There’s a very vocal and highly toxic group of people on the internet posing as Star Wars fans. Time and time again, they’ve proven that they don’t understand the fundamental nature of these stories from a galaxy far, far away. Star Wars has never been about exclusion or hatred, but about fighting those very things with love and diverse friendships.
On June 4, the internet noticed that Star Wars: The Last Jedi actress Kelly Marie Tran, who plays Rose Tico in the franchise, had deleted all of her Instagram posts. This came after months of harassment from the type of people that hated The Last Jedi so much that they’d make a sexist fan edit that almost completely removed Rose Tico from the movie.
Johnson, however, does acknowledge that these toxic people are in the minority of Star Wars fans.
These toxic critics are probably the same contingent of people supporting the “hacker” that had plans to artificially deflate The Last Jedi’s Rotten Tomatoes score, who rage against the “SJWs” perverting their beloved galaxy. Whoever they are, this toxic minority focuses their vitriol towards any attempt to incorporate diversity or female agency into the Star Wars franchise, and Kelly Marie Tran — who represents both — drew a great deal of ire from the trolls.
But these people on the internet who complain about the current state of Star Wars while actively harassing its actors and directors fundamentally misunderstand what the franchise is all about.
Would Yoda or Obi-Wan Kenobi want you to send a poor young girl death threats because she got more screentime than an old Jedi? They would both reiterate that anger and hate lead to the Dark Side. Fear also leads there. So what are these trolls afraid of? That they might lose representation in a fictional universe that’s still dominated almost exclusively by men?
Fans, for the most part, should celebrate the things they love. That’s what makes fandoms so much fun. So you probably aren’t still a fan if all your time and energy is instead spent blandly criticizing the franchise based on predominantly prejudicial principles.
Whether or not these “manbabies” want to admit it or not, Star Wars has always been about diversity and inclusion, despite the original franchise focusing on three white people. It’s about the unlikely friendships and alliances between totally different people and species, bonding despite inherent differences to unite against the threat of oppression from an overwhelming military force. Remember how the Rebels united with the Ewoks to fight the Empire in Return of the Jedi?
Rest assured, both the Empire and the First Order are Nazi regimes with different branding. All of Star Wars essentially functions as a metaphor for World War II, and to reject diversity and unification is to reject the Light side of the Force.
Think about that scene in Solo when Enfys Nest is unmasked, and we find out that she and her crew are essentially founding the Rebellion. As they all take their masks off, you see people of all shapes, sizes, genders, and even different alien races in the mix. Never forget that these are the good guys.
Every important Star Wars story ever told is about how fear of something compels characters to run away from what we might as well call their destiny. But empathy — actively caring about the well-being of everyone else in the galaxy — is what drives Luke Skywalker to leave Tatooine, what drives Han Solo to return and help the Rebels (in both A New Hope and Solo), and it’s also what causes Finn to help the Resistance instead of run away. They all do this from a place of love and empathy.
Protecting and cherishing your relationship with your fellow man, even when you don’t understand them, is what these stories are all about.
Rose Tico, who almost sacrificed her own life just to save Finn’s in The Last Jedi, is actually a prime example of Star Wars at its very best, in which a “normal” person becomes a hero by realizing that in this expansive galaxy, protecting someone else’s life is more important than selfishly preserving your own. The actress who plays Rose should be honored rather than shamed because she’s telling that same hero’s journey but for a different kind of people than we’ve seen before in Star Wars.
Anyone who doesn’t understand why that’s so important doesn’t understand Star Wars at all, and they’ve probably already succumbed to the Dark side of the Force anyway.