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  • Writer's pictureLoren Javier

#TeamKellyMarieTran, #TeamRoseTico And Bullying

Photo: Michi Contreras

I hate to follow up a celebratory blog post about an amazing Disney fan event and turn to the Dark Side of the Force and talk about something horrible. I was reading that Kelly Marie Tran, who played Rose Tico in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, has wiped her Instagram account because a small, but vocal, number of so-called "fanboys" decided to harass her with racist and sexist comments all because they didn't like the character she played. The harassment, sadly, is not a new story as she has faced horrid comments since the beginning. But it makes me sad that she is now unable to share her fun photos on Instagram. She left us followers with the sentence "Afraid, but doing it anyway. 🦁"

So Rose might not be your cup of tea, what gives you the right to harass the woman who played her? To scare her not to play the character anymore? Does it feel good to be a bully? One of the things I hate most in the world is bullying. She is an actor who was cast in a role. She did not write or create Rose. Yet, some fanboys feel they have some kind of power behind the comfort of their own computer to spew whatever hatred they want. And it is disgusting.

Even I have been attacked a couple of times online when I expressed my love of seeing an Asian American woman in a major role in Star Wars. A couple of guys kept haranguing me about why I thought she was important and that Lucasfilm just cast an Asian to "appease diversity" (an actual quote. Like diversity is a person). When I told them that, as an Asian American who grew up with very few role models in the media, she was important to me. Then, they started asking, "So, a white man can't be a role model to you?" What a ridiculous question. Of course they can. People of all colors, genders, ages, and so on can be role models. As a Star Wars fan, I looked up to Luke Skywalker. He was white. And he had my heart. That said, I would have been even more thrilled if George Lucas cast him of Asian descent because I am Asian American. But, these so-called fans don't get that. They feel so entitled that only they can be the ones to judge what should be in Star Wars and what shouldn't. I watched that movie over 100 times in the theater when it first came out, so I am as entitled to Star Wars as anybody else. And, I LOVE ROSE.

Photo: Disney/Lucasfilm

And, when I posted a blog about wanting to see more diversity in the Star Wars characters we meet at Disney Parks, one guy accosted me on facebook spewing racist sentiment and telling me that I asking for it because I promoted the entry. I was asking for it? I suppose they believe Kelly Marie Tran was "asking" to be harassed because she took a role. It must be nice to have that kind of privilege. It was nice to be able to block him because I won't allow that kind of language on any of my social media.

It's so interesting to me that these so-called fans are obsessed with a franchise literally built on the fight against oppression in a diverse universe, yet they are the oppressors who hate a diverse universe. 

Some people did not like The Last Jedi because it didn't meet their expectations and because everything has to be spelled out for them. They think Rose did not serve a purpose in the film and, because of that, they felt that took away time from explaining who Snoke was and who Rey's parents are. Once again, I'd like to remind everybody that we didn't know a lot of things to come when we watched Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, the middle of a trilogy. But, there are those who believe her race was to blame to fill a "diversity quota." I'm sure if the Internet existed then, some fans would have blamed the lack of answers in the original trilogy on Lando Calrissian.

Photo: Disney/Lucasfilm

In response to some hateful comments so-called fans made when it posted Kelly Marie Tran's casting audition, the official Star Wars facebook page defended Rose Tico's importance to the story and the saga:

"Prevented four Resistance deserters from stealing escape pods. Assisted in the formation of a plan that would've allowed the Resistance to escape the First Order pursuit. Persuaded a fathier stable boy to enable her and Finn's escape from Canto Bight. Conducted an essential survey of available supplies available to the Resistance on Crait. Saved Finn from an inconsequential course of action that would've ended his life. For a character who did absolutely nothing, that's impressive... most impressive."

Most impressive indeed.

People are going to disagree with that. People are going to disagree with me. However, can we have more civil conversations and leave the racism aside. I know that is a tall order, especially in a nation that's so divided right now. But, for God sake, can we try to separate fantasy and reality? Bullying people is never the right thing to do and the anti-thesis to Star Wars.

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