Real talk: I was never a huge Star Wars fan. I know, right? I was just a little too young for it to mean anything to me as a kid, I never had anyone introduce me into the magical Lucas world when I was younger, and when I did start caring about movies, all I got were the prequels (one of which I saw without my contacts due to a colossal screw-up at my eye doctor’s, but even I could see how horrible it was, blurry vision and all). I know this is some kind of grievous nerd sin, but that’s just how it is. Now that the new ones have come out, I’ve changed my tune, but that’s neither here nor there. The point is that Carrie Fisher was never my princess. She was, though, a queen.
My first impression of Carrie came while watching Stephen Fry’s Secret Life of the Manic Depressive (which you can watch it here which I highly recommend) as she described to Stephen the moments she would spin and spiral off, losing all grip on reality and sense. I barely knew who she was, and she was mad as a hatter, but there was something about her that stuck with me. Maybe it was her humor, maybe it was her honesty at this really dark, grotesque part of her. Whatever it was, it was simply, purely her. It was love at first sight, really, this magnificent creature who embraced all of who she was, her mistakes, her illness, her bad luck, and she laughed. As she is often quoted: “If my life wasn’t funny it would just be true, and that is unacceptable.”
The thing about having the job I do is that I’ve seen so many people on the edge of death. I’ve somehow been given the privilege and misfortune of witnessing grief and suffering and all the stages of seeing a loved one transition from who they once were to nothing. Someone seeing their mother or father, someone whose existence they’ve always taken for granted, whom they may have seen as indestructible, someone they have loved and looked up to even into adulthood, at their weakest, at their most vulnerable. I know what Carrie’s hospital room may have looked at the last few days before the end, and there’s just something about seeing your hero like that.
I don’t like publicly talking about celebrity deaths much. I don’t really feel like it’s my place, and I try not to fault others who do. To be honest, I didn’t even realize how much Carrie Fisher meant to me over the years, despite having read almost all her books, watching countless interviews, defending her when someone I knew criticized her, but after yesterday’s announcement, I’m starting to really appreciate the influence she’d had. She was a force (groan) all on her own, never afraid to show the part of her that wasn’t perfect or afraid to embrace it, never afraid to see the absurdity in life, in sickness, in celebrity which she was more familiar with than most. There are people remembering her as that not-so-damsel-in-distress. There are men talking about how she was the star of their first masturbatory fantasies (which frankly was gross to hear about before she was alive—I’m looking at you, those who’d say this to her face—let alone now). More than anything, though, than the woman she was at the height of the original Star Wars trilogy’s fame, she’s the woman that taught us all what real strength, courage, and spirit was. It wasn’t always with a gun or resentment or blatant disagreement, but with intelligence, wit, and humor, with being who you are and learning how to stop apologizing for it.
Carrie Fisher, 60, died bathed in moonlight, strangled by her own bra.