Starting with Star Wars Celebration in Chicago, the Disney marketing dreadnaught for Episode IX “The Rise of Skywalker” has dropped out of hyperspace on TV, social media, and in books. Missing however was is Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico.
The Episode IX panel at Star Wars Celebration offered an amazing comeback: The delightful Kelly Marie Tran, absent from the spotlight after cruel and abusive trolls targeted her on the internet, returned to shine. J.J. Abrams had glowing words for her, and the audience gave her the standing ovation she deserved. It was very nice to see.
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And then the teaser played.
Kelly Marie’s Rose Tico was nowhere to be seen. Earlier in the panel, a still of Rose with Daisy Ridley’s Rey had appeared, but no hint of Rose in the teaser.
Since the Celebration, most promotion has been for tie-in books, or Galaxy’s Edge theme park, or the Vader Immortal VR game. That changed though when Vanity Fair shared behind the scenes video, interviews with the cast and crew, and images by the famed photographer Annie Leibovitz, who provided amazing cast portraits from the last two Saga movies as well.
Missing from these tantalizing and delightful images was again a particular character: Rose Tico.
So why aren’t they showing us Rose or Kelly Marie?
It seems unlikely that Disney or Lucasfilm would actually bow to the trolls, holding back her images as to avoid more toxic commentary. That would seem to give the trolls what they want, and Kathleen Kennedy has not been known to do that before.
If it is Disney pushing Kelly Marie and Rose aside just to avoid the perception of bad publicity, that would be pretty disrespectful to Kelly Marie, and to the fans of the character.
Are they perhaps holding back out of respect for Kelly Marie? The abuse was horrendous, and perhaps a mutual decision was made between Disney and Kelly Marie to limit the grist for boorish, racist, and misogynistic “fans” to process into their spiteful posts. This would not seem to me though to be the actions of the brave woman whose essay about the abuse and its effects on her appeared in the New York Times.
Perhaps as the movie draws closer we will see more of Rose Tico and Kelly Marie Tran in media promoting the film; regardless of what one thought of The Last Jedi the effervescent Ms. Tran was someone who obviously loved what she was doing, and brought enthusiasm and joy to every appearance she made leading up to that film.
Seeing her return to bring that energy to Rise of Skywalker would be wonderful, and an inspiration to a lot of people who have been marginalized in their own lives.
When promotions and merchandise for Star Wars: Rebels appeared, sharp eyed viewers noticed the Twi’Lek pilot Hera Syndulla seemed to be missing from many things. It sponsored the #wheresHera hashtag on Twitter, Tumblr, and other media outlets.
When toy releases for The Force Awakens seemed to skip over Rey, the #wheresRey hashtag may have led to some fixes, including a re-issue of the initially Rey-less Monopoly game. Perhaps its time for #wheresRose to start trending on Twitter as well. Here’s hoping both Rose Tico and Kelly Marie Tran will have some time in the sun before Episode IX hits theaters.
It should be noted the writer for the Star Wars Vanity Fair article, Lev Grossman, noted in his AMA that Ms. Tran was not giving interviews at the time.
Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker debuts in theaters in the United States December 20, 2019.