Kelly Marie Tran is the exuberant actor behind Rose Tico from Star Wars: The Last Jedi. She was also the target of vicious online harassment, ultimately leading her to take down her Instagram account. What was the chance of a lifetime for the young actress, made her the target of people who have, apparently, nothing better to do with their lives than insult people online.
Kelly Marie Tran is not the first woman or person of color to be harassed online. Around the time Ghostbusters came out, Leslie Jones found herself the target of similar harassment. I do not want to spend more time dwelling on the awful things said about them. I also do not want to berate them for taking time off of social media.
Taking time off social media is brave.
As actors, social media is an essential marketing tool for building their brand and connecting with fans. I commend Kelly Marie Tran for being brave enough to step away from something that was causing her pain.
Leaving instagram was an act of self-care, and I hope she is getting some fresh air and some healing from it. No one needs that kind of negativity in their lives, and I’m proud of her for taking the leap.
One of my favorite aspects of film and television is its capacity to shift cultural conversations and inspire others. Silly as it was, the Legends of Tomorrow episode “Raiders of the Lost Art” drove this point home. Ray Palmer and Nathan Heywood lost their ability to help the team because George Lucas never made the movies that inspired their passions in the aberrated timeline.
Kelly Marie Tran is the first woman of color to hold a lead role in a Star Wars movie, and that can never be taken away from her. Every young girl who looks like Tran is going to get to grow up in a world knowing she can be a hero. Just like an entire generation of black children are going to get to grow up with T’Challa and Shuri and Okoye to look up to.
The Geek World is hostile to Women (and people perceived as women)
Whether it’s as broad as GamerGate or as simple as the obstacle course of questions you’ll get to prove you like a character, women have it tough in the geek world. Ask me about the speech I have prepared for when someone questions me about my Punisher shaker bottle.
How do we end this hostility other than asking platforms like Instagram and Twitter to be more vigilant in enforcing their policies?
This isn’t the kind of think piece where I tell you I have the answer as to why this is happening or what we can do about it. The Geek Anthropologist and Vice have some great articles exploring misogyny in the geek world.
No, this blog post is about something else.
It’s about something Rose Tico said.
“This is how we’re gonna win. Not fighting what we hate. Saving what we love.”
We determine what makes Geek Culture important.
Pardon me while I jump fandoms for a moment, but I need to talk about Logan.
Throughout the movie, Laura’s quest to find Eden – the mutant paradise from a comic book – is mocked by Logan. It’s just a comic. It isn’t real. And yet, when she arrives at the coordinates from the book, she finds her lost friends.
Eden wasn’t real because the comic book said it was.
Eden was real because the readers collectively decided that it should be.
That is where you come in. Yes, you.
Plenty of people are pouring out their love for Kelly Marie Tran today, but someday soon, it’s going to be someone else who finds themselves targeted. I made this graphic as a reminder that the voices of love and passion are stronger and more important than the hateful trolls.
If you are a supporter of geek culture being a welcoming and inclusive place, I encourage you to share this banner on facebook, twitter, instagram, wherever! Remind others of what is important.
Geek Culture should be our Eden, because we decide to make it that way.
Feel free to share your experiences and stories in the comments below.