So anyone who knows me knows one simple truth: I’m a huge Star Wars fan. I’ve seen all the movies, multiple times. Luke Skywalker was my first crush. I have a very large collection of Expanded Universe novels. While The Last Jedi was not my favorite Star Wars offering, I still enjoyed it… especially the character of Rose Tico, lovingly portrayed by Kelly Marie Tran.
Imagine my surprise and disgust, therefore, to learn that so-called “fans” have been harassing Kelly Marie Tran on social media to the point of driving her offline. Rose Tico was one of the best things about The Last Jedi, but fans have decried her for one (stupid) reason or another.
Even worse, they’ve taken their (baseless) hatred of a character out on the actress who portrays her. This is especially egregious because Kelly Marie Tran has been an absolute angel since hitting it big in The Last Jedi. The thought that anyone would want to harass her is, frankly, sickening.
So we at The Daily Fandom would like to counteract some of this vitriol with our unabashed, undying love for Kelly Marie Tran and for Rose Tico. Maybe one day she’ll see the love, and feel more welcomed. Maybe she won’t, who knows. But hopefully, other fans will read on and see just why Kelly Marie Tran is an angel who deserves absolutely ZERO hate.
Okay, first off, let’s discuss the character. For some reason, a lot of Star Wars fans really dislike Rose Tico. I’m not sure why; personally, I thought she was a definite highlight of The Last Jedi. So why do fans hate the newcomer?
If one wanted to give Rose-haters the benefit of the doubt, you could argue that a lot of the backlash comes down to poor writing. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I think The Last Jedi gets a lot wrong. Part of what it gets wrong is that the movie is cluttered and tries to do too much.
Rose-haters argue that her storyline was pointless and added nothing to the movie. Given that Rose and Finn’s mission to Canto Bight ended up accomplishing nothing, there is almost a point there. We invested a lot of time into their mission that seems to have had no impact on the film.
But that argument ignores the real impact of the Rose and Finn plot-line. Yes, they failed to accomplish their mission to stop the First Order from tracking them. But they still made a difference. Rose helps Finn see the importance of defying the First Order. She gets him to see the truth of their darkness and inspires him to fully believe in the cause.
Rose also inspires others. The fathier escape on Canto Bight is criticized for being disjarring, pointless, and a waste of time. But Rose’s affection and sympathy for the creatures connects her to a fathier stableboy. She gives him a Rebellion ring and inspires him to perhaps one day rebel. Given that we see that boy later use the Force, Rose may be inspiring future Jedi.
The Real Reason
Of course, that logic will have no effect on Rose-haters because, for the most part, they are not deserving of the benefit of the doubt. They may espouse similar ideas; they often argue that Rose’s story is the reason they hate the character. That is fundamentally not true.
The real reason there is such a backlash to Rose Tico is that of what she represents in terms of diversity and representation. For all that science-fiction as a genre is about supporting others and feeling empathy, the Star Wars fandom tends towards vitriolic hate against anything seen as progressive.
Kelly Marie Tran, and by extension, Rose Tico, represent a lot of progressions. Rose is the first major Asian female character in Star Wars. Kelly Marie Tran is Vietnamese-American, so her casting was a big deal in terms of diversity. She brought much needed new life to a stagnant, cripplingly white franchise.
That’s the real reason that toxic fans are hating on her character. They are upset at how diverse the new trilogy is. We’ve already seen backlash against Finn for being black and Rey for being female. To bring in a woman of color is, apparently, an unforgivable sin. Never mind that Rose’s character is fantastic. She’s not a white guy, therefore, she must be hated.
Don’t listen when fans try to tell you they really care about the writing. That’s bullshit. If it were only about the plot, they would not be using racist language to describe the character. And they would never have come for Kelly Marie Tran if it was only about the story. Don’t let them hide their truth: they’re being toxic, horrid racists.
Kelly Marie Tran Deserves Our Love, Not Hate
Of course, the clearest sign that these toxic fans are being bigoted shows in their treatment of the actress. Kelly Marie Tran had no impact on the story. She did not write Rose Tico. She only acted what she was given. If it were solely about the story, fans would be hating on Rian Johnson, not Kelly Marie Tran.
But of course they are being bigoted, so they turned their vitriol on Kelly Marie Tran as well. She faced a lot of harassment from fans who felt some bizarre desire to show her that she was not welcomed. Which is, of course, utter bullshit. The majority of fans, even if they didn’t like The Last Jedi, can appreciate Kelly Marie Tran as a person. Because the majority of fans aren’t racist assholes (they’re just the loudest, unfortunately).
Because, the truth is, Kelly Marie Tran is a nerd goddess. She lights up red carpets and interviews with her effervescent personality and beaming smile. She seems so ecstatic to be a part of something like Star Wars, which only makes it worse that Star Wars fans have driven her away.
It’s that excitement that really drives home how toxic fan culture can be. Kelly Marie Tran was like us. She was a fan, overjoyed at her good fortune in being a part of something she loves. For fuck’s sake, she dressed up like a porg for Halloween. She handmade a porg costume because she loved Star Wars that much. How could you not love her?
Remember Rose’s Lesson
To know that that love and joy has been sapped away by toxic fans is beyond troubling. Kelly Marie Tran is a beautiful ray of joy and light. We drove her away. To be fair, many of us never said a terrible thing. I’ve even been outspoken about how much I love Kelly Marie Tran/Rose Tico.
But it is still up to us to take ownership of our fandom. Star Wars fans, it’s up to us to prove that not every fan is toxic. It’s up to us to show our love for Kelly Marie Tran — and other characters/actors who are slighted by the toxic minority. It’s on us, now to prove that we are better than this. Spread the love, not hate.
Remember what Rose said in The Last Jedi:
“that’s how we’re going to win… not fighting what we hate, but saving what we love.”
Love is the important part of being a fan. You are a fan because you love something. Hold on to that love. Spread that love. Together, we can take down the hate that has poisoned our fandom — and that’s how we’ll win.