Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Carrie Fisher Tribute

Sadly, Carrie Fisher passed away. 

I know everyone is sick of 2016 for all its political disasters and the legends it has taken from us. Yesterday, 2016 snatched Carrie Fisher from us, it took one of the most outspoken, most insightful, least restrained voices in the film industry - and probably the world - just when we need her most. She wasn't just  Princess Leia. She was a great comedian, a talented writer, and a script-doctor. She had a way with words that was unparallelled and most importantly she took zero bullshit while also not taking life too seriously. 

Carrie Fisher was born to Hollywood royalty and grew up amid Hollywood scandal. Then, Fisher herself struggled with drug addiction and mental health issues, soon speaking frankly and courageously about both. Those experiences, though often awful, gave her writing and her performances, something else, a better understanding of human eccentricity maybe. 

The actress was someone we've "known" and loved for most of our lives. As a character, Leia proved to be so important - as an example of female agency and power, as so many people's first crush and as the butt of too many jokes about her kissing her brother. That is also why her passing feels so impactful, so wrong. Princess Leia was for most of us, our childhood hero, but Carrie Fisher was a hero for adults as well, someone who'd taken everything the world had to throw at her and emerged stronger. 

We have to talk about Star Wars. Of course, we do. But there was so much more to her than Leia. I loved watching her in movies such as Austin Powers, When Harry Met Sally or The Blues Brothers!. She had superb comic timing. In Star Wars, the defining films of our youth we are not exactly swimming in female role models. But Leia was fierce: exasperated with her rescuers rather than swooningly grateful, irritated that their half-baked plan was keeping her from her work. She is the most driven, the most committed and the most effective of the lot of them; as capable of organizing mercy missions as she is of devastating attacks. It was SO good to see her return in The Force Awakens as General Organa. She is the Rebellion personified: implacable, incorruptible and irresistible. 

When someone famous dies, and we mourn and feel the pain of a lost connection, it is because that celebrity transmitted something important into the world. They didn't just make art that we will remember and cherish, they put messages into the world in the way they lived their lives. These were ideas we needed to hear, those wild and unruly transmissions changes us - and the culture around us. From Carrie Fisher, we learned that the world will try to put you into a category and make sure you stay inside it, but you can pick up a space blaster, blow apart that tiny little cell and rescue yourself. Carrie taught all of us — but especially women and girls — that an appetite for adventure and an irreverent attitude will get you everywhere, on this planet and far beyond, and that you shouldn’t wait for someone else to write your story or lead your army. Hollywood has little use for women over the age of 25, for women who speak their mind, for women who are irreverent, and for people who are open about their mental illness. Carrie Fisher gave zero shits about all of that. Carrie was unashamedly and unapologetically herself. She was a heroine. And she wasn’t a space princess, she was a queen. (And a General.)

Whatever the future holds, we can’t say we really loved these artists and advocates unless we’re willing to help each other in the new year and beyond. We’ll show our love for those we’ve lost by following their examples and being ferocious about what we believe in, but never forgetting to be ferociously kind. We’ll make mistakes, and we’ll be honest about it, and we’ll try to work as hard as they did, never forgetting to dance and laugh and create joy when we can.

I saw this post on Twitter yesterday and this woman is right, maybe the universe is trying to tell us something. The common denominator in all the artists we lost was the unflinching audaciousness to be themselves and never conform. Let's aspire to that. Be the badass hero 2016 took from you.

"Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not." - Yoda

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