A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to participate in an episode of Give Me Those Star Wars, a podcast dedicated to one of my favorite franchises and my first hardcore fandom. It’s always great to be invited to take part in a Fire and Water Podcast Network show, especially when Ryan Daly is the host, but this time it was a sad occasion: Ryan was asking myself and several other fans to help pay tribute to the sadly departed Carrie Fisher.
It turned out to be a heartfelt and touching show, with remembrances ranging from favorite Princess Leia moments to her career as a writer and under-the-radar script doctor. For my part, I had so many things to say that I was worried I’d forget something (or just go on and on), so I ended up writing something out. And now, I’m sharing it here.
This is exactly what I recorded for Give Me Those Star Wars, including little idiosyncrasies like italics where I wanted to remind myself to stress some words and ellipses for pauses. If you’d like to hear how it turned out, go check out the episode and give it a listen!
I’ve started this thing about half a dozen times.
First, I tried explaining that Carrie Fisher has been a part of my life since I was seven years old. That, of course, was when she first strode across the screen as Princess Leia in Star Wars. Then I tried summing up her professional life, as an actor, a writer, feminist icon, and then when she evolved into her final form as capital-C Carrie.
Ugh. I haaaaate when people refer to celebrities by their first names. So I tried starting that way, pointing out that where Carrie Fisher was concerned, I couldn’t help it. She meant so much to me personally that referring to her in any other way sounded … impersonal.
But none of it was working. I couldn’t explain why she’s been so important to me, or why her death felt like such a loss.
I finally realized it comes down to one simple thing: I admire Carrie Fisher. As an actor and writer, sure — but mostly, as a person. I admire her incredible strength. I admire her intense honesty. I admire her unyielding bravery.
These were all qualities that came through in her work. When I watch her as Princess Leia now, I can see Carrie Fisher there. I completely believe that, if she found herself in the position, she would stand toe-to-toe with Darth Vader. That she’d go undercover to rescue the love of her life, willing to blow up herself and everyone else around her to get it done.
I believe Carrie Fisher would strangle anyone who tried to put chains on her.
That bravery and honesty burned bright in everything she did, especially her writing. Her scorched-earth style of autobiography started, always, in her own backyard. Instead of shying away from any pain, or embarrassment, or shame anyone else might’ve felt if their life got so publically … complicated, she confronted it. She wrestled it into submission. She embraced it. She made it her own.
And, in the messy process, she gave us yet another reason to love her.
From the beginning, Carrie Fisher had been bigger than life. That hasn’t changed, even now.
But I do miss her.
I miss knowing she was out there in the world, kicking ass and smiling at the thought that anything would try to stop her.
All I can do is shoot this cobbled-together message into space, and hope it makes sense once it gets there.
I like to think it’s what Carrie would’ve done.