I became familiar with Star Wars in the late 1980s. I was born in 1984 and the original trilogy finished in 1983. By the late 1980s, the trilogy would air on tv on lazy Sunday mornings; my Dad would turn it on. At first I thought the movies were boring, but as I got older, I was entranced.
I remember seeing Princess Leia and I instantly identified with her. I saw her gorgeous dark brown hair and I thought “Hey, she looks like me!” And it’s weird because why would I identify with Leia because of the color of her hair? Surely there were other female characters with brown hair? But this was before the appearance of another brown haired princess–Belle from the Disney animated film Beauty and the Beast didn’t come out until 1991. Alice, Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty–there were no brown haired heroines at my finger tips. The only one I can think of is Judy Garland’s Dorothy and even then, her Dorothy regretted leaving her backyard.
I had this incredibly visceral reaction to Princess Leia and it was more than just the brown hair. Princess Leia was All the Things. She could be regal, she could be angry, she could be kind, she could be comforting. She got the dude in the end. She was the girl among two guys; one she yelled at a lot and one she sympathized with. It was kind of like me and my two brothers.
When I finally read Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking last year, I was thrilled to find that the reason why Princess Leia is so amazing was because Carrie Fisher was so amazing. I mean, who else could deliver a line like “Into the garbage chute fly boy!” with such gusto? If you haven’t seen her stand up show of Wishful Drinking, I highly recommend it.
Getting to know Carrie Fisher the person has been incredible and I regret that I’ve only really gotten to know her these last few years. I would have loved to meet her in person. She didn’t just inspire people as Princess Leia, but who she was as a real human being. A few years ago I was on a phone call with my mom and she was feeling a bit down about getting older. I said, “Mom! Shitty boys on the internet hate that Carrie Fisher is old, but you know what?! She was nineteen when she did Star Wars! NINETEEN! She’s allowed to be 50-something! Just like you!!” My mom was all, “Shut the front door! She was nineteen when she did Star Wars!?! I had no idea!!” So, my mom felt a little better because even Princess Leia–the hottest princess in the galaxy– gets old too.
Rest in peace, Carrie. I will be sorely missed.