Rose Tico: A Strong Female Protagonist?

This is something I’ve gone back and forth about publishing for a while… given everything that’s been going on between the creators of the new Star Wars series and the fandom.

This is a fight no one wins, so I don’t get involved.

That being said, there is a lot of buzz around Kelly Marie Tran and her character, Rose Tico.

First of all, I want to address what’s been going on recently. What’s been happening to Tran is, IMHO no different than what happened to Jake Llyod. It is not right, and it is not cool. No one should have to suffer that kind of negative blowback from a character they played.

Keep in mind, these actors do what they can with the roles their given. How they act and the lines they deliver are rarely of their own choosing. Harassing them is absolutely unacceptable and doesn’t do anything for the cause if such a thing exists.

All right, on topic. Anyone who’s read my review of The Last Jedi or Rogue One knows that I love the franchise and I’ve been… extremely charitable in my judging of these movies and have even gone so far as to defend many of the points of contention that fans have. I have not seen Solo yet, but I likely will be this weekend.

So… I welcome everyone’s input on this one… but I would like some feedback especially from my female followers/fans.

Since TLJ came out… the media has been singing praises for Rose Tico…

“in The Last Jedi, Rose Tico takes none of your fake sh*t.”
“It’s fun to see women on the big screen who continue to step up over and over again, proving just how strong they are.”

“Tran is also aware of the pressure of playing a strong Asian female role-model.”
-Huffington Post

“Her self-belief is as strong as her moral code of conduct.”
-Washington Post

“From the moment we were introduced to the character of Rose Tico in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, we knew we had met a strong woman we could root for.”

Reading these reviews of Tico… I can’t help but feel like I was watching a different movie from the ones these editorialists watched.

When I saw Tico, she struck me as a bit of a ditsy, obsessive, fangirl. She makes assumptions and acts without thinking, or in Fin’s case, without even considering that he may have a reason for his action. She seemed to have a bit of an inferiority complex when it came to her sister’s heroic sacrifice… Her motivations are horribly muddled, and her actions, at least in my opinion, do not fall into the description of ‘strong’.

I often find her being complimented for saving Fin’s life from… what they often describe as a pointless martyr complex at the end of the movie, but her actions come insanely close to sealing the fate of the remainder of the Resistance. She sacrificed everyone else to save the guy she loved… how is that strong and not even considered a bit selfish?

So… this is where I need the feedback. I write a lot of female characters. The fan favorites seem to be Raiya and Mary Jane, though General Xaphan has also gotten a few compliments.

When I write a character, be it male or female, and I want to make them strong, what I look for is a character that fits at least MOST of these attributes;

Independent, yet not averse to the idea of relying on another person if the need arises.

Prideful and confident: You pretty much need at least one of these to be strong.

Driven and determined: They have their goals and their own agendas that may or may not be in line with the overall narrative.

Opinionated. They have their own vices, but aren’t afraid to face them.

Can function as a leader, but is also willing to listen to others when needed.

Can show emotion such as fragility or even just a soft side, even if resistant at first.

Is strong both emotionally and physically to some extent.

Has a reasoning for their situation and their worldview, even if it doesn’t make much sense to others.

Their existence is not predicated on the existence of another character.

I saw very little of any of this from Rose Tico’s character at all. If anything, she was the antithesis to many of these. Like I said, she seemed like an obsessive fangirl half the time, clingy, emotional, and selfish the rest of it. Her motivations were a bit skewed, especially when it came to saving Fin, and her entire backstory served no purpose other than ramming blatant social commentary down the audience’s throat. Ask yourself… would anything have been lost had Tico and the entire Canto Bight sidequest been cut in favor of watching Rey train with Luke and Fin and Poe fighting the Empire in space?

So I am genuinely curious… is Rose Tico an example of a strong female lead? Is she someone we want our girls to look up to? Am I way off on my assessment of what makes a strong character? Is Rose Tico the way you want strong women portrayed?

Let me know in the comments. I’m genuinely curious here.



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I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

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Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!


4 thoughts on “Rose Tico: A Strong Female Protagonist?

  1. Karandi says:

    Rose and Fin’s entire adventure could have been cut from the film without actually harming the main plot in any way. It was a side fetch quest that amounted to nothing.
    Some people enjoyed the banter between the two and going on the ride with them, I found it a distraction from what ended up being a fairly bland film that was overbloated with sequences that didn’t serve much purpose.
    As to whether Rose is a strong character, she does at least voice an opinion. Strong doesn’t necessarily mean smart, and she isn’t playing the damsel in distress and she is sharing the lead in that side quest equally with Fin. So theoretically she is a strong character. I didn’t much like her character but that really wasn’t the point of the question.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Rose is not what I would call a strong character, but I didn’t have any problems with her. For me Rey is a good strong female lead while Rose was less well defined as a character, as you point out. But it’s certainly not a reason to hate on the character or the actor playing her as I have seen in Star Wars groups. In fact I was planning to write an article on it myself sometime.

    However the point of the Canto Bight part of the film was that both Finn and Poe Dameron had something to learn: that being a hotshot pilot or going off on some crazy hairbrained scheme is not enough to win the day in the end and indeed it can put people in peril such as the lives of the pilots of the Resistance bombers, or indeed the entire Resistance at the end of the film. They both need to learn to follow orders, understand people in higher positions have more information than they do, and know when to run away so they can fight another day. The Canto Bight subplot is Poe, Finn, and Rose blatantly disregarding orders and then placing the entire Resistance in peril due to their actions. It is a harsh lesson for them all to learn, but by the end of the film you do get the sense that the lesson has finally sunk in. It does come across as a bit of a wild bantha chase though.

    Also Canto Bight was the first time you really get to see the rich elite in the Star Wars universe and what they do with their riches. These are the type of people that happily supported the Empire in it’s day and probably don’t care what is going to happen to the galaxy and why should they? They’re rich and even if the First Order takes over, it’s not going to effect them in any negative way. In fact they will probably prosper from it…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. […] it and the character had potential. Sadly she never actually reached that potential as the writer of this commentary points out. Of all the female characters who belong part of the Forces Of Destiny project she is […]


  4. First off, I am not a major Star Wars fan. I’m old enough that I saw the first three movies in their theatrical releases (multiple times for their entertainment and effects), and have a fondness for them (maybe it’s nostalgia from driving up the highway alone at night after seeing the original and feeling like I was in an x-wing) that allows me to forgive the corniness (Lucas WAS trying somewhat for an old-time movie serial style.)
    I am less fond of the second trilogy because I had real problems with Anakin’s motivation – I never bought that he could turn THAT badly, despite what a annoyingly whiny adolescent he had turned into.
    The series tends to throw a lot of useless padding in there (because they can, because they’re STAR WARS), and I agree that the Canto Bight sequence was another of those – I didn’t care one wit whether they made it out, and felt no tugging at my heartstrings (I know I have SOME of those) when the stable boy is looking up at the sky at the end.
    Rose struck me not as a female role model, but more as a child role model (she was very childish – she could have been played by an immature 12-year old) to show the heroism of trying to do things that seem impossible because they’re right, but just about everything she did was unbelievable (and mind you, I know I’m talking about a series where I already have to suspend a huge amount of disbelief.)
    She was not a strong character, and a less established (and insulated) film would not have risked it. (BTW – I am not faulting the actress – it’s the writing and directing.)


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