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'Star Wars' Actress Kelly Marie Tran Quits Instagram After Months of Online Abuse

After enduring months of vile online racism and bigotry, the Vietnamese-American actress has shut down her Instagram account.

All that remains of Tran’s online presence is an empty Instagram with a blank profile photo and a bio that reads “Afraid, but doing it anyway,” as first tweeted by Star Wars Facts and reported by Variety. Tran has not made an official statement confirming the speculation that the harassment motivated her to scrub her account.

Tran rose to international stardom when she was cast as the mechanic Rose Tico in last year’s blockbuster Star Wars - Last Jedi. She was the first, and only, woman of color to have a prominent role in the mega-popular space samurai franchise.

Since the announcement of her casting, Tran has suffered frequent online abuse. Amongst the attacks, an anonymous user edited the Rose Tico entry on the Star Wars-specific Wikipedia site named Wookieepedia, changing her name to “Ching Chong Wing Tong," and listing her homeworld as to "Ching Chong China.”

Following Tran’s sudden departure from Instagram, numerous Hollywood actors and directors came to her defense. In two tweets, for example, Kumail Nanjiani wrote: “I totally embarrassingly fanned out when I met Kelly Marie Tran. Rose Tico was unequivocally one of the highlights of The Last Jedi. You’d have to be an idiot to disagree with that,” and “I look forward to the hundreds of awesome things she will make over the course of her long career,” accompanied by the hashtag #TeamTran.

Star Wars and other elements of “nerd culture” have increasingly attracted attention from members of the alt-right and nationalist movements in America and Europe. Espousing racist, bigoted and misogynistic views, many high profile right-wing commentators have complained that Star Wars is too eager to embrace what they consider politically correct, feminist and multicultural viewpoints.

The movie’s director, writers and numerous stars have all been subject to threatening tweets and messages. In addition to message board rants and offensive YouTube videos, fans have created alternate cuts of the movies with all the female characters removed and anti-semitic parodies. As Vanity Fair’s Joanna Robinson puts it, "These fans are lashing out in a way that is protective of straight white men."

In spite of all the negativity, Tran has become popular for her cheerfulness, for Star Wars fan-girl outbursts and for general positivity exemplified by a statement pre-dating her exit from social media: “Let’s tell more stories. Let’s have more conversations. Let’s get to know lives and worlds different from our own. And most of all, let’s open our hearts and accept our differences. More love, less hate.”

[Photo via IGN


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