Learning to like Watto from ‘Star Wars,’ for all his horribleness


The “Star Wars” prequel trilogy gave us many weird things. There’s the obvious inclusion of Jar-Jar Binks and the integration of midichlorians into the “Star Wars” canon. But there are also things like the usual 1950’s-themed diner that briefly appears in “Attack of the Clones,” or the fact that a large portion of the trilogy has an unusual dedication to space-politics.

But there comes a point where you grow to enjoy these things, like the podracing from “The Phantom Menace.” In addition to the numerous mechanical designs and well-composed music score, another thing I liked from the prequel trilogy was Watto, a character who appears in “The Phantom Menace.”

Watto, between his greed and large schnoz, looks like a 1930s German stereotype of a Jewish person. His nose, closely resembling that of a tapir, is punctuated by two short tusks that poke out from his lower jaw. He implausibly can fly – despite his wings flapping at a somewhat conservative pace. On top of this, he literally enslaves children, including Anakin “Darth Vader” Skywalker.

And yet he’s likable, in the same way that Jar-Jar is likable. I like both characters because of how horribly they are written and designed. Watto even wears a cap in “Attack of the Clones” that looks uncannily similar to a Jewish kippah – this second appearance in the prequel trilogy certainly did not help with Watto’s quasi-antisemitic image.

It’s such an amazing mix of horribleness that you can’t even say this is laziness or incompetence. Watto is initially an orchestrated disaster only redeemed by his pseudo-Yiddish accent. On the other hand, he’s a remarkable character in “Star Wars: Episode I Racer,” “Star Wars: Racer Revenge” and in “Star Wars Math: Jabba’s Game Galaxy,” but Watto is still hilariously bad.

Much like the podraces he is involved with, Watto himself takes a podium finish – for being one of the worst characters of the prequels, only outdone by everyone’s favorite Gungan warrior. And with that, I leave you with one of Watto’s most notable lines from “The Phantom Menace,” in which he says, “No money, no parts, no deal!”

Max Engel is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at max.engel@uconn.edu.

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