Star Wars actress Kelly Marie Tran deletes Instagram posts after abuse

Kelly Marie TranImage copyrightGetty Images
Image caption Kelly Marie Tran was the first woman of colour to play a major role in a Star Wars film

Star Wars actress Kelly Marie Tran, who has suffered months of racist and sexist abuse on social media, has deleted all her posts on Instagram.

Tran starred as mechanic-turned-Resistance fighter Rose Tico in 2017’s The Last Jedi.

But she experienced a fierce backlash from some fans, who took aim at her ethnicity and appearance.

Star Wars actress Kelly Marie Tran deletes Instagram posts after abuse
Star Wars actress Kelly Marie Tran deletes Instagram posts after abuse

The film’s director, Rian Johnson, has defended the star, apparently describing some fans as “manbabies”.

Twitter post by @rianjohnson: What we talk about when we talk about manbabiesImage Copyright @rianjohnson@rianjohnson

Twitter post by @rianjohnson: On social media a few unhealthy people can cast a big shadow on the wall, but over the past 4 years I’ve met lots of real fellow SW fans. We like & dislike stuff but we do it with humor, love & respect. We’re the VAST majority, we’re having fun & doing just fine. Image Copyright @rianjohnson@rianjohnson

As a Vietnamese-American, Tran was the first woman of colour to play a lead role in the iconic series.

Some have fiercely criticised her Star Wars character and directed their hate at Tran personally.

Image copyrightInstagram
Image caption Tran’s Instagram page is still visible, with the bio line “afraid, but doing it anyway”, but all her posts have been deleted

Online abuse

In The Last Jedi, Rose joins the Resistance movement after the First Order – a military dictatorship – destroys her home.

She later sets out to work together with Finn, one of the film’s male protagonists, to take on the First Order.

In one of her now deleted Instagram posts, she had spoken about her excitement at joining the franchise.

“I know how lucky I am to be a part of something that people love, to be able to act and tell stories at all,” she said.

But shortly after the movie hit theatres last December, Tran began receiving abusive comments from Star Wars fans.

Rose Tico’s character page on Wookieepedia, an online Star Wars encyclopaedia, was changed so that she was renamed using a slur used to mock the East Asian accent.

US internet personality Paul Ramsay also tweeted a photo of Tran making fun of her appearance. Others took aim at her ethnicity and appearance – with numerous comments that were critical of her weight.

Twitter post by @Jody_Houser: I was lucky enough to meet Kelly Marie Tran briefly, and she was incredibly nice to a comics writer who may have been geeking out a bit too much. It's fine to not like fictional characters. It's not fine to harass actual human people. Image Copyright @Jody_Houser@Jody_Houser

There has been no confirmation from Tran as to why she vanished on Instagram, but her supporters are blaming cyberbullying and have been defending her online.

“Just reading some of the comments, it’s no wonder she made the decision,” said Sanjiv Indran, the president of the Star Wars Malaysia Fan Club. “It’s sad that her life choices are presently being dictated by a horrible bunch of so-called Star Wars Fans.

“Most of us fans – like the Force itself – are still with her.”

Twitter post by @snazdoll: If you followed Kelly Marie Tran on instagram then you know she has been one of the loveliest and most positive souls on the goddamn internet in the past year and I will FIGHT every last person who hurt her Image Copyright @snazdoll@snazdoll

Asian Americans on Twitter have also expressed the importance of seeing themselves represented on screen in a major film franchise.

Twitter post by @ReberVision: I wasn't a huge fan of the Last Jedi, but as an Asian American of Vietnamese decent it was huge to see Kelly Marie Tran in a major role in a Star Wars movie. It's beyond upsetting to see how she's been treated. Also, sickening to see fellow creators encourage it.Image Copyright @ReberVision@ReberVision

Twitter post by @bnplatt: kelly marie tran, if you’re reading this, know that we all love you and we are here to support you. you are one of the most genuine celebrities i follow on instagram, and as a fellow asian american, i felt validated and so empowered seeing you on the screen & instagram as well +Image Copyright @bnplatt@bnplatt

Twitter post by @mfgomz_: I loved The Last Jedi and one of the things I really loved about it was seeing an Asian figure in the Star Wars universe. Seeing that Kelly Marie Tran was harassed because of her presence in the film really breaks my heart. via @NMEImage Copyright @mfgomz_@mfgomz_

Tran is not the first Star Wars star to be a victim of cyberbullying.

Star Wars actress Daisy Ridley also deleted her Instagram account temporarily in 2016, reportedly due to abuse she received online.

“People can be very precious about the Star Wars universe and what they think it owes them, but they need to remember that these are actors who are doing a job,” Chris Brennan, director of Star Walking Inc – which calls itself the longest-running Star Wars club in the world – told the BBC.

“Behind all that they are real people with real feelings that deserve respect.”

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