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Why Exactly is Rose Tico Being Removed From Star Wars Merchandise?

Where's Rose?

Disney is at it again with the merchandising shenanigans and Star Wars fans are calling them out. Last Friday was a special day for fans of that galaxy far, far away: Force Friday. It’s when new Star Wars Merchandise is revealed and this time it was a triple Force Friday as Disney unveiled products to promote the video game, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, the Disney+ series The Mandalorian, and the conclusion of the new trilogy, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

But that excitement was dampened when fans noticed that the new Rise of Skywalker merchandise was not only sorely lacking in Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran), but it looks like her image was actually removed from various designs.

This isn’t the first time that fans have noticed a conspicuous lack of a character in merchandise. There was serious controversy over the lack of Rey in the original Force Awakens merchandise, though some claimed she was left off so as not to spoil that she was the new Jedi hero. However, the exclusion of Rose Tico, is extra insidious, given the racist and misogynist response to her character in the past and the horrible treatment of Kelly Marie Tran by so called Star Wars “fans.” Even though Rose is a great character, Tran has been a consistent target of trolls, so much so that she’s been driven off social media. And now she’s being pushed off merchandise? Why?

Here’s more examples:

This last example, where Rose has been erased from a poster and replaced by some slug alien we’ve never seen? Super-duper bad and insulting. Not only is this erasing a woman, but a barrier-breaking woman of color who’s been publicly attacked just for daring to be female and non-white in Star Wars. It’s a bad look.

So why is Rose not in these posters and merch? Is Disney daving to the trolls? Are they hiding a spoiler? My first, terrified thought was that she’s not in the film very much and might be killed off early on. She did end The Last Jedi in distress and Rose is no where to be found in the two trailers we’ve seen for Rise of Skywalker. We have only seen her in one still from Rise of Skywalker so far, however. So there’s some hope.

Rose tice and Rey in rise of skywalker

Is the erasure of Rose the work of a stupid executive somewhere, or does it hint at something even worse: the erasure of Rose Tico from the next film all together? We hope it’s just bad marketing decisions and that we’ll learn “where’s Rose?” sooner rather than later. We’ll also have to see how they handle the merchandising for Jhanna, played by  Naomi Ackie. As a black woman, she’s also breaking barriers in Star Wars, so let’s hope that the executives and the fans learn something and don’t screw up there too.

(image: Disney/Lucasfilm. via Nerdist)

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Jessica Mason is a writer based in Portland, Oregon with a focus on fandom, queer representation and amazing women in film and television. She's a trained lawyer and opera singer as well a mom and author.