Back in 2015 when merchandise for Star Wars: The Force Awakens hit shelves fans noticed something a bit odd about it. Despite being a significant part of the film -- and the central character of the new Star Wars trilogy -- Daisy Ridley's Rey was weirdly absent from the merchandise. It spawned the #WheresRey hashtag on social media and by the time The Last Jedi rolled around, there was more Rey on more merch. As we get closer to The Rise of Skywalker, however, much of the merch for that film is curiously missing another female character -- Kelly Marie Tran's Rose Tico and now fans want to know "#WheresRose".
On Friday -- Force Friday, to be specific -- Twitter gamer and Star Wars fan Jenny Nicholson posted a few images comparing the artwork and merchandise that were previewed earlier this year to the merchandise that is actually available. Sure enough, images of Rose appeared in the previews but are missing from the real deal. Check out Nicholson's comparison below.
I remember #WheresRey around the first Force Friday, but what makes #WheresRose more insidious is all the evidence of where she was designed into merch and then willfully removed. The fan conduct toward Rose/KMT was shameful and catering to those fans sends the worst message pic.twitter.com/D85iLBghos— Jenny Nicholson @ Halloween (@JennyENicholson) October 4, 2019
While it's understandable that not every character will be on every piece of merchandise -- and in the specific case of the "Rebel" shirt, one could make an argument that a character-free version of that item would be pretty popular generally -- Rose is a main character and for fans the absence of Rose is especially troubling. The Rose Tico character first appeared in The Last Jedi and was immediately controversial. A specific subset of Star Wars fans took particular issue with the character and launched a lot of hate and anger -- much of it racist and sexist -- at Tran. The actress eventually left Instagram over the hate. She broke her silence in August 2018, revealing that she had begun to believe what some of the haters had been saying, but ultimately is motivated to create a world in which the biases she's experienced no longer exist.
“I had been brainwashed into believing that my existence was limited to the boundaries of another person’s approval. I had been tricked into thinking that my body was not my own, that I was beautiful only if someone else believed it, regardless of my own opinion,” Tran wrote at the time. “I know that I now belong to a small group of privileged people who get to tell stories for a living, stories that are heard and seen and digested by a world that for so long has tasted only one thing. I know how important that is. And I am not giving up."
For the moment, Disney has not addressed the "#WheresRose" concerns.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will premiere in theaters on December 20.
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