One of the first movies I remember going to see on a big screen was Star Wars. Like so many other people I was taken by the the spaceships, the laser guns, and the lightsabers and was eternally affected by the imposing figure of Darth Vader. And like a lot of boys my age I was enthralled with the Princess who’d been taken captive by the Empire while trying to get the plans for the Death Star to her allies. ‘Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi’ was a call to action not just for a fictional character but for a lot of real life people as well.
Princess Leia was the heart of the Star Wars trio (consisiting of she, Luke Skywalker, and Han Solo) in the same way that Wonder Woman is the heart of the DC Comics trio of her, Batman, and Superman. While the two men in each group often find a reason to take their ball and go home or are unwilling to do what’s needed to save the day, both ladies stay until the fight is finished no matter the opponent or the odds, and accept both the decisions they had to make along with their consequences.
Carrie Fisher was that kind of person away from that role, too. In addition to a great acting career she was a prolific writer of both books and Hollywood scripts, and an outspoken advocate on mental health issues. Her openness and candor about that struggle may be her greatest accomplishment; read some about that here. She overcame a lot of things that you can read about in the many tributes that are out there, but to me she was remarkable in her resolve in the same way that her most popular character was.
She also stood firm in the fight against all the prejudices women face in and out of Hollywood – against aging, gaining weight, being smarter than a lot of the men around you and their insecurities that result, the desire to make a women into sex symbols at every opportunity, and not getting the same leeway to rebound from one’s mistakes. She refused to go away, even when the industry around her would have preferred that and that was a testament to her strength and her character.
In a year that a lot of the icons of my youth are passing on, this one may be one of the hardest hitting ones for me. Goodbye Carrie and thanks for the memories.