Earlier this week Star Wars: The Last Jedi actress Kelly Marie Tran deleted all of the posts on her Instagram account after months of receiving harassment over her role as Rose Tico in the ostensibly controversial movie. It's been getting mainstream news coverage, and many big names in Hollywood, including her co-star Mark Hamill and director Rian Johnson, have risen to Tran's defense. It's also started a larger conversation of the idea of "shitty Star Wars fans", or that small group of people who consider disliking creative choices in a franchise is grounds for harassment and death threats. This conversation was going on before Tran deleted her Instagram, when Star Wars author Chuck Wendig called out "shitty Star Wars fans" in a tweet back in May 31st.
help I fell down a weird rabbit hole of shitty Star Wars fans
oh my god these people
— Chuck Wendig (@ChuckWendig) May 31, 2018
Discourse has been loud and making the Star Wars side of Twitter almost impossible to be around, and it only got worse as the week went on. By the time the fifth hit and Tran deleted all of her posts, everything was already close to boiling over — and that was just the tipping point.
A few days went by and the same Facebook group that took credit for review bombing The Last Jedi and voiced their intentions to do so with Black Panther took credit orchestrating at least some of the sexist and racist harassment Tran had to endure on her personal Instagram account.
The post in question is still up, but we're not going to link it here. There is no reason to, because this is the most attention we're willing to give these people.
It hasn't been all bad. This is a conversation we need to have, and Star Wars has just set up a larger conversation about how to deal with toxicity in fandom. Star Wars is one of the biggest fandoms ever, so this is the test to see how everyone handles this. Thus far the support Tran received is fantastic and much louder than the minimal support Daisy Ridley received after deleting her account last year. The hashtag #FanArtforRose is providing some much-needed positivity when we need it most. Then Stephen Colbert decided to take a shot at these angry fans in his opening monologue.
Can I get a "woke porg" funko pop?
The truth of the matter is we needed to have a conversation about this. We need to learn to have a civil conversation online about Star Wars without harassment, death threats, and bigotry. Once we get Star Wars figured out, we can address this problem in all fandoms — and maybe make the world a better place.
Or make the internet a little less hellish. Whichever comes first.