I didn’t know Carrie Fisher.
It seems redundant to say that, really, but I’ve noticed a trend in recent months for some mouthy trolling type to pipe up whenever someone expresses sorrow at the passing of a fellow human. “Did you know her personally?” Like the only people who matter are those we’re best friends with. Like we’re only supposed to give a crap about the ones who send us a Christmas card.
Carrie Fisher never sent me a christmas card, but let’s be honest – she was much too busy for that shit. A mother, an actress, script doctor, comedian and massively underrated writer, she managed to shoehorn more sass, heartache and living into her 60 years than most people could muster in 100. I’m bereft that she won’t get to live those extra 40 right now, because I’ve no doubt she’d have blown our minds at the ripe old age of 97. She had such endless sass & sunshine to the square inch.
I’m a Hamill-girl, you know that, but Carrie could run rings around the lot of them. Too sharp and sensitive for Hollywood, she once told Graham Norton she would love to escape but refused to move her daughter away from her father.
If she’d taken a different path – just the writing, perhaps – I suspect she’d have been equally lauded, but able to live an altogether quieter, more simple existence. Playing Leia in Star Wars back in ’77 took that possibility away, and though it squeezed her into countless identikit moulds she was altogether too exuberant and unpredictable for, she refused to turn her back on her fans or her legacy. Leia Organa was the world’s first wisecracking, arse-kicking princess, and Carrie made the perfect role model for three generations of girls growing up afraid that tits and ass were their sum contribution to the world at large.
Speaking to Daisy Ridley, the star of the newest franchise installment, she said “You keep fighting against that slave outfit. You should fight for your outfit. Don’t be a slave like I was.”
The obits describe her as a ‘mental health advocate’, but I’m not sure that’s the right wording for all that she did. She simply told the truth, about whatever life threw at her – and when that included mental illness or drug dependency, she never shied away from sharing that too.
She didn’t advoate for mental health so much as simply for real life -for warts and all, for fucking up, and still being successful, and the whole world’s princess.
I bemoan to Rory often how the quiet-minded define the world; there are just as many of us disordered, floundering, creative over-thinkers. We’re no less ‘normal’ than the placid 9-5ers, but the opposing is either derided or sanitised so completely in the media that it’s easy to feel like the whole world is watching the football each Saturday except you.
Carrie was a loud and welcome reminder that there are other ways of living – that every person is made of a thousand interwoven stories, and that complexity brings insight, wisdom and – with enough struggle – joy.
In fact, if you distilled it all down in me, that’s what Carrie Fisher really represents in my heart. The notion that you can be funny, adorable, ridiculous and scandalous; creative, successful, and utterly broken; needy, wanted, and lost in-between, and that all of the above is just plain normal. She was exceptional, but she was relatable, and she made me laugh until my lungs started to burn.
If there’s an afterlife, I hope I get to buy her a margarita some day, and that her dog is sleeping sweetly in her lap.