(crossposted from Facebook)
I have a weird relationship with the Star Wars universe. Many of my friends have heard this story, but for those who haven’t…
When Star Wars first came out in 1977, I really didn’t care about it. It just wasn’t on my radar. I was 11 years old, living in El Centro, CA, and deep into the world of the Hardy Boys, swooning over Shaun Cassidy and Parker Stevenson.
That fall (or maybe it was winter), my father took my entire family to see “Star Wars” at the local drive-in. I went reluctantly because, darn it, I was missing the second half of a two-part Hardy Boys episode! I needed to know what happened to Joe!
I’m pretty sure that I watched it, but I pouted the entire time.
Fast forward a couple of years. In that time I became an avid Star Trek fan, as well as Sherlock Holmes fan. I also adored the Hammer horror movies. When I realized Van Helsing/Victor Frankenstein was also Grand Moff Tarkin in “Star Wars,” I thunked myself in the head for being such a pouty girl lo, those several years before. Especially since Tarkin didn’t survive the first movie, so I was going to miss seeing the glorious Peter Cushing again on a movie screen.
Then, in 1980, I got involved with theater at my school in San Diego, where my family had moved to in 1978. I was in my very first play: a one act melodrama called, “Begone, Begonia.” I was the mysterious Madame Naomi Seesall. And my romantic interest in the play was Mayor Hiram Halfcrat, portrayed by Pat Hamill – Mark Hamill’s younger brother. Pat and Mark came from a Navy family, like myself, so it’s not surprising that we all ended up in San Diego at some point.
Pat and I continued to be friendly while I lived in San Diego, but we were never friends, and after my father retired from the Navy and we moved to the Los Angeles area, we never spoke again. (And that’s okay.)
As teens can be, I became vociferous in my allegiance to the Star Trek universe and rather dismissive of Star Wars (though, hey, that Harrison Ford sure is handsome). Eventually I mellowed, but Star Wars never really called to me.
I appreciated its role in pop culture and how it brought science fiction back to the forefront. I always thought it was a fascinating universe that was, unfortunately, ruined by George Lucas’ tin ear for human dialogue and emotion. (Thank Lawrence Kasdan, Irving Kirshner, and Richard Marquand for bringing some humanity to the initial trilogy.)
And I deeply appreciated Carrie Fisher’s portrayal of such a strong, badass woman as Leia Organa. She may not have been my role model growing up (I was too busy idolizing Sherlock Holmes, Doctor Watson, Spock, and Doctor McCoy), but she was a positive role model for so many young girls and women who desperately needed one. I later saw her from afar at my first concert: Simon and Garfunkel Reunion Tour at Dodgers Stadium in 1983. She had just married Paul Simon, so she joined them on the tour and threw wedding bouquets to the audience. (Yes, I wanted to catch it. No, I didn’t have a chance in hell.)
As I got older and heard more about Carrie Fisher, I came to appreciate that she was, indeed, a strong, badass woman in her own right. I appreciated her wit, her blunt manner, and her refusal to bow to Hollywood’s youth culture as she “aged out of desirability” or whatever the fuck it’s called (Amy Schumer’s “Last Fuckable Day” skit comes to mind.)
Ms. Fisher’s openness about her demons of addiction and mental illness made many of us who fight either one – or both – realize that we weren’t “less than” because of our struggles. We may fight against a chemical imbalance, but we are worthy humans. Such openness is invaluable.
In her youth, her portrayal of Leia Organa inspired young girls and women to be badass. In her older adult years, Carrie Fisher inspired young and older women – such as myself – to be unashamed of getting older, of being feminists, of fighting the good fight in our own ways, whatever that way may be.
Her death is sad, especially in a year that has taken so many iconic figures of our youth. But her legacy is forever.
And I will be forever grateful for her time on Earth.
Thank you, Ms. Fisher. Fair winds and following seas to you.