Like many of you, I am in mourning today. The world lost an idol and seems a little dimmer for it. Carrie Fisher was royalty. Her iconic role of Princess Leia carried over into our reality, acting as a beacon of hope when, at times, there wasn’t any. Her sheer honesty and courage could shine through any amounts of darkness, uplifting those lucky enough to witness it. But I don’t have to tell you all what she meant to the world. I want to tell you what she meant to me.
I was not a Star Wars fan until I was an adult. It was the recent additions of Episode VII: The Force Awakens and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story that really pushed me into the fandom. They featured remarkable stories of courageous women caught in the fray of epic wartime. It took me awhile to realize that the original trilogy, as well as the prequels, also accomplished that. But I digress.
I was, however, always a Princess Leia fan. She was a freaking warrior princess. How could you not love her? She had sass and charm and went after what she wanted but always did the right thing. That’s insane. Women don’t do that! I mean, seriously, we still have films today, almost 40 years later, that can’t properly convey women being as multi-faceted as Leia.
Carrie Fisher was intense behind the scenes of Star Wars as well. She has been quoted as standing up to Hollywood sexism that still plagues films today. One of my favorite quotes came from 2008’s Wishful Drinking, her one-woman show she later adapted into a book, discussing with George Lucas why there’s no underwear in space.
George comes up to me the first day of filming and he takes one look at the dress and says, “You can’t wear a bra under that dress.”
So, I say, “Okay, I’ll bite. Why?”
And he says, “Because. . . there’s no underwear in space.”
What happens is you go to space and you become weightless. So far so good, right? But then your body expands??? But your bra doesn’t—so you get strangled by your own bra.
Now I think that this would make for a fantastic obit—so I tell my younger friends that no matter how I go, I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra.
If that’s not the cheesiest explanation to see boobs, I don’t know what is.
As an adult who is both a writer and a mentally depressed person, I have been able to appreciate and sympathize with Fisher on a deeper level than I ever thought possible. She has been bravely public about her struggles with addiction and depression, something that I, too, try to do. When you have a disease where your mind wants to live, but your body wants to die, it’s comforting to see others overcome their struggles. Watching Carrie in anything always gave me hope.
I feel I need to talk just a little more about Star Wars, because it wasn’t until recently I recognized just how pivotal Fisher’s character was to the entire franchise. It may go without saying, but Leia is by far the overshadowed hero of Star Wars. She begins the story as an adopted princess given a life jeopardizing mission that she takes without hesitation. She loses her adopted parents and her planet, yet takes charge during her own rescue and saves herself. She gets taken captive and made a slave by what can only be described as the most disgusting allegory for sexism ever and KILLS HER CAPTOR BY CHOKING HIM WITH THE SAME CHAINS THAT BOUND HER. She rises through the ranks of the rebellion, becoming a trusted strategist and ally until she is their leader. She is looked upon as hope for the galaxy. She stays with the fight while both Luke and Han had abandoned it (this may or may not be true later, but as far as Episode VII goes, it sure looks like it to me). From princess to rebel to general, Leia is the reason the fight is alive. I will be ever grateful for her portrayal of this woman who could do it all.
Carrie Fisher and her embodiment of Leia are the symbols of survival that we so often need. She struggled and persevered. She offered humor during times of sadness. Her talent changed the world of both fiction and non-fiction as we know it. She made 44 movies, appeared in 46 TV shows, authored 7 books, wrote and starred in 4 stage productions, doctored numerous scripts including Sister Act and Last Action Hero, and dedicated much of her time to educating masses on mental health. While the stunning Carrie Fisher may be gone from this world, she’ll always be regarded as a pioneer across many platforms.
May the Force be with you, Carrie Fisher. Yours will always be with me.