The Last Jedi had legions of loyal fans who loved the movie and its place inside the Star Wars universe.
However, on the other side of that coin were legions of fans who took their disdain for one character in particular and put it on the actress who played her.
Rose Tico, who was played by Vietnamese actress Kelly Marie Tran, became the source of the worst type of internet fandom when Star Wars fans bullied her over their hatred of the role. Fans on Reddit recently came to the actress’s defense, however.
Who is Kelly Marie Tran?
According to IMDb, Tran was born and raised in Southern California. From her youngest days., she has dreams of making it big in Hollywood. While she was on the come-up, Tran worked jobs at Burger King and yogurt shops to try to raise money to get to the next level.
After graduating from UCLA with a degree in communications, her career began to take off slowly.
Tran’s earliest work was in CollegeHumor videos and some TV work. As she tried to make her name, she worked with the Upright Citizens Brigade at The Second City. There, she formed a comedy group called Number One Son. In the meantime, Tran began to audition for other work. Little did she know that this would land her into one of the biggest franchises ever. She was cast in The Last Jedi in 2015.
Before the movie even began to film, the fact that an Asian-American woman was in the Star Wars universe was huge. She began to get notice beyond the improv scene. However, a particular section of Star Wars fans saw castings such as hers as forced diversity that didn’t serve a purpose.
Despite all the fanfare, the hatred started before the movie, too. The result turned a beautiful moment into a complicated one.
Kelly Marie Tran on cyberbullying
Fans of Star Wars had a love-hate relationship with the latest trilogy. One sticking point that they had was the way that Tran’s Rose Tico not only failed to further her side of the story but made a significant mistake near the end of the movie.
Rather than chop this up to writing, however, one set of fans attacked Tran directly. She was inundated with hateful messages on Instagram to the point where she deleted social media.
Tran spoke about how this affected her and compared it to her place as an Asian American growing up in America in a piece for The New York Times.
“I had been brainwashed into believing that my existence was limited to the boundaries of another person’s approval…. I had been tricked into thinking that my body was not my own, that I was beautiful only if someone else believed it, regardless of my own opinion. I had been told and retold this by everyone: by the media, by Hollywood, by companies that profited from my insecurities, manipulating me so that I would buy their clothes, their makeup, their shoes, in order to fill a void that was perpetuated by them in the first place.”
Fed up with the idea that she was less qualified to be in the movies due to her race, Tran did not go off into the sunset. Instead, she used it to her advantage.
On top of returning for The Rise of Skywalker, Tran turned her Star Wars fame into several other jobs, from her television series Sorry for Your Loss to upcoming voice work in The Croods: A New Age and Disney’s own Raya and the Last Dragon.
Looking back on all she went through. However, fans on Reddit had enough with the toxic subset that took out Rose on the actress, herself.
‘Star Wars’ fans speak out
Although fans can often be lumped into one group, a fanbase as large as Star Wars has many sections. While it is easy to focus on the negatives, many fans came to Tran’s defense.
In a Reddit thread, fans were more judgmental of the bullies, as well as JJ Abrams. User u/ReverendPalpatine saw Abrams’ usage of Rose Tico in Episode IX as a direct response to the trolling, albeit in the wrong way. Tico was practically non-existent in the movie’s plot.
“I will never understand the hate for this character and I will never understand why the filmmakers chose to listen to the internet and basically leave her out of TROS.
She’s a mechanic and couldn’t go on the adventure in the Falcon and fix it every time it breaks every 5 minutes? Instead they got an armless alien that has no lines instead.”
Fellow Redditor u/jayive35 didn’t like Tico’s character but hated seeing Tran get abused for its faults.
“I understand the hate for the character, but not for the actress. It’s not her fault her character was garbage.”
As much emphasis is given to the wrong side of this, the positive side is that fans came to Tran’s defense at the time and continue to do so. All art as big as Star Wars will cause primary discourse, but sometimes that goes above and beyond what’s on the screen.
This is when fans like these can come in and help ease the struggles of those who get attacked.
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