“To Me She is Always Royalty”

I didn’t know Carrie Fisher that well from Star Wars. Due to an obsession with Disney and then with Harry Potter, the prequels didn’t spark much interest and obviously didn’t feature Carrie. I first saw Return of the Jedi, the one with the slave outfit and then the Ewok braids. While Carrie is awesome in all the movies, the script designated her as the damsel.  Leia was still given more than her mother Amidala was, however; Amidala started as a plucky, elected queen and ended as a sobbing mother who died of despair. At least Leia didn’t die due to a jerk force-choking her.

Tumblr introduced me to older Carrie, who discussed battling mental illness and Hollywood double standards with a sense of humor. I started reading up mildly, but not seeking her out because social media provided enough context. Carrie was snarky, funny, introspective, and insightful on her life. She knew she didn’t have to apologize for her identity, her battles with mental illness, and her affair with Harrison Ford. Carrie was a lover, a fighter, and a writer. I’m listening to her memoir The Princess Diarist during my commute.

Princess Leia in the new, rebooted canon has her mother’s sense of righteousness, her adoptive parents’ experience of fighting with subterfuge, and her biological father’s mettle. She will sass tyrants that plan to torture her, shoot her way out of a bad situation, and use whatever weapons are handy to gain the advantage. When her world collapses, as it does between the original trilogy and the current one, she persists and remains a leader in the face of crisis. Han and Luke do their thing, but Leia grounds others. She won’t leave because tragedy shatters her heart.

We hoped that Carrie would be here to fight for everyone that hates tyranny, especially after November 2016. We need her videos, her books, her words. She would stand up to a certain space slug and save as many people as she could, to rally them with hope.  Then she died, a year and a day ago. I was devastated. We had lost another general, and royalty in the fight. It felt hopeless. I know I was crying that day, and normally I don’t cry for celebrities.

This year, we managed to survive without our general. Tragedy shattered our hearts, but we didn’t leave. We stayed to fight our First Order. Women have taken down at least half a dozen space slugs in Hollywood and in politics. Wonder Woman showed another princess becoming a war leader, and winning the box office. Then Star Wars sent off Carrie with dignity, in her last film role. We could say goodbye to her, with far less tears.

She was Hollywood royalty in real life, space royalty in character, and a symbol of hope in the face of devastation. For Carrie we will wear glitter on occasion, fight tyranny however we can, and persist. There is no better way to honor a woman who assured us we were okay as we were fighting, and that we could survive.

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