Kelly Marie Tran, who played Rose in Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi, is the latest victim of the ugly, toxic underbelly of Star Wars fan culture. While her Instagram account is still active, Tran recently deleted all her posts. The Twitter account Star Wars Facts stated that this has to do with the non-stop harassment she’s endured for the past several months.
According to NME, this harassment seemed to stem from Tran being both non-white and non-male, which seems to really upset these living embodiments of the worst stereotypes of fan culture. This is the same faction of “fans” (I use the term loosely) who previously drove Daisy Ridley away from Instagram, drove Hayden Christensen from acting, and drove Jake Lloyd to the brink. All because they don’t live up to some imaginary expectation of what they wrongly assume Star Wars should be.
It makes matters worse that Tran seems to be a genuinely delightful person. In the weeks after The Last Jedi hit theaters, there were stories of Tran overhearing fans’ conversations about the film, which she eagerly joined in. Hell, she was so excited about getting to be in a Star Wars movie, let alone the first woman of color in a major role, that she went around buying all the Star Wars toys she could find.
Tran’s harassment goes back to December when The Last Jedi had only been in theaters a few days. Her character’s entry on Wookieepedia was briefly altered into a tirade of racist bullshit. In fact, the movie had only been in theaters for a couple of days before piece-of-shit Paul Ray Ramsay took aim at her appearance. I won’t link to Ramsay’s tweet, but you can view it here without giving that asshole any more attention he so desperately craves.
It speaks to the much larger problem on a whole: the plague of toxic fandom. You see it in all the major franchises, from the MCU to the DCEU, but one that Star Wars has faced the brunt of for far too long. Now, Tran appears to be the latest victim who has to isolate herself from (I’d like to believe) the vast majority of Star Wars enthusiasts who welcome a more diverse cast of characters in their ever-expanding universe. After all, this is a sci-fi franchise that incorporates hundreds of planets and alien species. God for-fucking-bid the franchise casts anyone other than a white male in a prominent role.
Here’s the thing: Star Wars is for everyone. Or, at least, everyone who wants to be a part of it. These movies single-handedly created the summer blockbuster. They’re part of our collective imagination. They don’t belong to an angry subset of myopic pricks who eagerly declare that inclusion results in some kind of fundamental attack on their pathetic, angry, white male identities.
Tran deserves better. Ridley, John Boyega, and every other actor from the franchise who’s been attacked for being a non-white male deserves better. Ultimately, Star Wars as a whole deserves better.