What: A powerful New York Times op-ed.
Who: Star Wars ingenue Kelly Marie Tran.
Why we care: It used to be that if you were a fan of something–like, say, fictitious wars that take place in space–you looked forward to and actually enjoyed new installments of the thing. Modern fandom, however, seems to involve fighting to protect one’s particular vision for a property, even (or especially) after the creators have expanded that vision. I’m talking, of course, about Star Wars purists, who have groused endlessly about the series’ recent more female- and POC-centered films. These enraged, white nerd-men feel displaced and excluded, and even though they are wrong to feel that way, they somehow fail to extrapolate the realization that this is how people from certain other demographics feel all the time, and then go the extra step of developing empathy. Instead, what these dudes seem to do is focus their ire for a changing cinematic universe on one element of it: Kelly Marie Tran.
After the rising star appeared in last year’s The Last Jedi as Rose Tico, tyrannical fans began denouncing her online and even editing her Wookieepedia page with racist attacks. Why they would attack her–a person simply living her and their dreams, rather than the creators who hired her–remains an unfortunate mystery. Eventually, Tran even deleted her Instagram to free herself from the scores of bellyaching nerdlingers. Months later, however, the actor has just written an essay for the New York Times about her experience with online harassment, and her evolving thoughts on it. In this must-read piece, not only does she take these shameful men to task, she also takes ownership of her identity, her success, and her right to it.
“I am the first woman of color to have a leading role in a Star Wars movie,” she writes. “I am the first Asian woman to appear on the cover of Vanity Fair. My real name is Loan. And I am just getting started.”
If her trolls, too, are just getting started, they’re apparently going to be in it for the long haul as Tran’s fame continues to grow, and robbed of the ability to get under her skin.