Star Wars, Episode 9⅝: The Tears of Jar Jar

Directed J.J. Abrams
Produced by Michael Bay
Starring Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Shia LaBeouf as Commander Ultmer, William Shatner as Darth Roughshod, CG-Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Viceroy Pliff-Plaff, Will Smith as Yoda, Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool, Miley Cyrus as Hannah Montana, and Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow
Runtime 9:47:32
Rated G by the Motion Picture Association of America

Cartoon depiction of Jar Jar Binks holding a light saber. [Formatted]

Synopsis: After the Empire is defeated again by the Resistance, it conceives a new plan to build the Solar Annihilator, a super-maniacal ultra-weapon comprised of 12 Starkiller Bases and 103 Death Stars, all within the same solar system. The Solar Annihilator’s destructive power is unlike anything the universe has ever seen: each death satellite draws power from the nearby star and coordinates a destructive blast with the other 114 death satellites. The resulting force is so powerful that it would destroy the entire galaxy. The Empire is now completely unhinged and willing to defeat the Resistance at any cost, even if it means destroying themselves in the process.

After issuing its demands to the entire galaxy—that is, complete control over every living creature in existence by the Empire’s new leader, Darth Roughshod—the Resistance mounts an attack. Having found so much success in the past by destroying previous Empire super-weapons by blowing up their core, the Resistance Council instructs its top fighters to attempt to fly into the center of the system’s star and detonate a new type of explosive to trigger supernova expansion. This quickly proves to be a very poor strategy as many skilled pilots are incinerated in the beginning of the conflict. Bewildered, the Resistance suspends its attack and leaves the Solar Annihilator system to regroup, recruit support from more governments, and come up with a more effective plan to defeat the Empire.

Displeased that his troops were unable to defeat the Resistance, and that his opponent is gaining support from the rest of the galaxy, Darth Roughshod announces that he is going to fire the Solar Annihilator in 21 days and prove to everyone that he is more cruel and evil than any other Sith lord before, especially Darth Vader. Every advanced civilization supporting the Resistance decides to send their best and most experienced warriors in a unified effort to save the galaxy. Among these warriors are Chewbacca, Boba Fett’s brother Earla Fett, and Jar Jar Binks.

The Resistance finds that they will barely have enough time to get everyone to the Solar Annihilator before it fires, and that instead of blowing up the central star they will need to destruct every Starkiller Base and Death Star from the inside, one by one. Realizing how tedious this will be, and having to deal with so much petty bickering amongst the leaders of so many civilizations, the Resistance Council secretly begins to wonder if it might just be best to let the Empire destroy the galaxy. Morale is low, but the offensive is carried out anyway and a perilous star trek is made to the Solar Annihilator.

Upon arrival, Resistance fighters find that they only have seven hours to disable the ultra-weapon before it fires. They begin by blowing up Starkiller Bases and Death Stars in a series of dramatic, yet incredibly repetitive, cinematic sequences. After six and a half hours, only about half of the death satellites are destroyed. The Resistance Council hopes that this has been enough to prevent the destruction of the galaxy, but Darth Roughshod announces that with half the firepower he will still be able to destroy half the galaxy! His cruel chuckle echoes throughout space as he begins the firing sequence…

But there is an engineering malfunction somewhere in the array and the Solar Annihilator is unable to fire! Darth Roughshod becomes enraged and commands his top engineering staff to simultaneously swallow their own tongues, then he enters a Tie Fighter and joins the fray. Encouraged by this unexpected yet highly probable development, the Resistance doubles down on its attack and remounts its effort to destroy the horrible weapon. Jar Jar Binks, inspired by his fellow fighters, decides to enter an X-wing and join the battle.

Having never flown a ship before, Jar Jar nearly crashes into everything around him and manages to botch the attacks on three Death Stars. After much high-jinks intended for intellectually bereft children, Jar Jar finds himself near a Starkiller Base and sees that a portion of it is discharging electricity somewhat erratically. Darth Roughshod senses a disturbance in the force and flies to Jar Jar’s location. It is there that he finds the malfunctioning hyper-coupler and sends out a high-priority space-email to his remaining engineering staff, instructing them to replace the coupler immediately. The firing sequence begins again and half of the galaxy is destroyed!

Panicked and confused, Jar Jar begins pressing buttons randomly in his ship. This causes him to collide with Darth Roughshod and they both crash into the Starkiller Base. Jar Jar quickly finds another Tie fighter and escapes back to the Resistance mostly unharmed, but Darth Roughshod is nearly burned to death. The medical staff on the Starkiller Base, lacking the necessary instrumentation to stabilize the Sith lord’s condition, determines that the best way to save his life is to put him in one of Darth Vader’s spare suits. Darth Roughshod lives, but his commanders lose much respect for him because it confirms what they always suspected: that he is secretly trying to be Darth Vader. (Throughout the rest of the movie, his subordinates call him Lord Vader and snicker; he always corrects them by saying, “No! It’s Lord Roughshod, you fools!”)

The Resistance destroys or disables the remaining death satellites and returns to its headquarters. After reviewing the events that led to the destruction of half the galaxy, the council finds that this unimaginable devastation could have been avoided if Jar Jar Binks had not stolen an X-wing. They order his execution, and the complete eradication of the Gungan people, but through more high-jinks Jar Jar is able to escape to his home planet before they are able to arrest him.

Darth Roughshod learns of the Resistance’s plan and, feeling a profound mutual hatred for Jar Jar, agrees to help them in the extermination of the Gungans. The Resistance and Empire announce that they will be working together to ensure that Jar Jar is punished for his misdeeds and that such a calamity will never happen again.

Through the great stress of possibly losing his people, Jar Jar Binks begins to develop a special relationship with the force. Yoda visits him in visions and explains that everyone has turned to the dark side and he and the Gungans are the only ones who haven’t taken a path of evil. He constructs a light saber and, over the course of the next three weeks, becomes a master Jedi.

After the combined military forces of the Empire and Resistance arrive at the Gungan’s home world, Jar Jar meets Darth Roughshod and his four-pronged light saber. After a fierce battle, they both destroy one another’s light sabers. Unfortunately for Jar Jar, Darth Roughshod is a highly experienced UFC fighter and beats the living shit out of him and is then forced to swallow his own tongue. After Jar Jar’s death, the Jedi are once again destroyed and a final attack begins against the Gungans. But just when defeat seems inevitable, the Ewoks arrive to protect the Gungans and comedic violence ensues.

In the end, the the Ewoks are eradicated alongside Jar Jar’s people, and the universe erupts in joy. Balance is finally brought to the force and peace dawns for the remaining half of the Galaxy. War never occurs again until the end of time. Emperor Palpatine suddenly appears from out of nowhere, laughs and says, “It is done!”

Years later, the galaxy comes to understand that if not for Jar Jar, this new era of peace would not have been possible. Jar Jar and the Gungans are celebrated throughout the universe for their selfless behavior, bravery, and personal sacrifice. For the concluding scene, Mickey Mouse, Kermit the Frog, Deadpool, Hannah Montanna, and Captain Jack Sparrow join Darth Roughshod and they all begin singing If We Were a Movie icon-external-link-12x12 icon-search-12x12. This epic finale signals to the audience that Star Wars is finally over, forever.

Biased Technology and the Nerdification of Society

I had to reset my Android smartphone recently because it developed a number of strange issues, like group-text messages taking 30+ seconds to send, and apps consuming a bunch of storage space even after they were uninstalled. In the past, I had the autocorrect typing feature disabled because I found that it created more problems for me than it solved, but it was turned back on since the feature is enabled by default and the phone reverted back to all of its default settings.

For shits and giggles, I decided to leave autocorrect on for a while so that I could assess how effectively its correction and prediction algorithms complement the user experience. To put it another way, I left it on so I would have an opportunity to better understand how well it works—or how well it doesn’t work, depending on one’s point of view.

I soon discovered a notable peculiarity of the word prediction feature: it frequently exhibits a preference for words relating to nerd culture icon-external-link-12x12 over common English words. This came to my attention while having a text-based conversation with a friend via Skype. I accidentally typed “Luke” when I intended to type “Like”. This is a common mistake that is impossible for the algorithm to correct: the letter “u” is adjacent to the letter “i” on a standard keyboard, and “Luke” is a valid word/name, so what could it possibly do?

What surprised me though was that I found “Skywalker” appearing as the second of three word predictions offered by the algorithm, alongside the much more common English words “and” and “is”:

Suppose I was actually talking about a person named Luke—is it really okay that “Skywalker” is recommended over “was” or “would” or any other sentence-building words?

At first I wondered if society as a whole has become so strongly affected by pop-culture that the algorithm was actually correct in its prediction—that is, after typing the name “Luke”, people have been found to type “Skywalker” more frequently than “was” or “would”. If this is the case then that would mean there are more nerds on the planet in 2017 than non-nerds. Could this actually be true? Well, probably not… at least not yet. What’s more likely is that there is some mischievous programmer on the Android team at Google with a Darth Vader costume and large collection of battery operated light sabers who is having some fun at the expense of the rest of us.

I am not a fan of Star Wars and so I was quite irritated at this point. I started to wonder how much cumulative time might be lost by Android users because word prediction promulgates pop-culture instead of favoring utility. Google claims that there are more than 2 billion Android devices in use icon-external-link-12x12 , so if each person lost on average 2 seconds every day while texting due to biased and incorrect word suggestions then there would be ~46,296.3 days worth of lost time across the world every 24 hours.

I decided to test a few more words and names that have been assembled by the nerd-collective—“Mario”, “final” and “walking”. These were the results:

In each case, nerd culture is given preference over utility: “kart” and “bros” (which aren’t even real fucking words) are recommended for “Mario”; “fantasy” is recommended for “final”; and “dead” is recommended for “walking”.

So this is just one more reason for me to hate autocorrect icon-internal-link-12x12 , and also one more reason for me to hate Star Wars icon-internal-link-12x12 . Oh… and I don’t hate either as much as I hate the Church of Jedi icon-external-link-12x12 —these people would totally do something like this. I think we should lure all of these nutjobs into a space shuttle resembling the Millenium Vulcan and then shoot them into the darkest corner of space. (Perhaps this sounds cruel, but honestly… they would probably be okay with it.)

Needless to say, I have turned auto-correct back off.

Because Star Wars Isn’t Big Enough Already

Quentin Tarantino on Disney vs. ‘The Hateful Eight’ icon-external-link-12x12 icon-search-12x12 (from Howard Stern icon-external-link-12x12 icon-search-12x12 )

Intergalactic Beauty Products

Walgreens has a special right now on Star Wars-themed eye, lip and nail products by CoverGirl icon-external-link-12x12 icon-search-12x12 : buy one at full price and get the second for 50% off. So if you haven’t made a purchase yet, now seems to be as good a time as any.

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On a related note, the collector’s edition Chewbacca Shampoo and Conditioner by Pantene is apparently sold-out nationwide, but don’t panic—more shipments are expected to be arriving soon.