I didn’t just adore Princess Leia. I wanted to be her. No, really. I was playing Star Wars with my older brother and his friend, Tim. They had chosen to be Han and Luke, respectively, and I chose the next available option – Leia.
“You can’t play Leia, she’s a girl,” my brother said, but I had yet to be introduced to gender norms (and honestly, I’m still not great with them). Leia was the badass who had just killed Jabba the Hutt with her bare hands (and the chain that he imprisoned her with). That was amazing. While Luke was busy whining about his daddy issues, Leia was busy leading the rebellion against the Empire. NBD.
Darth Vadar was the scariest thing to me as a kid. I still have nightmares about that scene in Empire when the doors open in the cloud city and he surprises our heroes. I also remember how Leia stood up to him in A New Hope from their first encounter. Also when she strolled into Jabba’s lair at the beginning of Jedi (like a boss) to rescue Han Solo. Sure, the roguish Solo was the witty, charming life of the Star Wars party, and Luke was the central character of the story, but Leia was the heart and soul of that universe, thanks in large part to Carrie Fisher.
Fisher died today.
I still can’t believe it. I’m not usually one to feel much of anything for someone I’ve never met, even if they are famous (sometimes especially if), but 2016 was a rough year for celebrity deaths. Leonard Cohen, David Bowie, George Michael, Prince, John Glenn, Alan Thicke, Florence Henderson, Garry Shandling, Edward Albee, Patty Duke, Gene Wilder, Gwen Ifill, Alan Rickman, Doris Roberts and Anton Yelchin all hit a nerve (I still have Prince songs in heavy rotation on my playlists, and I imagine George Michael may be hanging out for a bit as well). But Fisher’s death hurts.
It’s not just that she was Leia, a truly iconic character that has been a part of pop-culture my entire life. I began to love the Carrie Fisher persona of the past couple decades as well. Her bone-dry wit that came to the forefront in Postcards from the Edge. Her don’t-give-a-fuck attitude she exhibited on every talk show appearance. I was lucky enough to see her on stage for “Wishful Drinking,” her one-woman show about growing up Hollywood royalty. Her guest stint on 30 Rock solidifies its spot as one of the show’s best episodes. Her acerbic mom character elevated Catastrophe. And there’s always that gold bikini,
I’m grateful we’ll have at least one more go-around with General Leia, even if she barely registered in The Force Awakens. I wonder if we’ll ever know the true intention of what episode IX would’ve done with her. I know it’s trivial to worry about a fictional character when someone real has just passed, but given her place in pop-culture history I think I don’t think it’s completely unfair. As our world is dimmer for the loss of Fisher, the Star Wars universe will surely suffer without Leia’s presence.
I was at the gym today and six different channels had stories on Fisher. My instagram feed is littered with tributes. Even without Star Wars she was a legendary, but oh, such a legacy with it. RIP Fisher, you will be missed.