Carrie Fisher was not a hero.
There. I said it.
She was a wonderful actress and a talented woman. She was strong and unfiltered. She was unafraid and funny. She was a cinematic and science fiction icon. She was born into what amounts to Hollywood royalty (for those of you who don’t know, Debbie Reynolds – THE Debbie Reynolds – was her mom, and Eddie Fisher was her dad), and she reaped the benefits.
I loved her in “Star Wars.” I loved her in “When Harry Met Sally.”
I grieve for her family and friends, who have lost a loved one. No one should have to bury a child.
I grieve for cinema and for entertainment writ large.
But a hero? No.
She was a human being – a flawed one. She admitted to have had drug problems in her youth. Drugs take their toll on one’s body, as does alcohol. It’s tragic, but there it is.
By the way, at least 14 U.S. service members died this year during Operation Enduring Freedom alone. These are heroes, in case you wondered.
My social media feed for the past two days has been filled with tributes and memories. Many were touching. Many detailed the impact Princess Leia’s character had on a generation of girls. These are beautiful, no doubt. I understand the inspiration Princess Leia became for so many women out there, who looked to her as a beacon of independence, strength, and willfulness.
I can’t speak for all little girls, but I know that most – myself included – connected with Star Wars because of Leia; here was a girl who was in the thick of it with the boys, who wasn’t overtly sexualized (with one exception*) and didn’t need anyone to protect her. She wasn’t an accessory, and her princess label defied the Disney/fairy tale stereotype. She wasn’t waiting for a prince. The fact that she falls for Han Solo speaks to her feisty independence – he’s not interested in sweeping Leia off her feet or rescuing her.
It’s true, but aside from Carrie Fisher’s superb acting talent, this is also a testimonial to the outstanding writing and cinematography team that created the Star Wars movies.
I’m not sure why it is that we tend to idolize celebrities as we do. They’re human beings – talented ones, and sometimes very flawed, but human beings nonetheless. Their deaths, while tragic for their loved ones, will not change the course of the world.
Any time a celebrity died this year, my social media feeds exploded with memes, grief, and tributes. Alan Rickman… George Michael… Prince… David Bowie… Gene Wilder… Muhammad Ali… Anton Yelchin… Elie Wiesel… Garry Marshall… Leonard Cohen… Florence Henderson… Alan Rickman… just to name a few, were lost to us this year.
These talented, beautiful people are a great loss to music, the arts, cinema, and culture writ large. I grieve for their families and the loss of their gifts to the world.
And every time one died, it was major news all over the web. Tributes, speculations about causes of death, inevitable memes and graphics, and teary farewells dominated the news cycle, even as wars, carnage, and bloodshed raged elsewhere in the world.
(I will say I did not partake in the tear fest, neither here, nor on social media. It’s not because I’m callous in some way, but because people die – whether in tragic car accidents, from cancer, from prolonged drug use, or just old age. My sole exception was a tribute to Hugh O’Brian, because of the indelible effect he had on my life and my development as a human being, and I do recognize that these artists, producers, etc. may have had a similar effect on others, so I’m not bashing others too, too hard on this issue. And at risk of sounding like a concern troll, I’m also disappointed in many of my friends, who are gleefully hoping for the deaths of the likes of the President, the President-elect, Hillary Clinton, and other politicians they don’t like, since 2016 seems to be on a roll. I’ll be the first to admit I won’t shed tears if Nancy Pelosi bit the big one in the next few days. Hell, I didn’t when John Murtha croaked, but to gleefully wish for death of politicians whom you don’t like, or with whom you disagree… it’s a bit much.)
So yes, I realize I’m committing science fiction blasphemy by writing this post the day after Carrie Fisher’s death, but I felt it needed to be written.