I saw Rogue One before Christmas and I was underwhelmed. I had plans to write an in-depth piece evaluating the film – its highs (all of the minor characters and the vast scope of the Star Wars landscape) and lows (i.e. the fact that I could not bring myself to really care about the main characters or the plot) but all of those plans flew out of my head just now. I just received a Facebook message from a HUMSCHUM about the passing of Carrie Fisher. I cannot believe it.
I’ve written before about celebrities and their passings, a tribute to Alan Rickman is in my blog archives, but there’s something about Fisher’s death that shakes me to my core. She was young, yes, my dear readers 60 is a young age, especially for a woman, and she was an icon. I mean she was just there a week ago on the screen when I saw Rogue One. I knew in my bones that the Leia shown at the end of the film was Carrie Fisher. It should have been a surprise to see her there, so young and unaware of what life would bring, but it merely felt right. Carrie Fisher was the heart of the Star Wars franchise for lots of little girls, myself included.
I have a tendency to totally immerse myself in a fandom for several months or years until I eventually find something else to occupy my thoughts. However, the ‘old’ fandom never really leaves my thoughts or my heart, it simply lies dormant, waiting for the chance to rear up again. The Force Awakens was the catalyst for the reawakening of my interest in Star Wars. Although I could always feel my love of George Lucas’ films resting on the tip of my tongue I try not to overwhelm people, even my friends, with my concentrated bursts of fandom love too often. Occasionally though, I would interject the phrase “There is no try, only do” into conversations and hope that someone would catch on.
I distinctly remember wanting to be a jedi before I wanted to attend Hogwarts.
Leia is one of several role models I cherish from my childhood. She represented princesses in a completely different light from the Disney ones I was used to and she was smart. She was intelligent regarding matters of the heart, diplomatic issues, and dangerous situations. Leia never projected perfection though, which made her all the more relatable. I could picture her making mistakes but she would never wallow in her errors, she would fix them. She was a work in progress who cracked jokes, knew how to use a blaster, and confronted her emotions – anger, grief, love – without ever losing her sense of self. Leia Organa was a princess, a warrior, and a general. I really wish she could have wielded a lightsaber alongside Luke, but in the end she never needed to be a jedi to be a great character. (She’s definitely force-sensitive anyway). She wielded words as her weapon, wore duty like a cloak, and never shied away from love or friendship. She was a woman who expected respect – she would accept nothing less. Seeing her as a General in The Force Awakens made my heart sing because Leia was born to lead.
For years it was only Leia that I saw when I watched the films but several years ago I began to look beyond the character to the actress herself. Carrie Fisher, in my mind, was much like her character – she was not perfect but damn if she let that stop her from living her life, from doing what she thought was right, and from speaking out for those whose voices were not being heard. Her work as a mental health advocate was what endeared her to me in her own right and I can only hope that the work she started will be continued by those closest to her.
To every Little Leia out there who dreams of being a diplomat, a member of the military, or a princess – keep believing. To every Carrie Fisher in the making remember that you can survive the darkest parts of life – you can and will bring people joy.
May the force be with you all.
*The obituary she wanted: Carrie Fisher drowned in moonlight, strangled by her own bra.