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The Treatment of Kelly Marie Tran Exposes the Worst Elements of Fandom

Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico and John Boyega as Finn in Star Wars: The Last Jedi (image: Disney/Lucasfilm)

Even before the polarizing backlash against The Last Jedi, actress Kelly Marie Tran, who played Rose Tico in the film, was the subject of racist and sexist harassment. Still, it was surprising when Tran’s Instagram account vanished today. While no official statement has been made by Tran, many of us have seen it as a response to that horrible treatment.

And this is the thing I don’t get: you can dislike Rose as a character, but why does that have to translate into racism and sexist language directed at an actress? Do you realize she did not write the character? She is performing a role and if you want to complain about how terrible you think her arc in the movie was, fine—it doesn’t mean going into her accounts and harassing her.

Or going to Wookiepedia and editing her character’s page to have racist, ableist comments.

Racist Rose Fandom

(via screengrab)

Whenever fanboys have a kneejerk reaction to defend themselves and their fandom from generalizations of not being inclusive, I must ask: what are you doing to stop this kind of behavior?

Because from how it looks over here, it seems as though these “fans” have a huge chip on their shoulder about properties trending toward inclusivity. Not only is this reaction disheartening as someone who enjoys Star Wars, but it is also, sadly, unsurprising. I’ve seen plenty of non-white female characters get crapped on for less, and seeing it done to Rose hurts because it does not have to be this way.

Thankfully, there is pushback not only from other SW fans but also from TLJ director, Rian Johnson.

The inability for fandom as a collective to discuss non-white characters without having to go into racist micro-aggressive language has been a problem from the beginning and has only been highlighted more explicitly by social media.

Here is the thing, for those of you who are not racist and also dislike Rose Tico or TLJ for legitimate writing reasons, especially if you are white and male: you need to come and collect these people.

That doesn’t mean you need to call them out with abusive language or bring their mamas into it, but it’s time to call a racist a racist, a sexist a sexist, and stop trying to be nice or leaving that battle up the marginalized members of fandom. These sort of fans are making you look bad. They are perpetuating stereotypes about you, and everytime you let one of them slide because you agree with them about hating TLJ, your legitimate concerns are being pooled in with the dreck.

Stop adopting and supporting hate speech and micro-aggression to make a point about a movie. White, male, cis Star Wars fans, you need to check your fandom.

And to all the people who think their racism is funny, you should have gone out to see Solo and actually supported your mostly white and male-cast Star Wars nostalgia movie.

It will forever astound me that science-fiction and fantasy, which is filled with stories and narratives about “The Other” and empathy and looking beyond our superficial images of people, can also be such a Petri dish for racism and sexism. It’s like you really don’t “get” sci-fi and fantasy.

We have reached out to Ms. Tran for comment and will update if we hear back.

(image: Lucasfilm/Disney)

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Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.