Has the Star Wars fandom become toxic?
By Joe Harker
Well done Star Wars fans, you've chased actress Kelly Marie Tran off Instagram after months of abuse and harassment.
Imagine loving Star Wars then learning you're going to be given a major role in one of the films, then getting a torrent of abuse every time you post on social media from people who ostensibly identify as fans of the series. After a few months it's no wonder she deleted all her posts, just like Daisy Ridley did back in 2016. Why celebrate something when the people who should be celebrating it with you are hurling abuse?
Tran plays Rose Tico in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The film has something of a reputation for splitting Star Wars fans and the character of Rose in particular has been criticised. However, much of the criticism is less about the film and characters and more about gender and ethnicity. Alt-right trolls edited the film to cut all women out of it and Tran's page on Wookieepedia was altered to include racial slurs.
The cast and crew of The Last Jedi have rallied around Tran, with director Rian Johnson calling out "disingenuous bullshit" from trolls who tried to claim they were criticising the film and character rather than taking the chance to abuse the actress. He said: "You know the difference between not liking a movie and hatefully harassing a woman so bad she has to get off social media.
"And you know which of those two we're talking about here."
Toxic fans may also be putting people off loving Star Wars. Writing for iO9, Charles Pulliam-Moore believes he will never be able to love the series because some fans display a "feverish fanaticism" that is a detriment to others.
You might not like the character and you might not like the film. That doesn't disqualify you from being a fan of Star Wars, not everything must be met with adoration and a wholly positive reception. You are allowed to dislike something and explain your reasoning behind your reaction. But if that dislike is mired in racism and sexism then the problem isn't the character, the actress or the film, it's you.
Bombarding the actresses social media posts with abuse until she deletes them isn't some victory, it's taking a person who loves Star Wars to a point where they've had enough of communicating with the fans. You're not the Rebel Alliance, fighting to take back your galaxy from the Empire, you're the Stormtroopers.