Star Wars: The Last Jedi star Kelly Marie Tran’s recent departure from social media gained national and international attention, prompting a community to rally and apologize for the toxic actions of the Star Wars fan-base. Now, it appears that a specific online hate group is taking credit for Tran erasing her Instagram account, in the form of a targeted, coordinated harassment campaign employed to wear down Tran — and, previously, others — who they perceive as “part of the feminist threat.”
Tran, Daisy Ridley, Felicity Jones, and other actresses have emerged as recent faces in the newly expanded Star Wars universe, contributing to a pattern of increased diverse representation in the long-running science fiction series. Women in Star Wars have now made more frequent appearances in various related properties, including animated series, video games, and comic books.
“Down With Disney's Treatment of Franchises and its Fanboys,” an online Facebook community group, took ownership of the incident in a June 8th post. The group’s mission appears to be the subversion of what they perceive as unwanted progressivism in the Star Wars universe. This can take the form of shared memes, posting screeds decrying the new Expanded Universe films, and through harassment campaigns. The latter can include repeatedly posting hateful speech and threats on the social media accounts of people like Tran, director Rian Johnson, and producer Kathleen Kennedy, who is twice named in the post as a specific target of the group’s scorn.
Rian Johnson joined throngs of Kelly Marie Tran fans when he commented on the controversy, contrasting mere dislike of a film or films with, “...hatefully harassing a woman so bad that she has to get off social media.” Mark Hamill similarly shared support and solidarity with Tran in a post and photograph on his Twitter account.
At the time of these posts, no group had emerged claiming to have spearheaded the harassment campaign — and, to be clear, there is little in the way of “proof” that this Facebook group is directly responsible, beyond their claims — but it hearkens back to other instances of Star Wars actresses being tormented and deactivating their social media accounts. Newcomer Daisy Ridley, who played Rey in The Force Awakens, deleted her Instagram account under similar circumstances in 2016, making these stories a part of a recognizable trend of online behavior conducted by Star Wars trolls.
For now, we have this online hate group to consider as one of many sources of toxic fandom, although a hashtag in their Facebook post connected their actions to another group, Give Us Legends. Group founder Brian Borg has since taken to Twitter, denying any involvement in the campaign, and the Give Us Legends Facebook account states they they, “...do not and have never condoned such behavior.”
As a founder of @GiveUsLegends and president of the non-profit charity @twinsunsf that #GiveUsLegends became, I can confirm that the page in the story doesn't and has never had anything to do with GUL or the Alliance group which I help to admin. Please correct your story. Thanks!— Brian Borg (@Azcatryo) June 9, 2018
Kelly Marie Tran has not yet deleted her Instagram account, which currently has more than 240,000 followers.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019