Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Kelly Marie Tran Speaks Out About Online Harassment In Powerful Editorial

By: Dominic Jones

Star Wars: The Last Jedi star Kelly Marie Tran has broken her silence over the online harassment she received following the film's release, which resulted in her deleting her Instagram account back in June.  The actress, who will reprise her role as Rose next year in Star Wars Episode IX, had not spoken publicly about the events that led her to this decision.  Until now.  This morning The New York Times published a lengthy editorial titled "I Won’t Be Marginalized by Online Harassment" by Tran where she addressed what happened.  We've highlighted some key sections below.

She began by addressing the harassment she received and how it impacted her,

"It wasn’t their words, it’s that I started to believe them."

She then added, 

"Their words reinforced a narrative I had heard my whole life: that I was “other,” that I didn’t belong, that I wasn’t good enough, simply because I wasn’t like them. And that feeling, I realize now, was, and is, shame, a shame for the things that made me different, a shame for the culture from which I came from. And to me, the most disappointing thing was that I felt it at all."

Tran went on to share some of her experiences about being on the receiving end of stereotypes and the feeling that she felt the world was trying to make her ashamed of being Asian and being a woman.  She then laid out her vision for the type of world we should all be striving for,

"I want to live in a world where children of color don’t spend their entire adolescence wishing to be white. I want to live in a world where women are not subjected to scrutiny for their appearance, or their actions, or their general existence. I want to live in a world where people of all races, religions, socioeconomic classes, sexual orientations, gender identities and abilities are seen as what they have always been: human beings."

She concluded her editorial, as follows,

"I know that I now belong to a small group of privileged people who get to tell stories for a living, stories that are heard and seen and digested by a world that for so long has tasted only one thing. I know how important that is. And I am not giving up.
You might know me as Kelly.

I am the first woman of color to have a leading role in a 'Star Wars' movie.

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."

Tran is an inspiration for speaking up for what she believes in, especially in the face of the harassment she received this year.  It recalls Rose's most iconic line in The Last Jedi: "That's how we're going to win, not fighting what we hate, saving what we love."  And that's exactly what Tran is doing when she talks about working towards a world where people are defined by the stereotypes associated with their gender, race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, or class.  Difference is something that should be celebrated and loved, not mocked or attacked.

There is no denying that Star Wars fandom hasn't been the most positive place since the release of The Last Jedi in December (not that it was perfect before, far from it), as some have used their displeasure with the film as an opportunity to attack and harass others.  To be clear, it's not about whether someone like The Last Jedi (or any other film for that matter) but how they go about expressing that.  Plenty of people have shared how they didn't enjoy the film in ways that are respectful and constructive.  However, those voices have been drowned out by those who would rather harass the film's stars and creators, as well as other fans with the opposite opinion.  And that is not the sort of community Star Wars fandom should be. 

It's up to all of us who don't think that harassment is acceptable to stand up and not let these hateful voices dominate the discourse.  Like I said, this isn't about whether you like The Last Jedi or Rose Tico, you can dislike the film and its characters all you want, this is about standing up to bullies--something Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Poe Dameron, Rey, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Padme Amidala, Jyn Erso, Cassian Andor, and countless other Star Wars heroes would do.

Follow The Star Wars Underworld on Twitter @TheSWU for more updates about this story and other breaking Star Wars news.


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