A Thorny Issue

Rose Tico frowns as the rest of the plot happens, a microcosm for modern Star Wars
Rose Tico frowns as the rest of the plot happens, a microcosm for modern Star Wars

No, various news outlets on the internet, we do not 'need to talk about Rose Tico'. We'll get to why.

It's no secret that I hated The Rise of Skywalker. It's an objectively appalling film, failing at any of the fundamental metrics one could use to gauge the worth of a film. Plot, pacing, dialogue, structure, direction, basic suspension of disbelief - none of it is there. The whole thing feels like a series of vignettes, stitched together from a suggestion box waved in front of angry fans during Comicon. Is it as bad as The Last Jedi? Not at all, in many ways it's the opposite of TLJ. Where The Last Jedi was a three hour kick in the balls while the movie screamed "FUCK YOU" for liking Star Wars, Rise of Skywalker is a cavalcade of incoherent nonsense cobbled together from a list of the most extreme ways the very limited JJ Abrams could think of to apologise to the fans.

The fact that an entire film in a trilogy had to be devoted to winding back the immense turd that Rian Johnson planted on humanity speaks more about TLJ than it does about ROS. And we've learned something. Bad movies aren't like sound waves. Making a terrible movie on the opposite wavelength of another terrible movie doesn't cancel both of them out. It just means you skullfucked a four billion dollar franchise into the sewer.

But if there's one thing I can praise ROS for, it's getting rid of Rose Tico. She isn't given some grand sendoff, some heroic death, some meaningful plot device - she just disappears. And this is correct. Well done JJ.

Because Rose Tico is one of the worst written characters in the history of poorly written characters, in a trilogy of films known for their appallingly written characters - especially women.

(Rey Star Wars, of course, being the worst-written character of the last 80 years. No drama, no conflict, no weakness, no flaws - the best mechanic, the best pilot, the best gunner, the strongest Jedi ever, they literally made her fucking Jesus in this film)

And she is a terrible character. I can feel some of you now, stoking your anger. Your woke boner tumescent at the idea of someone to fight with on the internet, someone who thinks that an ethnic female is anything short of a deity to be offered libations to as we praise the slow loosening of the grasp of the patriarchy.

Which is kind of the problem.

Rose was shoehorned into the narrative to fill out a diversity quotient. She offers nothing to the story. Literally nothing. If you removed Rose from The Last Jedi, just axed all of her scenes entirely, would the film be significantly changed? Would the plot be any different at all? Or would it be better? You'd cut out that superfluous and enraging Canto Bight segment for starters.

She starts off the film talking to established character Finn about how much she idolises him. She and her sister, also a crowbar job, used to discuss their crush on John Bodega before the evacuation of D'Qar. Except...Finn only joined the Resistance 8 hours ago. Then he went straight on a mission and came back comatose, before everyone immediately evacuated. So when did she have this conversation that is so crucial to clumsy exposition? Shut up, that's when. That cock-goblin Rian Johnson sure has a way with writing.

Rose then assaults Finn because she thinks he's deserting. This would be illegal since she's a mechanic and he's not a member of the Resistance/Rebels/Resisty. This is ignored. She then has an about-face because Finn gives a weak excuse.

Rose then joins Finn on a super-secret spy mission that is crucial to the survival of the Resistance. Because her powers of being a mechanic are so conducive to spycraft. As they land on Canto Bight, Rose declares that everyone there is evil, because she says so. She grew up in a place like Canto Bight, so she would know. Except that instead of a casino she grew up on a mining planet. And instead of being rich it was poor. And instead of being a neutral territory it was a First Order world. But aside from all of that it was exactly the same.

Rose then frees some space camels because they look cute and goes on the run from Johnny Law with Finn. As they're about to be caught Finn bemoans how their mission was a failure and the Resistance/Rebels/Resisty are now doomed. Rose then reassures him by allowing a single space camel to run free, at which point she declares that the whole mission is now worth it. That camel will be caught in 10 minutes, but Rose has her finger on the pulse of priorities.

The whole time this happens she complains loudly about everything. Especially Finn, who she used to think was a hero but now thinks is a coward, despite the fact that this is his second suicide mission against the First Order, undertaken on behalf of an organisation he joined yesterday.

During the infiltration of the Supremacy she fills out the vital role of comically look around corners like you're in a Scooby Doo mystery. She has no meaningful part to play in any of this, she's just there. This eventually proves to be problematic as Rian Johnson has to invent a stormtrooper with an E-Web on a gantry that appears out of nowhere to provide a reason for her not to intervene with Finn's epic struggle against the largely forgotten Phasma. Once this is done the stormtrooper magically disappears with the trademark Johnson approach to basic continuity and Rose is allowed to complain again.

Rose's final contribution to The Last Jedi is being part of the suicide attack of speeders against the Death Star Battering Ram, a term I did not make up. She's part of this attack because she is a named character, even though a mechanic with no piloting experience (Finn was flying up until this point, and it has been repeatedly mentioned how bad he is at it, so she must be worse) probably shouldn't be a part of your crack flying squadron.

She comes into her own in this sequence as Finn is about to heroically sacrifice himself to save the Resistance/Rebels/Resisty in a completion of his character arc, having found his courage and a cause worth dying for. Rose, having rediscovered her never-actually-stated crush on Finn offscreen at some point in the last 20 minutes, crashes her speeder into his to abort his attack - thus dooming everyone. When Finn confronts her she kisses him on the lips out of nowhere (if this were a man doing it to a woman it would be considered sexual assault) and gives one of the worst lines in a film noted for terrible dialogue, before she falls unconscious.

Is this, by any measurement, a good character? Is she well written? Well developed? Does she have any meaningful role in the film or drive the plot in any way?

Fuck no.

Which is why ROS got rid of her.

And now this is where things get problematic. Because Rose Tico is played by Kelly Marie Tran. An Asian female.

This means that if you don't love absolutely everything about Rose you are simultaneously both a racist and a misogynist.

I feel it is incumbent on me (in a sad indictment of the state of the world) to point out that I have absolutely no beef with Kelly Marie Tran. I think she played the part of Rose quite well. It's just that the part was awful. It's not Tran's fault, it's Rian's.

So now we're in this weird position where we cannot objectively critique a film or a character of a minority without it being labelled a hate crime. Which is something I suspect Disney planned the whole time. A smokescreen to hide the franchise's many significant flaws behind - you don't like Star Wars? Then you don't like women! Go back to your basement, neckbeard! What, you have legitimate criticisms? You want conflict and plot? Go masturbate to Jordan Peterson, narc!

The reverse also appears true. There is an almost fanatical devotion to such characters simply because of their gender or the colour of their skin. I've had a real human say that he thought that Rose was a 'great character'. When pressed on why the response was 'because she's an Asian woman.' Really? Is that enough? Is that what passes for narrative in this day and age? If your script sucks then just slap some people of colour on it and nobody will dare criticise it?

I guess it worked for Black Panther.

To me, this is the height of chauvinism. I'll not disagree that minorities - gender and race - have their struggles. They are underrepresented in film. This is a problem. But characters like Rose Tico are not the solution. To combat this disparity you need to write good characters. Compelling characters. Worthwhile characters. Because just slapping a woman of colour in a script and calling it a day is doing everyone a disservice.

Perhaps, after all of this, we do need to talk about Rose Tico, internet. Because, after much exploration, I think we've stumbled on to something. Rose Tico is a stellar example of equality in the medium of film. She demonstrates that a female, Asian character can be written as a boring, abrasive imbecile just like a white male. Progress!

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