Kelly Marie Tran was a mostly unknown actress until she landed the part of Rose in Star Wars: The Last Jedi (SW8EP8).
As I have written, Rose the character, was three points short of useless and completely unnecessary. A simple explanation of the plan to the heroes would have avoided a lot of bad film-making, and absurdly convoluted actions and plot MacGuffins..
That is Rose, the character.
As I also wrote, Kelly Marie Tran did a fine job with the role. And now it seems that some so-called Star Wars fans have decided to harass and intimidate her to the point of leaving social media (Instagram, specifically). Remember, the character sucked, the acting did not (or, not beyond the level of the usual Lucas-style direction, but that is on the director). I don’t want to repeat this, but it really seems like there are a lot of people missing the point.
Character bad. Actor not bad.
This is part of the problem in fandom these days. We have come to believe that creators are somehow beholden to us…no, that isn’t it. That we, the fans, control the property they created. Hint: we don’t. We didn’t when Vader was revealed as Luke’s father (and yes, that was hotly debated at the time), we didn’t when Lucas gave us Jar-Jar Binks and the wildly racist Trade Federation, we didn’t when needless works like ‘Shadows of the Empire’ happened…or the Yuuzhan Vong dropped a moon on Chewbacca. We didn’t at any of these points, and still don’t.
Yes, we have the right to have expectations, to be disappointed, angry, frustrated, or hurt when things go in ways we don’t like. Yes, we have the right to complain about this, and wail and cry about it. Yes, we have the right, and perhaps even duty, to hold the creator responsible for their creation, and if we feel that their vision is too far from our own, we have the right to be mad, and quit consuming the content.
But we do not, ever, have the right to demand that the creators follow our vision of their creation. Their. Creation. Not yours, not mine, not ours. Theirs.
Part of that creation is including the characters they want to include. If that means characters we find annoying, unwelcome, unattractive, or whatever, that’s our problem, not theirs. And they don’t have to apologize for it. So, when Rose Tico was added to the plot and script of The Last Jedi, we had no say in that. Rightly. When Kelly Marie Tran was cast to play the part, we had no say in that. Also rightly. When the character turned out to be a poorly drawn, unnecessary, and ill-conceived part of the movie, we had no say in that either. But that is anger, disappointment, frustration, or whatever at a character. Attaching it to an actor is crossing a line.
Star Wars fandom has had this issue for some time now. From the irrational hate directed at Jake Lloyd to the current vitriol directed at Daisy Ridley and Kelly Marie Tran, there is a dark side to this fandom. I believe this is symptomatic of a larger problem in the SF/F community as a whole, but that’s another post for another time. In the SW universe, fans have the annoying habit of believing they are owed something.
Pro Tip: We. Aren’t.
Look, short of those who devote large sections of their lives to this, I am one of the biggest SW fans out there. It was the first movie I ever saw, in 1977. So, yeah, it is a thing. And yes, I was not in love with the prequels, or Last Jedi. And yes, I want a higher grade product, and have my own ideas on where the series and property should go. Like any fan. And, like the vast majority of us, I understand that I am not being consulted, and have precisely no control over this. Some folk didn’t get the memo.
So what to do about this? Really, the only thing we can do is confront it head on. And not just people attacking actors for choices and such not their own. Confront people who insist that any creative property bend to their will. Remind them that if they want that, they need to create it, and while criticism and venting is good, and welcome, there is a line. It is hard to see, sometimes, but it is there. We, as fans, have a responsibility to police ourselves, and find ways to make the best of low-quality product (including celebrating high-quality product more than we bemoan low-quality). We need to do this because we stand to loose more than the creators do.
What would Star Wars Celebration be without guests? Think about that. If we, as the mainline fandom, allow the lunatic fringe to push the actors away (and once them, who is next?), why would they appear anywhere for the fans? Of course, they get paid, and it may even be in their contracts, so there is that motivation. But do you think that Kelly Marie Tran, if she is cast in a future SF/F property, will have that included? Force her to meet the fans…many of whom would be gracious and welcoming, but who may have come to scream at her? Would you do that? I wouldn’t.
So, be passionate about the property. Be engaged in the community. But don’t be toxic. Don’t attack actors for the sins of the writers or directors. Don’t be a dick.