Farewell Miss Fisher. You are already missed.
From the first moment we got a look at those cinnamon buns on the side of your head, the world loved you. I see no reason to stop admiring your courage and honesty now. You will be remembered forever thanks to a stellar performance in a film role that nobody else could have played, in a movie franchise that is universally larger than any other. And you owned every minute you were in it. However, your career spanned far beyond the reaches of that galaxy far, far away, and you had success with other films, both before and behind the camera. You became a renowned writer, penning novels and screenplays, and always infusing them with the truth you knew too painfully well. Yet despite all the hardships you endured and inflicted upon yourself, you kept smiling. I think the only tear that you would have shed regarding your death is that your beloved mother’s followed it so quickly.
We have shed many tears for you both, and we wish the best for your daughter. I cannot imagine what she is going through, but knowing that she was raised by you gives me comfort that she is as optimistic, and perhaps she even has thrown up her hands and shrugged her shoulders and said, “Well, fuck,” and laughed aloud her rotten luck as you would.
I never met you, and I guess I never will know you through any other means than what I have already been presented with, but I trust that your candor in every interview I have witnessed or read is enough for me to respect you to the point that I feel sad to have lost you, but not despondent, because why should I be? You taught me better than that.
One of my highlight songs from my annual list of must-hears that I published last week is Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind”. I included it because of its ability to capture the emotions one feels toward a notable person they love who is gone now, despite not ever having met, or sometimes lived during the same time as that person. Carrie Fisher was first introduced to generations who existed long before I did, and her mother, Debbie Reynolds, made her mark even earlier, yet I greatly appreciate their contributions to entertainment. The first major role for both of them were terrific performances in two of the most justifiably revered films ever made. Many more shining moments in cinema were to follow… as were many less glorious happenings. Carrie Fisher was born into such a circumstance, with her father leaving her mother for her best friend. Her parents divorced when she was just two years old. She never finished school. She had many partners, but was married only once for less than a year to Paul Simon. Yes, that Paul Simon – did you think the better half of Simon and Garfunkel was out of her league? Buddy, Carrie Fisher was in a league of her own. Not the movie, but she did star with Tom Hanks once, as his wife in The ‘Burbs, one of my favorite comedies that deserves a look. She would have certainly fit in a movie like A League of Their Own, but she already had done so much to inspire women. Carrie Fisher was Princess Leia, and no one else will ever be, not even a CGI representation shoehorned into the last minute of a movie. As Leia, she commanded the respect of everyone else. The most heroic of heroes and baddest of bad guys all learned that she was a force to be reckoned with, and so did everyone watching. As a kid, I never understood why our culture is so male-driven because my favorite movie growing up showed me that women could be the heroes too. The Star Wars films have always done a great job at this, and Carrie Fisher taking charge as Princess Leia is the reason why. Not a big reason, the reason. The franchise’s success is hinged so much upon her nailing her role. Everyone else fits within an archetype – as a video I hope you’ll watch later explains – but Princess Leia shatters hers. She is not a damsel in distress, but a firm, strong, and caring person who excels at organizing a group of downtrodden people in a mission of hope for a better world in every world. She needs to be solid for everything else to work, and for four films across four decades, she has been. Even at the start of The Force Awakens, the first two human characters we meet mention how much they revere Leia. She’s still got it!
As a result, Carrie Fisher has been a role model not just for women, but for us all. She always had a smile on her face even when talking about a rough patch in her life. She could have told others to look at only her achievements, like Star Wars, The Blues Brothers, When Harry Met Sally, Hannah and Her Sisters, and so on. Instead, she made her failures into achievements. She wrote a semi-autobiographical novel that she turned into a screenplay that became a Meryl Streep movie. She was upfront about her struggles with drugs and addiction. She opened up about her bipolar disorder and encouraged others suffering the same to not give up, but live more fully. She was always true to herself and to us all. Don’t shy away from your mistakes; don’t get lost in them either.
Goodbye, Carrie Fisher. I will miss you.
There are a lot of tribute articles and videos out there, but these three touched me the most. The first is an article that Star Wars co-star Mark Hamill wrote about their friendship. I particularly like him comparing Carrie to Auntie Mame.
HelloGreedo “Carrie Fisher – You Will Be Missed”
Star Wars Explained “In Memory of Carrie Fisher”
One of those fiercely candid moments they are talking about occured recently on The Graham Norton Show.
I won’t say that that metal bikini made a man out of me when I was eight years old, but Carrie Fisher’s garb on Jabba’s sail barge in Return of the Jedi is what introduced me to a new kind of visual excitement, and that’s not nothing. Everyone remembers (at least buried deep down in their psyche) the person who first elicited their sexuality. Chock that up to the list of reasons why Carrie Fisher meant so much to me.
Thanks for reading, and I apologize for the vomit on your keyboard. Please send any questions, comments, and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Corellian cruise your way back here next week for something hopefully less sad. Come on, 2017, we really need you to not kill as many people as last year.