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On Rose and Trolls

Posted by Ta-metru_defender , in Essays, Not Rants! Jun 09 2018 · 169 views

Essays, Not Rants! 324: On Rose and Trolls

The internet is often a place as terrible as it is wonderful. This past week, Kelly Marie Tran, who played Rose in The Last Jedi, left Instagram (and social media in general) after months of sexist and racist harassment. Months.

This isn’t the first time this sort of thing has happened. Daisy Ridley (aka: Rey) left Instagram for much the same reason. Back in 2016 I wrote about Chelsea Cain leaving Twitter after being bullied for writing Mockingbird. This outpouring of toxicity from so-called fans is nothing new. But I think, as in an incident like this, there’s a conflation of criticism and bullying that creates this awful trolling.

First, a word on trolls: these are folks who make other people feel terrible for sport. That being a racist, sexist dirtbag helps is secondary. There have been trolls about as long as there’s been an internet, but as women and people of color have developed more of a presence online, trolling targeted at race and/or gender has become far more pronounced. Trolls are the people who bullied Kelly Marie Tran off of Instagram. The question here isn’t why these people do what they do, it’s what gives the fuel for what they do.

The Last Jedi merrily deconstructs a lot of the Star Wars saga. Director Rian Johnson torches much of what we expect from a Star Wars film, like making Luke into a guilt-ridden recluse and questioning the need for Jedi. This is a movie that subverts a lot of expectations for the film and feels no need to appease whatever it is a fanboy might want. As Kylo Ren says, it’s time to let the past die, and that means letting go of a lotta ideas of what a Star Wars movie has.

Now, Rose has proven a pretty controversial character in an already controversial movie. She is Star Wars’ anti-establishment, anti-militarism bent at its most pronounced, a character disgusted by the military industrial complex present on Canto Bight. She’s an idealist, a character archetype that’s falling out of vogue in the tendency for stories to be cynical and gritty. Her arc culminates in stopping Finn’s suicide run, saying to save what they love instead of fighting what they hate. More than anything, she’s someone who genuinely believes in the Resistance making the galaxy a better place, and not in it for the vainglorious fight against the First Order (like Poe), or Finn’s need to save himself (as she’s foiled against). Depending on who you ask, she’s a welcome addition to the franchise or a cheesy character who adds nothing. Obviously, I’m of the former opinion (I am here for idealists!). There’s also the fact that she’s played by an Asian woman, and we need more non-sexualized Asian women in genre fiction.

But if people have an issue with The Last Jedi and what it does with Star Wars, Rose is an easy scapegoat. She’s another addition to the saga’s stable of heroic characters who aren’t white guys and she’s a source of romantic idealism in a movie that’s rather bleak. If you’re someone mad at a perceived "social justice agenda" that’s ruining the movies, here’s a sure sign of it all. And then this negativism feeds the trolls and then the lines between criticism and bullying get blurred. Trolls can claim they’re just criticizing Rose and The Last Jedi and any criticism of the film can be grouped in with the trolling.

And it’s awful, and that really goes without saying. Because, again, Kelly Marie Tran is absolutely wonderful as Rose, but even if she wasn’t, even if The Last Jedi sucked, that doesn’t give anyone the right to be a jerk on the internet. When it comes down to it, the vitriol she’s faced online stems from the sexism and racism still entrenched in much of nerd culture (see also: anytime comics attempt to diversify, Anita Sarkeesian and video games). It’s inexcusable, plain and simple. And I don’t know what the solution is, besides people not being terrible human beings. Maybe one day diversity will become so normal that people won’t have the need to pick on people for being different.

But really, shouldn’t it be like that already?

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Good post!

While I'll admit that Finn and Rose's sidequest had lots of issues (as well as the movie as a whole) Rose was still my favorite new character. I want to see more of her in the next film.

:music:
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Ballom Nom Nom
Jun 09 2018 02:37 PM
"Her arc culminates in stopping Finn’s suicide run, saying to save what they love instead of fighting what they hate."

Except, since no one knew Luke was going to save the day, from the characters' perspective all she did was ruin their one remaining hope (i.e. Finn's kamikaze attack on the ram allowing the Resistance in hiding to survive by giving them more time).

I like Kelly Marie Tran and Rose's character, but that final scene with her was dreadful.

Obviously this has nothing to do with people being horrid to Tran on the Internet. But that scene in TLJ really bugged me, and I think it should have just been cut entirely.
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"Her arc culminates in stopping Finn’s suicide run, saying to save what they love instead of fighting what they hate."

Except, since no one knew Luke was going to save the day, from the characters' perspective all she did was ruin their one remaining hope (i.e. Finn's kamikaze attack on the ram allowing the Resistance in hiding to survive by giving them more time).

I like Kelly Marie Tran and Rose's character, but that final scene with her was dreadful.

Obviously this has nothing to do with people being horrid to Tran on the Internet. But that scene in TLJ really bugged me, and I think it should have just been cut entirely.

Not to mention this is a movie that wants you to CELEBRATE one suicide run and then five minutes later get lectured on how it is wrong. Expectations subverted, I guess!

 

I hated the movie and I hate even more all the "you just don't GET it" or "it is GOOD to make a film with no plot or consistency with the prior film as long as it does something DIFFERENT" or whatever posts and articles. But the movie being an absolutely terrible Star Wars film and barely a coherently plotted film isn't the actress' fault. The people harassing ANYONE online for this are showing their internal colours as not angry fans- but as bad PEOPLE. I hate that my dislike for this bad movie is lumped in with their vocal racist and sexist complaints because it gives everyone who wants to pretend this is some high-brow Star Wars film license to ignore all complaints- but I hate those terrible people more than I hate this terrible movie. There is no room for sexism or racism in these films or commentary on them.

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Ballom Nom Nom
Jun 10 2018 12:03 AM
Well, in terms of opinion on the movie as a whole, I still really liked it (although the casino subplot was pretty weak and superfluous overall) -- definitely one of my top three favorite Star Wars movies. To each their own, though.
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Ta-metru_defender
Jun 10 2018 10:45 AM

 

"Her arc culminates in stopping Finn’s suicide run, saying to save what they love instead of fighting what they hate."

Except, since no one knew Luke was going to save the day, from the characters' perspective all she did was ruin their one remaining hope (i.e. Finn's kamikaze attack on the ram allowing the Resistance in hiding to survive by giving them more time).

I like Kelly Marie Tran and Rose's character, but that final scene with her was dreadful.

Obviously this has nothing to do with people being horrid to Tran on the Internet. But that scene in TLJ really bugged me, and I think it should have just been cut entirely.

Not to mention this is a movie that wants you to CELEBRATE one suicide run and then five minutes later get lectured on how it is wrong. Expectations subverted, I guess!

 

I hated the movie and I hate even more all the "you just don't GET it" or "it is GOOD to make a film with no plot or consistency with the prior film as long as it does something DIFFERENT" or whatever posts and articles. But the movie being an absolutely terrible Star Wars film and barely a coherently plotted film isn't the actress' fault. The people harassing ANYONE online for this are showing their internal colours as not angry fans- but as bad PEOPLE. I hate that my dislike for this bad movie is lumped in with their vocal racist and sexist complaints because it gives everyone who wants to pretend this is some high-brow Star Wars film license to ignore all complaints- but I hate those terrible people more than I hate this terrible movie. There is no room for sexism or racism in these films or commentary on them.

 

I vehemently disagree with you on your opinion, but I think there's space for that discussion outside of awful terrible people.

 

And I think failing to recognize that is part of the problem.

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