It’s Force Friday, a regular event where Disney previews its upcoming Star Wars projects through new merchandise. This year is extra special, as three new major Star Wars projects are on the horizon (which is why this year it’s called “Triple Force Friday“): the video game Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, the Disney+ live-action TV series The Mandalorian, and this December’s saga film Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. The merch—be it toys, apparel, or even more unique tie-ins—has been extra exciting this year, with Episode IX billed as the end of the Skywalker saga. That feeling of finality puts an extra emphasis on the galaxy far, far away, and so many characters are getting big moments in the merchandising sun. But there’s also a noticeable absence in a lot of the new stuff coming out: Rose Tico.
Rose first appeared in Star Wars: The Last Jedi and was instantly controversial. The peppy, sweet as can be character seemed to bother a certain subset of fans, and a lot of the anger was directed at the actress—Kelly Marie Tran—who suffered from racist attacks online, which eventually drove her off Instagram. It’s hard to deny that a lot of the hate thrown Rose’s way felt unearned, racially motivated, and ugly. But Rose is still a part of the Star Wars family, Kelly Marie Tran has been out there promoting Episode IX, and the reception has been swinging back around towards the positive and appreciative. So why is Rose being left out of the major merchandising?
Fans on Twitter first noticed that Rose was meant to be on a cool Disney Store rebels shirt. This was teased during a Triple Force Friday preview last week, and got a number of Rose fans excited. But those same fans noticed this morning that Rose has since been erased from the shirt.
— What the Force? & Fangirls (@Wtforceshow) October 4, 2019
That’s not the only example. Rose is also being left off merchandise tied into the Resistance Heroes book, where she’s a featured character.
— sleemo (@sleemo_) October 4, 2019
— 🌺 (@reyssben) October 4, 2019
She’s also not included in any of the big toy sets.
— Ale (@thegoblincity) October 3, 2019
— 𝖆𝖑𝖊𝖝 (@reykyIos) October 3, 2019
Or in the film’s posters and apparel modeled after those posters.
— caroline 🕷 (@bensapologist) October 3, 2019
The erasure has prompted fans to start the hashtag #WheresRose, an attempt to bring awareness to this horrible trend of erasing women—especially women of color—from merchandising. This isn’t the first time this has happened, and it’s not even the first time this has happened with new Star Wars movies; Rey was also left out of major merchandise around The Force Awakens, even though she’s the lead character in the film.
This particular instance is especially upsetting because Kelly Marie Tran is Vietnamese-American, the first Asian actress to have a major role in Star Wars—a saga that borrows much of its influences from East Asian culture.
The @starwars mythos owes so much to pan-asian mysticism & “aesthetic” that minimizing an asian character (one of the few big screen ones that even EXIST) in promo & merch stings in a specific way that other, equally terrible erasure of other POC characters doesn’t #wheresrose
— 🌹smols ¡¿#WheresRose?! darklighter🌹 (@SmolsD) September 28, 2019
It’s also hard not to feel like the racist misogynists are being catered to in these decisions.
Just a heads up @starwars the glaring lack of Rose Tico merch is really making it look like you caved to a bunch of racist misogynists who already were or weren’t going to buy ur merch regardless of her presence. Sidelining your first woman of color? Really bad look. #wheresrose
— 🏳️🌈 Bisexual Disaster #WhereRose Ren (@jakkugerblin) September 25, 2019
Whatever the case, we hope Disney corrects this problem right away. Rose Tico is an important part of Star Wars, she’s beloved by fans all over the world, and she represents hope and positivity in a fandom that can often feel overwhelmingly negative. Let’s find Rose together.
Header Image Credit: Disney/Lucasfilm