Wednesday, December 28, 2016

That's General Organa to you...

Carrie Fisher died yesterday at the age of sixty years old, less than a week after suffering a heart attack on board a flight from London.

I've been told by more than a few people that I'm ridiculous for allowing the deaths of celebrities to affect me, and this time was no different. The shamers and mockers ever present in this digital age of ours, ready to pounce on the feelings of others.

I'll never really understand why people care so damned much about who we mourn and why.

I digress. I get distracted by assholes on the internet too easily. It's a character flaw.

That's not what I am here to write about.

I'm here to write about her. I'm here to write about what she represents to people out there like me, the ones who were first exposed to her as kids, the image of that metal bikini ingrained in our minds.

Sure, she was a character in a few movies. That's how most people associate with her.

I've seen more than a few of my male friends, particularly the ones around my age, lament her passing as she held a special place in their, ahem, maturing.

And yeah, she was hot as hell in that bikini.

But if that's all you remember her for, and that's all you think is important about her, I've got news for you.

She was so much more than an object to ogle. SO MUCH MORE.

Even her character, if you want to simplify her for the purposes of this exercise, was more than that. She was feisty and raw and the hardest worker in the series. Seriously, where were Han and Luke for all those years leading into The Force Awakens??? Han bailed on her and their son. Luke disappeared, found some island in the middle of nowhere to sit on and mope until someone came to find him. A woman eventually found him, I might add.

And where was Leia all that time? At home, dealing with all the shit the men ran away from.


That's General Organa to you, now.

I could go on and on about the character issues, but I won't do that here. That's not what I'm writing this for either.

I'm writing this for everything else she was, to me and to so many others, away from the screen.

She was born into the film industry, the child of stars. She could have loafed around, mooched off of their wealth and influence. She didn't. She worked, and then once she had that fame all to herself, she used it for good. She used her position and her privilege and her money and her fame to help not just herself, but others.

She owned her vices. She talked about them openly in a world where such talk is discouraged for fear of ruining reputations. She dragged her inner struggles out into the light. She wrote about them. She admitted them openly. She fought like hell to be a better person. She screamed aloud to the world that she had mental health issues and that it wasn't something to be ashamed of.

She called out the sexist misogynists in the industry. She demanded better for the women who came after her. She mocked the men who objectified her. She shined a light on the fat shaming ageist world called Hollywood.

Then she proved to all of those who've tried to quiet her that she could still utterly steal the show, even though she was old and she carried more pounds than they, the men of the world, wanted her to.

She went from Leia to Organa right on the screen in front of us, and it literally took my breath away as I sat in that audience in tears.

This was what I came back for all those years later. Her.

She had become the true core of the rebellion. She was the one to be reckoned with. And she didn't give any fucks at all about what you thought she should wear or do with her hair or how much she should weigh.

I've said for quite a long while now that I wanted to be just like her when I grow up.

Not Leia.



She was strong and capable and complicated. She was a fierce advocate. She called it like she saw it, never pulling any punches. She demanded accountability, from herself and from the industry that she occupied. She was willing to stand up and tell the world who she was. She was an addict. She lived with bipolar disorder. She owned all of it, dared all of us to do the same.

And she did it all regardless of what anyone ever thought of her.

She was a hero.

And she was a hero not for what she did on a screen, but for what she did in real life.

As I wrote on my Facebook page yesterday.

"And she was. 

Past tense.

That's the part that's wrong."

Women like her give me the strength to be who I am. They tell me to swallow that lump of fear and hesitation and to scream out loud to the world that I live with PTSD and anxiety and postpartum depression. They tell me that there isn't weakness in admitting these things, that there is power in them. They tell me that I have the ability to help someone else by chipping away at that stigma we're all taught to obey. They tell me that I don't have to wait until I'm thin enough, I don't have to be pretty enough, I don't need to be older or younger or richer or more famous to make a difference in the lives of others. I don't need to fit into the tiny boxes that society tries to put me in. 

I can be who I am, and I can fight. I have the strength. I have the determination. I have the voice and the skills and the passion already. I don't need permission from anyone to be who I am.

And she taught me that.

Carrie taught me that. 

She taught millions of us.

And she did it boldly, often awkwardly, usually toting her dog along beside her. 

I still want to be like her when I grow up.

Thank you, Carrie, for all that you were and all that you gave and all that you taught us. 

May the force be with you.

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