author: annie trussler | op-ed editor
There is nothing wrong with Rose as a character; it was merely Johnson’s execution of the addition that made me question it.
I saw The Last Jedi the night it premiered, and let me tell you, I was, and am still, shaken to my core. There are a handful of aspects I would change about certain people’s characterization, but that is better left saved for an Arts article where I can fully articulate the pros and cons of this ridiculously long feature film. So, instead of rambling endlessly about my favorite franchise, I decided to dissect and analyze one of the most glaring controversies surrounding the film: Rose Tico.
The Rose Tico debate has been endless and ongoing, with neither side reaching any meaningful conclusions as to whether or not we like this character addition. I’ll be the first to admit I was thrilled with the prospect of a new female character (like, finally), but the execution of said character was less than life-changing. I love Rose as a concept – she’s dynamic, forward thinking, family oriented, and brave. She’s everything young girls need to see in the Star Wars universe. There is nothing wrong with Rose as a character; it was merely Johnson’s execution of the addition that made me question it.
With this all being said, Kelly Marie Tran’s (who plays Rose) Vietnamese identity has trudged up all sorts of fandom-based racism that we all half expected. The fact that Star Wars thought to include not only a woman, but an East Asian woman, could not have flown beyond racist fanboy scanners. Their input into this controversy should, as always, be ignored and disregarded for their racism alone – they went in planning to hate Rose and left the theatre doing exactly that.
My issue with Rose is one of homophobia. This claim may sound ridiculous, but readers already know that about me. Trust me, I am going somewhere with this: the fandom’s most celebrated ship (romantic pairing) is Finnpoe, or Stormpilot, as some like to refer to it. The ship includes ruggedly handsome, Resistance pilot Poe Dameron; the other side is Finn, defected Stormtrooper and wonderfully developed human being. The fanbase and actors themselves have acknowledged the onscreen tension between their characters, to the point where many of us expected Lucasarts to recognize our interest in the couple. Oscar Isaac, who plays Poe, has even addressed their relationship in several interviews, referring to Finn as “Poe’s man.” So, yeah, we all know.
To me, it seems as if the wonderfully creative and tactical Rose was thrown into the plot simply to deter the romance between Finn and Poe. John Boyega (Finn) is Nigerian, while Oscar Isaac is proudly Hispanic – would a love story between these two unappreciated demographics not be the coolest shit ever? Exactly.
Spoilers: Near the end of the film, after Finn attempts to sacrifice himself to protect the Resistance fighters, Rose saves his life, kisses him, and seemingly falls unconscious. I can attest to the fact that my girlfriend, brother, best friend and I were stunned and confused in the theatre – hold on, did someone not tell Rose that Finn is Poe’s boyfriend?
There is no way Lucasarts didn’t hear about the buzz around Finnpoe – Rose’s romantic place in Finn’s life, then, was done purposefully to counteract this wildly popular pairing. We can ask why, but we all know why.
Much like the ending of The Force Awakens, a major character’s unconscious state has become a point of great contention. We all have begun to ask ourselves whether or not this captivating, bold, wildly talented actor was thrown into the mix simply to make Finn appear straight.
I love Kelly Marie Tran, I love John Boyega, and I love Star Wars… but this homophobic bullshit? Cheque, please.