Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Again 2016? Really?

Anyone who knows me knows I'm a Star Wars fan. I have been for over thirty years now. I've been enthralled ever since that magical moment in 1983 when I sat in a darkened theater with my mom and watched the words start scrolling up the screen. Seriously. That experience has stuck with me ever since. Some of you get it. The rest of you never will and that's okay.

Those of you who do get it will understand my attachment to both the characters in the movies and the actors that played them. Some of you may have even read the Star Wars Expanded Universe books and pictured the characters in the books as looking like the actors from the movies. Remember when Han and Leia got married and had a bunch of kids that rescued their Uncle Luke from the Dark Side? I do and in the books as in the movies, Princess Leia looked a lot like Carrie Fisher.

So I got a bit worried when I heard that Carrie Fisher had a heart attack Saturday night. We nerdish types have lost far too many of our heroes this year and I didn't want to lose another one. Sunday brought news that Carrie was stable and resting and I was extremely relieved. It wasn't about Episodes Eight or Nine. Carrie and her cast mates are a part of my childhood and dammit, she's only sixty. Was only sixty anyway.

So now, Carrie Fisher and Kenny Baker are together again at that big starship in the sky and it sucks. It was bad enough as a fan of ST:TOS when we lost so many of our idols, but Star Wars is ten years younger and Carrie Fisher was barely out of her teens when the films were made so we were going to have her for awhile right? I guess not.

Carrie Fisher was a pretty big part of my life in another way as well. At some point in the dim, dark, distant past I started noticing that girls looked different than boys and that the differences were interesting. It was at about that time that I got the first three movies on VHS and noticed that "Oh wow, Princess Leia is HOT!" I instantly had a crush that lasted for quite awhile. It was my first celebrity crush. According to some interviews I've seen featuring Miss Fisher it wasn't the only one either.

I've always had a love of strong female characters in both literature and film and I'm pretty sure it starts with Princess Leia. She may have been the subject of a rescue attempt but she sure as hell saved both Han and Luke when the Stormtroopers were after them. Then she ran the Rebel Alliance as General Organa. Along the way she married some idiot smuggler, but don't blame me for that. She was, and is, one of the baddest asses in the history of all Science Fiction. She always will be.

Carrie Fisher did more than just Star Wars, although most of her other work was off screen. She did a lot as a writer as well. I can't help but feel a kinship with her for that as well. I write fiction myself and, while the fact that she saw some of her work produced would indicate that she was better at it than I was, I identify with that. The nights in front of the keyboard aren't glamorous or exciting the way being a Hollywood star is, but they're meaningful and rewarding in a different way. She got that the way only a writer can.

I've seen some people claiming that Carrie Fisher was a hero. I've seen others that claim that she wasn't. My take falls more along the "not" category. Was Princess Leia a badass before it was common for female characters to be badasses? Sure, but Carrie didn't write the movie, she played the character. She did a damn good job and she left a huge impression but no, I don't consider her a hero. Heroes run into burning buildings to save lives. They risk their lives to take criminals off the street and fight wars. She was what she was: An amazingly successful woman who played an iconic role in one of my favorite movie franchises. She also played in many other roles but that's the one most of us will always remember her for.

It's weird to think about how hard some of the celebrity deaths we've experienced this year have hit me. I don't usually react to this kind of thing, but damn.  It's been one after another this year. So many of them have been from things that I loved. Whether you're a Trek fan or a Wars fan (or both, we do exist) it's been a rough year. I'm ready for this to be over.

I remember looking for a picture from Star Trek III when Leonard Nimoy passed. It had the four remaining bridge crew members taking a drink together. I wished them well since they are the only ones we have left. It occurs to me now that we've lost Carrie Fisher that all we've got left are Mark Hamill, James Earl Jones and Harrison Ford. Granted, it was a smaller cast to begin with but Harrison Ford and James Earl Jones are both much older than Carrie Fisher was. It's kind of scary.

It's weird too because this one has me feeling my age. It seems like it wasn't that long ago that I'd flip on the news or open the newspaper and find out that some actor I was too young to be a fan of had passed. Seriously. I'd see a person on the news and someone would say, "You're too young to remember them but they were in.." and I'd be like, "Oh, okay." Try that now. Carrie Fisher, Alan Rickman, Kenny Baker, Prince, Anton FREAKING Yelchin (I have over a decade on him), etc., etc., etc. I'm too young for this shit.

I guess I'll just stop whining and be glad we've still got who we do. I'll say a prayer tonight that we don't lose anymore this year, but I won't bet on it. 2016 is the year that refuses to die and it's going to take down as many of our favorites as it can get.

Some Princess Leia related products are available at the link below:


  1. Well said, Jim. folk need to differentiate the person from the character. I think it is a movie that we can still identify with seeing for the first time in the 70's. it was a gamechanger and boy, so exciting during and after. Watched Episode V last night and enjoyed it for the nth time.

    1. Well, I didn't see my first Star Wars movie until ROTJ dropped in 1983. I wasn't born until 1976 so I missed the first couple. But yes, there is a difference between the character on screen and the person who played them. Taking nothing away from Carrie Fisher, she didn't meet my definition of a hero. A great actress, yes. An accomplished writer, yes. But not a hero.