Carrie Fisher was more than just an actress. For the past few days, the nerd world has mourned her passing. She had a profound impact on the world, not just in the Star Wars realm, but in our culture and what the character of Princess Leia represented for so many women. Her presence will be missed and this post is simply my way of dealing with this loss. Yes, our lives are always glorified in death but generations from now, we will remember her for what she represented, and that is no small feat.
I don’t intend this post to be a biography for who she was as a person. There are many journalists out there doing that now in the days after her passing. I DO want to emphasize the impact that the most iconic character she played, Princess Leia, had on a generation of science fiction loving fans that will last long after the franchise is relevant in pop-culture.
For a lot of fans, Princess Leia was an amazing heroine that showed little girls everywhere that you can be all the things that our society says you can’t be. She was strong without being overbearing. She was honorable with her actions and not just with her words. She always fought for what she believed in. She represented hope to those fighting against the evil forces that be. And she did it all, without the expectation that she had to be these things.
Many little girls wanted to grow up to be like her, myself included, and for good reason. It was nice to see a strong female character that was powerful and outspoken and one that didn’t need to be rescued. In a society where Disney Princesses show us that all we need to do to survive is find our “knight in shining armor” to protect and rescue us, Princess Leia was the knight.
Armed only with her will to fight and a strong sense of justice, Princess Leia fought against incredible odds. She knew that she could have easily have become that damsel in distress and refused to fill that role. It was an idealism that resonated with so many, not just when the movies were first released but for generations after.
Carrie Fisher was so much more than just Princess Leia, and the last thing I want anyone to take away from this is that her life has been whittled down to nothing more than the one movie she made that made her a household name. All of the things I have said about her character, rings true for her life as well. She was a strong woman, fighting against the chauvinism that saturates Hollywood. She was a force to recon with, on and off screen. Looking at her life, you see the strength that she exuded, even with the struggles she went through in her personal life.
Princess Leia is just a character, and Star Wars is just a movie, but Carrie Fisher was never just an actress. For that instant in time, she was the voice for an entire generation and was someone to look up to. I was only 9 or 10 the first time I saw Star Wars and it had a profound impact on my life. I know many others that feel the same. Now is the time for mourning, and I hope that all her fans will try to keep in mind that Carrie Fisher was an icon…and icons live forever.