At this time last year, Kelly Marie Tran’s most impressive IMDB credit was either her role in the indie horror anthology XOXO or her appearance on IFC’s Comedy Bang! Bang!. By December, however, she’d become a historic part of the Star Wars universe: the first woman of color to play a leading role in the series. It was a dream journey, by the actor’s own account, until the response from the ugliest corners of the galaxy far far away arrived, denouncing her online and even editing her Wookieepedia page with racist attacks.
Apparently even now, half a year later, Tran’s trolls have not crawled back into their dank caves, which is why she reportedly just deleted all of her posts from Instagram after months of ongoing harassment.
Despite high-placed supporters like JJ Abrams stepping in to denounce fans who feel “threatened by women,” and Luke Skywalker himself praising her directly, Tran still has trouble shaking angry nerds who insist her character, Rose Tico, was the worst part of The Last Jedi. The fact that they haven’t let up six months later highlights some of the corrosive effects social media has on civilization. When angry Star Wars nerds were furious about The Phantom Menace and the other prequels nearly 20 years ago, they merely vented about it on message boards among their fellow nerds. Now, they can bring their unearned outrage right to the doorstep of its perceived source and feel avenged by making her day slightly worse. Social media may be even more efficient than Darth Vader in bringing people over to the dark side.