A recent and disappointing dispatch from Star Wars fans came through this week when it was revealed that relentless online vitriol drove actor Kelly Marie Tran to leave social media. Fortunately, Stephen Colbert's re-cut Star Wars trailer starring Kelly Marie Tran in the lead role is here to make us all breathe a tiny bit easier. The trailer, which first appeared on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, is a delightful send up of the hellish bro culture that invaded the Star Wars fandom. To be fair, it happened long before J.J. Abrams and company dared to have a young woman character anchor the new franchise. But instead of getting better, it's only gotten worse.
The fact that Tran's Star Wars character, Rose Tico, is the first major role for a woman of color in the franchise is something to celebrate — not attack. Unfortunately, this has been lost on the trolls of cyberspace, who have waged a relentless online campaign against Tran for the past six months or more. So while Colbert's edited trailer is hilarious, it's also bittersweet. How is it possible that people still need to hear that including women in things isn't just good, but essential?
Watch the trailer for The Late Show's Star Wars: Episode IX , which he has appropriately subtitled Shut The Hell Up, You Hateful Dweebs below:
Admittedly, the trailer is imperfect; it relies too heavily on human anatomy. One could easily make the "Chewbacca was a woman the whole time" joke without the added gag of subtitling a Wookiee phrase as "I'm ovulating," for instance, and Rey literally castrating beloved male characters is a little much. Still, though, Colbert makes his point. People did this for Ghostbusters, Doctor Who, Rick & Morty, and any other number of properties that trolls declare ownership of. Even so, since Colbert is one of the many, many, many, straight, white, male, 40-something dudes in late night, it's refreshing to see him take on this topic.
The pervasive racism, sexism, and general misogyny that's always lingered in fan culture was writ large by the invention of the internet. Once studios began to reboot beloved franchises like Star Wars and Ghostbusters — just with the addition of modern effects and women characters — certain corners of fandom began to riot. And then they got louder, and meaner, and more organized, but it's not clear what they're fighting. Is it inclusion? Diversity? The debilitating recognition that the white male experience is not, in fact, the cornerstone of this or any other universe? The horror.
If you'll recall, one of the more bananas arguments made by trolls against a Ghostbusters with female leads was that the film would, retroactively, ruin their childhoods. It's a complaint that made no earthly sense then, and — surprise — is still an inane claim to make. If trolls were upset that a new version of a film they love was being released for a new generation, too bad so sad, that's how it works. Or perhaps they were afraid they wouldn't relate to it in the way they related to the original as a child. If that's the case, it's a little unfair to take issue with the general passage of time and demand a movie studio do something to change it.
No amount of artfully re-cut movie trailers, or Mark Hamill quoting William Shatner, will change enough minds to halt the systemic, insidious behavior in its tracks. But Star Wars: Episode IX — Shut The Hell Up, You Hateful Dweebs is a good effort, a sweet one, and a genuine one at that. Real Star Wars fans would line up around the block for a film starring Rose Tico. And hopefully, Kelly Marie Tran knows it.