anakin Skywalker not long before the latter’s decision to abandon the Jedi Order and serve Palpatine instead.
It is unfair to blame Jar Jar Binks for allowing Palpatine to attain the unprecedented power the special resolution afforded him. Palpatine could read people pretty well and knew just how to manipulate them toward his long-sought goal of complete dictatorship.