After The Last Jedi’s Kelly Marie Tran quit Instagram due to fan backlash, I say it’s time we address something that we’ve let run for too long.
Yesterday, news came to hand that Star Wars: The Last Jedi actor Kelly Marie Tran quit Instagram on the basis of the vituperative backlash from fans of the world she inhabits. She joins he co-star Daisy Ridley, who quit social media back in September, stating: “I don’t do social any more. I came off it last September and I will never get back on… (social media is) highly unhealthy for people’s mental health”.
During the press circuit of The Last Jedi, Tran’s excitement was palpable, with her glee bubbling over the concerns she clearly held, stating: “I can say that I’m excited to be part of the change, it feels like a responsibility, but it’s awesome as I get to be in this movie and be this character, but it’s horrifying because it’s so rare … I do feel a sort of … I don’t take representation lightly, and I am excited to be part of the change.”
Since the release of the film, this is the brand of scorn that pushed Tran to deleting her account.
Just a taste of what Kelly Marie Tran was dealing with pic.twitter.com/4CtMuMbf0R
— Paul B. (@trekkiebabble) 5 June 2018
Let’s just call this for what it is. Hate masquerading as tradition. While the Star Wars fandom might hide behind the sanctity of the existing narrative, that is a warm departure. A mask to hide the Vaderesque truth. There’s something that we need to accept – behind the famous merch ugliness breathes.
The question is, as a member of the Star Wars fandom, what is the personal responsibility of us, those who ride on Disney’s Star Destroyer alongside the wretched hive of scum and villainy that pushed Tran and Ridley?
While we might evoke our own virtue, claiming that not all of us are like that, but that certainly is part of the problem. It sounds a lot like Not all Star Wars Fans, and while the well-meaning SW fans might point the finger at Disney for not protecting their stars online, or even point to macro instances where we took to the posts like the above to defend Ridley or Tran, there’s something that we need to address.
This culture has existed for far too long. The first genesis was probably our menace for The Phantom Menace, and the extent that the actor who played the young Anakin Skywalker, Jake Lloyd, was bullied to the point that his adult life has been a series of awful moments, replete with a high-speed car chase and a diagnosis of schizophrenia.
We gave ourselves a free pass on that. It was bad. It was a bad movie, and it was a disgrace to the name, hence it deserved what it got. Anakin, Jar-Jar, George Lucas. They’re all shit. However, one is a fictional character, the other is a grown man, and the other is an eight year old child. This culture of condemnation has long been allowed to walk its own path unchecked. They’re paying to see these films, so therefore, they have a right to register their disgust. However, we’ve not seen a collective condemnation of the culture that allows the writhing mass to anonymously slander anyone they see fit, removing the line of hating the character and hating who plays the character. To them, there is seemingly no difference.
If you’ve ever defended something being criticised in that circle, you know the feeling. It’s a pile on. One voice begets many, as the threats of personal murder, rape, whatever, forms a wave until you close the window and walk away. With that being said, we can, because it’s not our life. To Jake, Daisy and Kelly, it is. The feeling of waking every morning safe in the knowledge that a baying mob silently waits a click away must be horror that gets old quick.
The thought of well that’s stardom/maybe they shouldn’t be shit/maybe they shouldn’t be ruining the franchise is the point and the problem.
I’ll remain a fan, as I love the movies. However, I will recognise the mistakes we’ve made, and continue to point out this kind of bullshit when I see it.
As Master Yoda opined: Anger leads to hate, Hate leads to suffering.