‘The Last Jedi’: Did Rose Really Need More Screen Time?
Star Wars has, since the original trilogy, been a massive media property, but the sequel series of the 2010s reignited it as a cultural phenomenon. New movies and characters revitalized the fandom, as well as added some important diversity to the Star Wars universe. However, this increased diversity, with more prominent female characters and characters of color, sparked something of a reactionary backlash, with certain sectors of the fandom quick to go after queer fans, female fans, and fans of color, as well as attacking actors and writers themselves.
One actor that faced significant racist and misogynist attacks was Kelly Marie Tran, who played Rose Tico. However, after the series’ end, more fans are acknowledging the complex relationship between Disney and its marginalized actors, and how actors of color like John Boyega were often unfairly sidelined. Nonetheless, Rose Tico continues to spark debate, leading to fan questions: was Tran similar unfairly sidelined in The Last Jedi? Or was her character’s lack of screen time simply how the plot played out?
Some ‘Star Wars’ fans think Rose Tico was treated unfairly
Rose Tico was a controversial character from her introduction in The Last Jedi. She was presented as a possible love interest for Finn, as well as a mechanic for the Rebel Alliance. She had a very small amount of screen time, but the very presence of an Asian actress in a plot-important role in Star Wars outraged some fans enough that they engaged in significant amounts of harassment towards Tran.
Other fans, however, liked her character, and even created a hashtag, especially after Rose was written almost entirely out of The Rise of Skywalker: #RoseTicoDeservedBetter. Though we cannot know for sure, the greatly diminished screen time in The Rise of Skywalker could easily have been connected to the outcry from toxic fans, and many fans hoped that they could see more of this character. Rose is an interesting character: she’s a talented mechanic without formal training, but she also has more everyday traits: she isn’t Force-sensitive, and she’s an idealist who is close with her family. This character can almost be seen as a representation of fans: showing how the Resistance would be largely made up of people who weren’t part of any major prophecies or royal families.
Other fans think Rose’s character was somewhat superfluous
There were some Star Wars fans who, while critical of Rose as a character, did not engage in harassment and had more plot-based reasons for their dislike. More of these fans have come out in recent months, and on a major Star Wars fan subreddit, some fans have discussed why they thought Rose Tico did not need more screen time. One fan argued “she served the purpose she needed to serve,” comparing her minimal presence to that of Han Solo in Return of the Jedi and Padme in Revenge of the Sith. While Rose is not on screen for a large amount of time, “she is the reason the Resistance and the galaxy finally won.” Rose was not on screen for a large amount of time, but it is clear that she was instrumental to the plot.
Many fans still want more representation of marginalized groups in ‘Star Wars’
Star Wars, being a Disney property, still does have its problems with representation. John Boyega, who played Finn, was very vocal about how he felt his character was treated, especially with a setup as a prominent Force user before having his role diminished after fans presented a racist backlash to a Black lead. Queer fans felt used by Disney claiming that a very brief shot counted as LGBT+ representation. However, there is a move to explore these characters more in future Star Wars content. Hopefully, fans of Rose Tico will get to learn more about this intriguing character.