Kelly Marie Tran, as Rose Tico, being cut down to less than two minutes of screen time is one of the most frustrating aspects of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and that’s saying something.
The character of Rose Tico is a controversial one in the Star Wars universe for a myriad of reasons, but the racist, sexist, and traumatic experience Tran dealt with on social media was disgusting. We’ve seen it happen to John Boyega, as well, but unlike Tran, he remained on social media and has been able to enjoy himself in spite of it.
What’s worse is putting an exact number on the amount of screentime. Violet Kim, over at Slate, pulled out her stopwatch and put things on a more numerical scale:
Just how bad is it? I conducted an investigation, watching both The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker with my finger poised over a stopwatch app. And while I noticed Rose’s glaring lack of a presence, the results surprised even me: In The Rise of Skywalker’s 2 hours and 22 minutes, she appears for just 1 minute and 16 seconds, give or take a few seconds.
Even 1:16 is a fairly liberal appraisal—while I tried to be strict about only letting the timer run when Rose was actually onscreen, my definition of “onscreen” was generous. For example, I included the scene at the end where she hugs Chewbacca at the Rebel base, although it’s possible to argue that she wasn’t quite in the foreground of the action. I was so alert for any sign of Rose that I even included the part where she is only seen in (partial) profile staring intently at Poe while he speaks.
The impact of Tran’s part in The Last Jedi can’t be measured in time alone, but even so, the different is stark: Rose appears on screen for 10 minutes and 53 seconds of The Last Jedi’s 2 hours and 32 minutes.”
I’m not going to argue with you about whether you like Rose Tico or not, because that truly doesn’t matter. What we are talking about is the larger issue of representation in Star Wars and pandering to internet trolls. Rose Tico and her sister were the first major female Asian leads in a Star Wars film that weren’t alien coded creatures or appropriations of Asian garb on an ambiguous face. Rose got to represent a whole demographic of Star Wars fans who have had their culture actively taken and watered down to add elements of “flavor” to the Jedi and Force mythos.
Is Rose a perfect character? No, but again, as we have a literal sea of underwritten and, I’d argue, mediocre characters in this sequel series, what did Rose do that was so terrible that it means she gets less to do than Dominic Monaghan? Also, wanting more for Rose doesn’t mean we wanted her to take up 2/3 of the movie. I understand that she’s not one of the main four characters, but if they can make time for J.J. Abrams’ friend to come and die, introduce a new character like Jannah, and retcon The Last Jedi, then they can show Rose at least helping fix the ship, fix C3PO, or at the very least being an active part of the rebellion.
For a series that wants to get points for diversity and representation, they simply are not good at it.
— Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) December 21, 2019
(via Slate, image: Disney)
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