This was originally written the day Carrie Fisher passed away... I was incredibly distraught and writing and painting helped...
The sassy, sarcastic, and strong Carrie Fisher is gone... and I am inconsolable.
We of GenX are a fucked-up generation - stuck between the grim reality of life and an adolescent fantasy world we never let go of as we grew into adulthood like the previous generations did. You see, we were the mass media generation. For us, movies were no longer fleeting flickering moments. Music wasn’t just songs coming from the radio. We had VHS. We had MTV. We could watch movies over and over. We could see our stars every day. It all became far more personal. They truly became friends who followed us on our journey as we followed them on their journeys, and so this year seemed like a nightmare to us as our friends began to leave us. Celebrities die every year - In 1969, the year Judy Garland died, the world lost a myriad of famous people - from Jack Kerouac to Rocky Marciano to Sharon Tate - but this was the year that death started taking the ones we grew up with, the ones we loved and cherished - not just famous people, but friends. And then came Carrie Fisher.
I didn’t know Carrie Fisher, but I knew Princess Leia. I saw Return of the Jedi first - knowing nothing about the movie - but nevertheless, like most boys during that period, I became absolutely obsessed. When Star Wars premiered on the CBS Monday Night Movie, my mom let me stay up to watch it, and I recorded it on VHS. I didn’t relate to Han Solo or Luke or the droids or the Empire… but the Princess - I could relate to the Princess. Sassy, sarcastic, and strong, but beautiful and feminine - she was exactly what I wanted to be. I remember cackling like a nerd when she said, “will someone get this walking carpet out of my way.” Because that’s what I would have said - if I had been sassy, sarcastic, and strong.
My obsession with the films ran its course by the late 80’s, but I continued to follow Carrie Fisher. Eventually, I would discover her wit as a writer. Postcards from the Edge was one of those raw but funny peaks into Hollywood in a time when Hollywood was still not really ready to be totally honest about itself. She openly talked about drug addiction and mental illness - and about the dysfunctions a great many GenXers felt about their families (who never matched up to the Brady’s or the Seavers or the Keatons or the Waltons).
I could relate to Carrie Fisher because she came from a world and an industry that I wanted so desperately to work in… But I could also relate to her because she had dealt with all the issues I too had dealt with (or would one day deal with) as an insecure and imperfect human being - but especially so, since she dealt with those issues in the same way I did - with wit and sass and strength - all qualities I had learned from her, from Princess Leia, all those years ago, when a short stormtrooper, a scruffy-looking nerf herder, and a walking carpet rescued her from the Death Star.