Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia has inspired my imagination. It set fire to possibilities both on the movie screen and in games, books and comics. It was her acting and likeness that set fire to our hearts to imagine all the possibilities.
When I first ‘met’ the character of Leia, she wasn’t my favorite. She was always so angry and I was too young to really get WHY. But by Return of the Jedi I began to appreciate her. Now she was Luke’s sister, the Princess who could take time out from the big picture (the Rebellion) and rescue Han, admit she had feelings for him. She could be chained and turn her imprisonment on her captor and stop him from hurting anyone else ever again. She had Force potential the same as her brother. Suddenly Leia was awesome! And now I can see that the world needed Leia. She was a rare kind of hero for her time, something now everyone is pushing saying they need. I don’t quite get why, not that I don’t see why we need cool female heroes. What I don’t get is why they act like we didn’t have any. We had Leia. We also had Uhura and Wonder Woman but Leia was the one I knew best. We needed more Leia merchandise perhaps: the male characters always seemed to get the best stuff. But female heroes? I had Leia. Then she was joined by daughter Jaina and finally her movie mother Padme. And I could always see the connections.
With the prequels she developed a new kind of resonance. Now I see Leia and I see the parts of her that came from Padme, and the parts that came from Anakin. The same determination that drove her Mother, the anger (not unjustified) that she got from her father. And in the Expanded Universe Jaina inherited her Force sensitivity, courage and sheer determination.
In the Expanded Universe stories I watched her struggle with the identity of her biological father. Mother of three, President of the New Republic, and finally, Jedi knight. And always it was Carrie Fisher’s face I saw as this Leia, just as with the movie Leia. It was her acting that gave my vivid imagination the framework to work with to see her as the Chief of State, the warrior and the Jedi Knight. A real do it all female hero, who struggled with family vs career in a very real way. After all, when if you don’t save the galaxy where will your family live? And she was doing this female hero thing when it wasn’t yet popular or cool. She was the damsel who may be distressed but wasn’t going to take it without a fight.
She’ll always be Jedi Leia in my mind. And now she is one with the Force in this world. As Cliegg said of Shmi Skywalker (Leia’s grandmother) in Attack of the Clones:
“I know wherever you are, it’s become a better place.”
I hope so. Because I think this world is poorer without her.
But then you get that final blow: her mother Debbie Reynolds dying within days. I feel so much for their family.
When pondering this sadness, the most common thing I hear is, Debby Reynolds died of a broken heart. I can’t help note a certain … well, resonance. In the movies Carrie Fisher’s Leia’s ‘fictional’ mom Padme did too. One reason I get so upset over people dismissing Padme as a strong female is that they give call her weak for having ‘died of a broken heart’. In real life, people do, in fact, die of broken hearts. Even healthy people, though frail ones obviously have it worse. To downplay this is a terrible thing. Whether the fictional Padme died ‘merely’ of a broken heart or some evil plot of Palpatine’s, downplaying that trauma can destroy people is much easier for people who have not lived through one, and it does not only claim the weak, the old, or the infirm.
Here is scientific evidence: http://www.sciencealert.com/can-you-really-die-from-a-broken-heart
Another thing I’ve heard, albeit rarely, is that Carrie Fisher didn’t exactly live the life of a saint. I thought this rather sad thing to say. After all, the fact that she survived challenges, overcame them and advocated for things she believed made her a brave person in real life. Saint? Who is? She is a real life example of an imperfect person doing her best to hang on in this crazy world.
I can’t help but note too that she is an example of something we are losing: the ability to argue like civilized beings and still call the people we argue with ‘friends’. Imagine that. You can argue without unfriending! That appears to be a in danger of becoming a lost art!
Here’s an example:
“He asked me to do an episode and that was really, really annoying, but it was very, very funny. Screaming at each other. Arguing big time about love scenes. We couldn’t disagree more, in any world, about love scenes. I mean hours of it, hours of ‘Why wouldn’t you say that? I talk like that.’, he said to me. I don’t believe it! And if he does [talk like that], they let him get away with it because he’s Lucas.” … “He won. He let me win in the draft, then he went off and shot it and he changed it. I went crazy! I didn’t want the shimmering arm, hair in the moonlight stuff. ‘You look so lovely. You are the magical rose of my…’ It’s in!” ~ 1994 Star Wars Insider interview regarding writing an episode of the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.
Yet clearly, she still thought of him as a friend with her good natured joking about the merchandising of her likeness. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/films/2016/12/28/watch-carrie-fisher-roast-george-lucas-2005-award-ceremony/
I’ve seen terrible and wonderful things come of her death. The wonderful was the tribute paid by so many on the Old Republic: impromptu, unexpected. More or less polite, with even the Imperials coming in to the Organa Castle on Alderaan, albeit thousands of years before Leia’s time. So many people, on so many servers, so many ‘instances’ so they didn’t pile on top of each other (what’s the occupancy limit on the hall of Organa Castle anyway?!) starting early the day she died, to the massive packed memorial service and today people still filtering into the hall just to be there. It struck me that many were saying in the memorial (in the chat) that we wouldn’t be playing this game without Carrie Fisher. I’m not sure how many realize how true this is, not only for her screen acting but because her Jedi Training in the comics led to her discovering the holocron, which led to opening the entire era of Tales of the Jedi upon which Star Wars The Old Republic was founded rests upon.
It was written up in many articles like this one on PC Gamer. The guild I am part of was at the Ebon Hawk event. This playlist shows just a few of the many already posted on Youtube.
Star Wars Galaxies fans also had a memorial tribute, even though the ‘official’ game servers are offline. Fans have set up their own servers to keep the game alive. See their tribute pictures on their Facebook page.
Terrible is those who take advantage: copyright hounds who issue take down notices of the memorial videos! How low is that? Why do these apparently heartless creatures get to stay among us when our heroes are gone? Probably they are ‘bots’ set to automatically detect and challenge stuff that have no clue its in game. But then, that system has already been hit with lawsuits and they lost so you’d think they’d fix it. And then there are the scalpers suddenly buying up all things Leia and demanding ridiculous prices of grieving fans, as I found out when I went back looking to buy the Leia 6″ figure I was had been waiting on Christmas money to get.
As usual with tragedy, terrible and wonderful mix. But its just so much, so horrible much for the fans and if its like that for us, how much worse for those who knew and loved her personally? My heart goes out to them, and so do my prayers. One thing is for sure, for all the difference is in the Star Wars community between who prefers which storyline, it was wonderful to see everyone, EU and Disney canon, Sith and Jedi come together to grieve her death and celebrate her life.