Friday, December 30, 2016

Carrie Fisher One With the Force

It's virtually impossible at this point to overstate the cultural impact that Star Wars has had. Its iconography has become a permanent part of our cultural landscape and has had an influence on the lives of millions of people across the world. There's something eternal about the mythology now, something that transcends time, which is maybe why it was all the more shocking to learn of Carrie Fisher's death on December 27, 2016. Official reports were saying that she died of a heart attack, but as the evidence mounts, it has become clear that she drowned in moonlight, strangled by her own bra. As part of the Star Wars mythology, there was something timeless about her. Death seems like too mundane a thing for stars that shine that bright.

Fisher was (by far) best known for portraying Princess Leia in the Star Wars saga (and also that nun who lived by a slightly different Book than George Carlin and Jay and Silent Bob). Aside from Ellen Ripley in the Alien franchise, there are few other iconic women ass-kickers than immediately come to mind, due in large part to Fisher's performance, which had no shortage of strength and tenacity. This speaks volumes about both the positive influence Fisher had as a strong female character and, conversely, the state of the film industry (both in 1977 and in 2016) where strong female characters are few and far between. Princess Leia never went full Ripley, but she kicked her fair share of ass, and most importantly never took any shit from anybody.

Fisher's death also seemed particularly tragic because it seemed like she'd found a new lease on life, to coin a phrase. After her well-documented battles with addiction and bipolar disorder, publicly advocating for awareness on mental health issues. She established a reputation later in life with her sharp sense of humour and extremely candid style of dialogue. Fisher also established her profesional reputation apart from the Star Wars franchise as a writer and sought-after script doctor in Hollywood, working on everything from The Wedding Singer and Hook to, yes, even the Star Wars Prequels (The circle is now complete, etc, etc.). Compounding the tragedy to make it even more Shakespearian in scope was the death of her mother, actor Debbie Reynolds, a day later On December 28. If ever it could be said that the Force was out of balance, I think it would most certainly apply here.

Carrie Fisher was certainly many things to many people in both her personal and professional lives, but I think that it's safe to say that for me and a lot of other people out there, she'll always be royalty.


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