Some 2016 Heresy for Your Wednesday Afternoon

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.

fisherI 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.

A sign above the Mayor Clinic , Friday, April 22, 2016, in Minneapolis asks people to wear purple in memory of the pop super star Prince who died Thursday at the age of 57. Prince's "Purple Rain" was considered one of his best albums. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

A sign above the Mayor Clinic , Friday, April 22, 2016, in Minneapolis asks people to wear purple in memory of the pop super star Prince who died Thursday at the age of 57.  (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

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.

Fire away.



24 responses

  1. Honestly, I agree. I’ve pointed out a couple of places that it wasn’t the years that got her, but the mileage. And there’s always the story from the set of “Blues Brothers”, where Belushi supposedly told her she was doing too much coke.

    When John “8Ball” Belushi says you’re doing too much coke, you might have an issue.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, I agree, she helped a lot of people battling mental illness. I don’t want to minimize that in any way. She certainly had her battles. That said, there are very few tributes I’ve seen that focus on that – at least on my social media feed.


  2. Fully agree. To make another point about all this outpouring of grief and cursing a calendar year, most of those expressing these things aren’t actually mourning the loss of a person. They didn’t actually know these people. They are, in most cases, mourning a fantasy. They didn’t know Carrie Fisher, the person. They knew her as Princess Leia, a fictional character. It’s kinda sad, when you think about it.

    People die. It happens. One might as well curse a mountain for standing in one’s way.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    Yep, actors aren’t heroes because of their roles.

    The characters they play may be heroes but they aren’t.

    Of course, some of the actors can be heroes because of what they do off the screen.

    Note, this is why I get annoyed when actors make a political statement.

    They have every right to make such statements but their support for a political position is as “meaningful” as any other person’s support and may be less as they may “take” a political position because it “makes them look good” in Hollywood.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. No– she wasn’t a hero. But I will miss her contributions to art and film. I think it is a shock to see an icon die– and no matter her flaws– she still was Princess Leia to most people. It is a case of how a character crosses over into our dimension– through story. And how this character affects millions of people even the person (Carrie Fisher) who is chosen to play it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree. I do think the word “hero” gets thrown around too carelessly.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. You mentioned Rickman twice. 😉


    1. Yep. But it’s Alan Rickman, so that’s okay.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Die Hard

        Christmas classic.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Couldn’t agree more, Nicki. Every time a celebrity dies, there’s this outpouring of grief, and sometimes some folks take it way, way too far. Remember when Michael Jackson died in 2009? The media was showing legions of fans wailing and crying and carrying on. It was, frankly, a little obscene.

    I wanted to grab them, shake them, and shout into their faces “You didn’t know him! He wasn’t your buddy or your family member. It’s not as if you lost a close personal friend. He was an entertainer who made a huge impact on pop music, that’s it. Stop acting as if your world has ended, because frankly, I imagine his family members would find your ‘grief’ a little presumptuous.”

    I’ve been a huge fan of Alan Rickman since he appeared in Die Hard. He just had this way of playing villains that was really compelling. Hell, his turn as the Sheriff in Robin Hood was fantastic in an otherwise meh movie. But when he died earlier this year, I looked at my wife and said, “Aw, Alan Rickman died. That sucks.” And then I moved on with my day.

    When Patrick Stewart, William Shatner, Ian McKellen, or Mark Hamill die, we’ll be right back on this same stupid rollercoaster. Meanwhile, firefighters and police officers and soldiers die all the time, and the only ones to mourn them are their comrades and families.

    I often think that, as a society, we seriously have our priorities badly skewed. This is just more evidence of that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In part, it’s the fact that someone like Alan Rickman touched millions of people. A specific fire fighter or police officer? Maybe hundreds. Likewise teachers. This is also why celebs get paid more. Sure, Rickman’s effect per capita was a lot less than the effect a certain police officer had, but you’re multiplying one by a huge number, the other by a much smaller one.


    2. SO true! It’s like we lose our collective minds when celebrities pass. News flash! They’re people. They will die. It happens!


  7. How could you write this?

    Debbie Reynolds read your blog.

    See what you did?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re a bad man, Bruce. LOL


  8. By the way, HBO is showing Carrie Fisher’s one woman play, “Wishful Drinking,” on New Year’s day. Have not heard if AMC or someone will do a marathon of Debbie Reynolds’ movies.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. 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

    How about Jane Fonda? Am I wrong for thinking 2016 might want to take her too? Asking for a friend.


    1. LMAO – as I said, there are celebrities about whom I wouldn’t shed a tear of they croaked, but I just have a problem with wishing for death for a celebrity or politician – even one whom I consider a dickbag.


      1. It’s a little personal for me. My dad flew in Vietnam and got shot at by anti aircraft guns. Probably similar to the kind she posed with.

        Now I’m not actively wishing for her death but I am going to book a trip to the gravesite as early as possible. 😉

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Be sure to wear good rubber boots; it will probably be six inches deep in other peoples’ urine.

          Liked by 1 person

  10. I think some of it is that when a celebrity dies it causes us to think where we were during the different times of their performances. For example, Ms Fisher’s death took me back to 1977 and standing with my mother and sisters in a line that wrapped around the theater. It’s the only time we waited four freaking hours to see a picture show. My sisters were indifferent but my mother and I shared a deep love of science fiction and Star Wars promised (and delivered) an epic tale! My mother is gone these 13 years now. I think I actually have that pain in my heart for Momma, not Carrie though I do mourn the loss of her talents.

    And her Twitter feed. She was hilarious sometimes. She actually kind of reminded me of you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh don’t get me wrong. I really liked her a lot. I thought she was wonderful. I’m just floored sometimes at the crazy way we idolize celebrity.


      1. Oh I agree with you. I think we idolize celebrities way too much and put too much stock in what they think. It’s bizarre when you think about it.

        Liked by 2 people

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