(Montage created by Q)
There are those who think we would better serve a ‘feminist’ version of the late Carrie Fisher by remembering her as General Organa rather than her iconic turn as Princess Leia. That, not only would be dreary cinematic revisionism but would also deprive Carrie Fisher of her position in pop culture history.
Carrie Fisher is a princess in that history and always will be for the hundreds of millions of Star Wars fans across several generations as well as those who have only a casual interest in the franchise or even no interest at all. And ‘feminism’ was well served by her princess because she redefined the role.
Leia was no fairytale Disney princess past or, interestingly, present. She wasn’t the damsel in distress of, say, Sleeping Beauty but nor was she the all powerful, needs no help from anybody, totally self sufficient heroines that film makers currently mistake for a ‘strong’ female. Carrie Fisher’s princess in 1977 was far more interesting than today’s too perfect heroines.
Leia could entice the boys, be snarky, wear a gold bikini, fall in love with Han Solo AND still lead the rebellion alliance. It’s called being a fully rounded character. That she went on to rise in the army and become a General is only to be expected of such an already 3 dimensional character.
In remembering Leia we also honour the flawed perfection of Carrie Fisher herself. Witty, fiercely intelligent, sharp social observer, humorous writer, advocate for mental health, devoted mother, loving daughter, supportive sister, the actress could no more be put in one box than could Leia who was royalty but also a slave, a soldier, a diplomat and a General at different points. She weathered as many storms as Skywalker or Han yet was never tempted to the dark side.
Make no mistake, Princess Leia was strong.
So we mourn Carrie Fisher now because she made us love Princess Leia. And in remembering Leia we remember our childhoods and the magic we believed in then.
Memories related to celebrities we have lost tend to evoke so many emotions in us. They make us nostalgic for the times when they first came into our lives and dropped a little magic in them. These memories then become like the smell or taste that has the power to transport your mind and senses back to those times. At some level we relive the times and for a few moments the magic returns.
The people we’ve lost in 2016 touched so many of our lives with their work and made such a huge impact on pop culture.
Perhaps Yoda was right to say “Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not.” But we’re human. We will miss Princess Carrie.