Star Wars actress Kelly Marie Tran addressed her departure from social media at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) this week, saying that she's uncertain when or if she'll come back. Tran closed her accounts earlier this summer, after enduring months of abuse from online trolls over her role as Rose in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
"Down with Disney's Treatment of Franchises and Its Fanboys," an apparently alt-right Facebook group, has since taken credit for the online harassment, due to what they've interpreted as forced diversity in the franchise. Daisy Ridley, who was mentioned in their post along with Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, deleted her Instagram account in 2016 over similar behavior. Since leaving, Tran has published an op-ed to the New York Times discussing her experiences of marginalization as a woman of color, and her commitment to using her place in the film industry to create more safe spaces for others.
Tran attended TIFF to discuss her premiering streaming series Sorry Four Your Loss, along with her co-stars, including Elizabeth Olsen (Avengers: Infinity War). THR shared Tran's plans for social media usage following her emotional NYT column:
I felt like I wanted to write something that was honest, that truly came from me and I don't know if I'll ever go back. I think that there are, just like anything else, really good and really bad things that come with anything.
The rise of online trolls has been a lasting consequence of social media, and its prevalence in long-running sci-fi series has been due in part to the shift away from leading roles being largely dominated by white men. Sonequa Martin-Green (The Walking Dead), the first woman of color to lead a Star Trek series, has countered fan claims of CBS giving into pressure for political correctness by referencing the franchise's long-established themes of inclusivity and defying intolerance. In the Doctor Who universe, Jodie Whittaker has sent a similar message, over being the first woman to portray the iconic Doctor.
Tran's Last Jedi co-stars Mark Hamill and John Boyega, have used social media to come out against the attacks on her. Boyega tweeted "You're not entitled to politeness when your approach is rude. Even if you paid for a ticket!" Asking Tran to come back online after her experiences wouldn't really be fair. Yet online bullying aimed at women in film continues to present a problem, even with industry leaders like Kevin Feige endorsing a shift to female-led films like Captain Marvel. Community engagement is the first step, but allyship and solidarity, as exemplified by Hamill and Boyega, are an integral part of the long-term solution.
Source: Hollywood Reporter