ahmed best

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Jar Jar Binks actor Ahmed Best speaks out about fan harassment

Fandom harassment can have a serious impact on its targets.


Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Internet Culture

Posted on Jul 4, 2018   Updated on May 21, 2021, 11:55 am CDT

Jar Jar Binks has long been a punchline in Star Wars fandom, but few people consider the resulting impact on actor Ahmed Best. He provided the voice and motion-capture performance for Jar Jar in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, and he’s had to contend with mockery and disgruntled fans since 1999.

Speaking out on Twitter on Tuesday, Ahmed Best opened people’s eyes to how that backlash affected his life. In the caption to a photo with his son, he revealed he had once contemplated suicide.

Harassment is an ongoing problem in Star Wars fandom, not just between fans but aimed at the cast and crew. Back in the early 2000s, the backlash against The Phantom Menace caused child actor Jake Lloyd to quit acting soon after his big break as Anakin Skywalker.

Toxic fandom is an especially high-profile issue following the release of The Last Jedi. Director Rian Johnson inspired hatred among a vocal minority of conservative fans, who believe he ruined the franchise by giving Luke Skywalker an unexpected storyline and/or casting too many women.

Meanwhile, actress Kelly Marie Tran quit social media due to prolonged harassment. And while The Last Jedi has become the focal point of the culture wars around Star Wars fandom, Daisy Ridley and John Boyega faced similar backlash after The Force Awakens from fans who objected to a woman or a Black man being the figureheads of the new trilogy.

Hopefully by speaking out about his own experiences, Best will remind fans that this kind of harassment has real-world consequences and goes far beyond acceptable behavior for criticizing a movie.

For more information about suicide prevention or to speak with someone confidentially, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (U.S.) or Samaritans (U.K.).


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*First Published: Jul 4, 2018, 11:59 am CDT