Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Carrie Fisher (1956-2016)

Can 2016 just, well, take a chill pill?  Seriously-I know that 2017 is potentially going to be worse (Voldemort will go from being a Twitter troll to the most powerful man on Earth and all that), but this year has, in a word, sucked.  That was no more apparent than yesterday, when we heard that yet another cultural icon, the incomparable Carrie Fisher, had passed.

It's hard not to be angry right now, and I think Carrie Fisher would relish that the reactions over her death have ranged from biting dark humor to a series of "are you kidding me's?" since Fisher herself rarely took certain aspects of herself particularly seriously.  While she grew up the daughter of Hollywood royalty and eventually became an icon as Princess Leia, her later life was more a celebrated look at herself.  She spoke poignantly and hilariously about her celebrity highs-and-lows, her issues with drugs and alcohol, and in particular became a plainspoken advocate for those dealing with mental illness.  So many people are indebted to Fisher for her plainspoken and frank discussions about mental illness, as it helped the conversation continue about bipolar issues and mental health, a topic that has taken great strides in public acceptance since Fisher came forward some 15 years ago (though we still have a long way to go).

And yet for many, despite the decades of writing and public advocacy and acting, she will be eternally Princess Leia, a fine legacy in itself.  I remember looking to Star Wars with different eyes the first time I saw the series than most young men my age.  While Luke was too passive for me and Han was more an object of lust for my teenage viewing, Leia was cool.  She was badass, someone to root thoroughly for as she fought the dark side and commanded respect from everyone around her.  To find out that the woman who inhabited her was also a cool, badass who commanded respect-that was particularly sweet icing on the cake.

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