The tweets that populate the unofficial “Star Wars Facts” (@SWTweets) Twitter account run the gamut, from tidbits about the next possible standalone film in the franchise to pieces of trivia from the wider universe (for instance, did you know that Leia first discovered the Rebellion when she was just 16? there’s a tweet for that), but the feed blasted out a different kind of message into the social media ether late on Monday night:
— Star Wars Facts (@SWTweets) June 5, 2018
Tran, who joined the franchise with her role as Rose Tico in Rian Johnson’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” has been beset by harassment for months, and while it’s unclear if she wiped her Instagram account — once a cheery, personal slice of social media that showed off Tran’s charming personality and joy at being involved with the franchise — because of vocal “fans” determined to mock her looks, ethnicity, talent, and whatever else they wanted to take aim at in a space where she would assuredly see it, it’s easy to draw some conclusions here.
Tran’s Instagram account has indeed been wiped clean, not a picture or video to be seen. Now there’s just a somber picture of Tran, and a single quote in her biography: “Afraid, but doing it anyway.”
Tran has endured months of harassment, both on social media (again, a space where she would assuredly see it) and in rancid comment threads on posts about the film and her work in it. As NME reports, even “the Rose Tico description on the Star Wars ‘Wookieepedia’ website was altered to feature offensive, racist language while alt-right internet personality Paul Ray Ramsey took aim at Tran’s appearance.” A glance at the replies to Star Wars Facts’ original tweet finds similar responses, along with fans defending both Tran and Rose, a small ray of positivity in the midst of a thoroughly negative example of the toxicity that can exist in any fanbase.
When IndieWire spoke to Tran last December, the star said she was thrilled to find that the series — which she approached as a neophyte, though she’s got her own nerdy background, as an avowed “Harry Potter” fan — had a history of inclusivity. “There’s so many people that love it, and have loved it for generations,” Tran said. “It has done so much in terms of female roles, in terms of roles for people of color, and I think that that’s incredible.”
In the film, Tran was tasked with playing the first female character of color to have a lead role in the film series. She did not take the job lightly, and was hopeful that characters like Rose — and franchises like “Star Wars” — could continue to steer the conversation to a place where diversity is a given.
“I am so proud that I get to be this person [who] is representing something for people that may have not seen themselves in a movie like this before,” Tran said. “I would love for us to be having a different conversation, because I would love for so many Asian-Americans to be in every film franchise that it’s just normal. We’re still working towards that, so I’m excited to be part of that change.”