Why harassment has gone too far


Big-time creatives have always been a target for trolls, including Star Wars. But when is it okay to attack them for simply doing their jobs?

Since the Disney-Lucasfilm buyout in 2012, so-called fans have hit social media to address their fury at the changes to the beloved Star Wars franchise. They have attacked actors John Boyega, Daisy Ridley and Kelly Marie Tran for their roles in the sequel trilogy. Even The Last Jedi director, Rian Johnson received abuse by fans.

Before the release of 2015’s The Force Awakens, a teaser trailer revealed Boyega’s then-unnamed character (Finn) looking panicked on a desert planet dressed as a Stormtrooper. People became outraged at a black stormtrooper in a Star Wars film.

People also attacked Daisy Ridley, who plays Rey, for her character being a Mary-Sue because of her Force abilities. Ridley has since removed her Instagram account.

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Then the worst onslaught came when people abused Kelly Marie Tran on Instagram with racist comments and hate messages because her character Rose Tico. This prompted Tran to delete all the content on her account, but keep the account active. She spoke out about her experience and revealed the reason she changed her birth name Trần Loan to Kelly Marie Tran when she began her acting career.

In recent tweets, actor Ahmed Best who played Jar Jar Binks in the prequel trilogy revealed he suffered harassment because of his character. He mentioned considering suicide. The love of his young son made him reconsider his decision of wanting to kill himself.

Also, actor Jake Lloyd who played young Anakin Skywalker in The Phantom Menace quit acting a few years after the film’s release because of the harassment he received for his role.

In witnessing the abuse these actors received, people cannot differentiate between an actor and the character they play. The character DOES NOT define who the ACTOR is in reality.

Boyega spoke out when backlash surrounded his role and said he didn’t care what people thought of him and the color of his skin didn’t matter.

Anthony Nguyen became one of many people who praised Kelly Marie Tran for her role as Rose saying:

"“She was the first woman of color to be cast a leading role in the Star Wars franchise.”"

He continued:

"“People of color, especially Asian-Americans are grossly under-represented in TV and film.”"

Photo Credit: [Star Wars: The Last Jedi] LucasfilmFreelance writer and journalist Nicole Karlis weighed in on Tran’s situation, stating people are afraid of a woman who is not white taking center stage in breaking down sexist ideas and stereotypes of which should defy a woman on screen.

What makes the situation worse, fans blame director Rian Johnson for the fail that is The Last Jedi because he wrote the story and directed it. The movie isn’t terrible. Though, it introduced what Episode IX could be about.

Yes, Disney might own the franchise now, but Lucasfilm is still telling stories, aren’t they? The films aren’t being dumbed down because Disney is for families. Marvel fans aren’t complaining about Disney owning Marvel are they? Stan Lee wouldn’t have allowed the buyout otherwise.

In this writer’s opinion, it shouldn’t matter what an actor and character looks like and people should wake up to change. However, if a character is depicted in descriptions as Asian, the actor should be Asian or of Asian descent. This avoids whitewashing controversies. We do not live in a world where life is a utopia where leading men should be handsome and muscly and women have to be beautiful and rely on the man to save them.

Look at the late great Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia, for example. When the character debuted in 1977’s Star Wars (later Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope), she didn’t need Luke and Han to get her out of a situation when she was more than capable of getting herself out of trouble.

The same applies to Natalie Portman’s character Padmé Amidala. She didn’t need Anakin and Obi-Wan to save her when she could handle herself.

Regarding Ridley, Tran and Boyega, they are only doing their jobs. The roles they play shouldn’t define who they are as people. They’re hired to do a good job and not be criticized for the role.

Many fans like to pretend the prequel and sequel trilogies don’t exist and that the original trilogy had perfection flowing through it. This shows how people have an unrealistic expectation of what the franchise should be. They believe the films should play without all the CGI and should follow the same formula as the 1977 through to 1983 films.

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Having studied film myself, I understand the difference between ‘perfection’ and ‘unrealistic’. The truth? Nothing is perfect. In fact, the word perfect shouldn’t exist. Every piece of media in the world is flawed. Even the original films were flawed if you consider it. Why didn’t the Empire realize the first Death Star had a fault? Why did Obi-Wan say Yoda was his master when it Qui-Gon who taught him when he was a Padawan?

In film, there is no right and no wrong. It is up to the writer, the director and the producer to determine whether the story is right for the screen. Same goes for acting. The responsibility falls to the casting director to whether the actors are right for the characters.

There is no perfect film. Star Wars is not perfect. There are no perfect characters or stories. Every director has a right to tell their own story in their way.

What is your opinion of the harassment? Let us know!