She Gave Us Hope: A Carrie Fisher Tribute from The Geekiary
So many amazing people have passed away this year, men and women who were strong creative voices, amazing scientists, talented actors and/or musicians – people who spoke to so many generations. Carrie Fisher, who is best known as Princess/General Leia Skywalker Organa Solo, was so many of the above.
To us at The Geekiary, she was that Princess, that General, AND an incredible inspiration. She was an all around amazing woman; the world was better for having her in it, and seems somehow less now that she’s gone. Our tribute to this wonderful woman is nothing more or less than our personal stories about how we fell in love with her. Join myself, Admin Angel, Khai, Jamie, Farid, Jessica, and Undie Girl as we extol the virtues of Carrie Fisher, who will be sorely missed.
When they made Leia a General in The Force Awakens, my reaction was “FINALLY!” Because to me she was never a Princess – or certainly not “just” one. As a young girl watching the Star Wars movies, I didn’t see her as a love interest or that symbolic princess – I saw her as the Rebel Leader she was. And in real life, Carrie Fisher embodied so much of who and what Leia was – a woman with a sense of humor who wasn’t afraid to speak her mind. She was unapologetic about her mental illness, and hearing her speak about it has pushed me to do the same regarding my own struggles. Not only that, she was open about how seeking treatment for her illness truly did help…and don’t even get me started about her dog Gary and the way she talked about him, because I’ll be honest, I’ll just start crying all over again (mostly because it’s how I feel about my animals; some days I’m not even sure I’d still be here and mostly sane if it weren’t for them).
Yes, Carrie was an icon because of her role as Princess-turned-General Leia in the Star Wars movies…but she was so much more than that. She helped polish scripts, because she was funny; she wrote best-selling books, because she had an amazing writing voice and great stories to tell; she refused to feel bad about her struggles with addiction or alcoholism as well as the aforementioned mental illness; she tried her damndest to be body positive and to fight against unrealistic expectations for women and was particularly outspoken about the idea of aging gracefully in one’s own way.
In real life, Carrie Fisher truly was a Princess, a General, a Rebel Leader. She was a defiant, wise, clever, loyal, kind hero, and that’s what I’ll miss most.
It’s hard to process this loss. It’s hard to think about the fact that I won’t be seeing any more heavily-emojied tweets on my timeline or adorable pictures of her taking her dog Gary to press junkets.
This loss is more devastating than any celebrity death I’ve ever experienced and it’s difficult to put into words why. Part of it may be that she was a major part of an active online fandom, and another part may be the fact that she represented two major parts of my life that I hold dear: feminism in geek culture and mental health advocacy. Her role as Leia Organa was important, but her candid discussions about mental illness propelled her from “amazing actress” to “role model.” People who suffer with mental illness are typically shamed and silenced, but she was straightforward and gave me hope.
Sometime between birth and the end of my first year, a series of ear infections rendered me mostly deaf. I didn’t get my hearing back until I was nearly six. Now, I can’t swear that Return of the Jedi was the first movie I watched with hearing but it was definitely the first that made an impression. Star Wars owned my heart from the moment I saw Princess Leia dressed as Boushh the bounty hunter Star Wars. When I got older and started reading about the actors behind my favorite characters, Carrie Fisher became someone I looked up to on her own merits. She was so deeply, astoundingly candid about her struggles with mental illness in a way that really spoke to me, and I couldn’t help but admire her courage. Though I saw her only a handful of times at conventions, her particular brand of sardonic optimism was an inspiration.
A lot of the time, women feel like we have to be perfect in public. There’s a saying to the effect that women have to be twice as good to be considered the equal of their male peers. Carrie Fisher had zero time for that crap. She was true to herself, flaws and all. She encouraged those living with mental illnesses to get help, stay strong, and give themselves credit for staying in the fight. As far as legacies go, hers is pretty damned good.
Goodbye, General. You will be missed.
I had the opportunity to meet Carrie at New York Comic Con this past October, but I didn’t take it because I couldn’t afford it. Now I wish I had scraped together the money. It’s not something you consciously think of, when you attend conventions regularly, that you had better do it then because you might not get the chance again.
Star Wars and Princess Leia were fundamental aspects of my childhood. I don’t remember how old I was, but I distinctly remember one summer where I watched at least one of the original trilogy every day for quite a while. Leia is a strong, independent, intelligent woman who doesn’t have time for your nonsense, and she’s a character I aspire to emulate, even if I often fall spectacularly short. But Carrie Fisher as an actual person has meant more to me than her fictional counterpart could ever hope to achieve. She was so much more than Princess Leia. She was witty and unabashedly herself, in a way that women aren’t “allowed” to be. She spoke candidly about issues that many consider taboo, and she strived to make the world a better, funnier place. If I can live my life half as well as she did, I’ll be satisfied.
I was introduced to Carrie Fisher through the Star Wars trilogy when I was way too young. Back then, the only thing I remember about her was how awesome she was in the films – she knew how to fight and was an important character in the Star Wars lore. However, after that I didn’t get to reconnect with her until I was in my first semester of graduate studies. Being interested in mental health, I found out about Carrie Fisher’s struggles with her own mental wellbeing. I saw her picture and I could tell that she looked familiar. Realizing that she was Princess Leia only made me like her more.
Over the years I saw a woman who wasn’t afraid of speaking her mind and advocating for what’s right. She accepted her mental health and made it something to be proud of. Carrie Fisher was also a strong feminist voice in geek culture. She was a role model for numerous people out there. Furthermore, she is also regarded as an accomplished script doctor. I do feel that she still had a lot to share with the world and has gone too soon. All I can say that I feel fortunate to live in a time where I was able to see her being the amazing person that she was.
I’m a child of the 80s and my parents raised me on their favorites: Ghostbusters, Back to the Future, and Star Wars. I watched them over and over as a child. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know who Princess Leia was. Star Wars wasn’t just a big part of my childhood, but a significant part of my adult life as well. I had always liked Carrie in her roles in Star Wars and Blues Brothers, but I really began to appreciate her as a person over the past couple of years.
Her presence on Twitter was what made me want to know about her as a person. She spoke her mind, which is something I heavily value. I began reading her books. I even purchased the audio for one of her books to hear her read it in her own voice. It really added to the story of her life. She has always been very candid about what it was like to grow up in Hollywood and not holding back about what it is really like. She was a wonderful feminist who overcame addiction and has fought mental illness. Her outspokenness for mental health is perhaps what I admire most about her. Her words are a source of strength for so many living with mental illness, including myself. I’m going to miss you Carrie, but I will not forget you.
This is such a weird thing to write, because my stories no different from anyone else’s. I’m just another girl staring with wide eyes wonder as the ‘princess’ became the sci-fi hero of my dreams. One of millions. And you know what? That’s bloody brilliant. Isn’t that brilliant? So many people all shaped and touched by one incredible person! That’s just a million heart emojis.
It hurts, don’t get me wrong. Losing someone as significant as Carrie Fisher – to me personally and to society as whole – that burns. But it is damn reassuring to know there’s an army of women out there who grew up with Carrie Fisher as their role model. Carrie Fisher taught me I could be my own hero when I was 8 years old and dreaming of stars and fantasy, then in my 20s she became my comrade in fighting mental illness. That’s pretty amazing and I’m just one person! Imagine that a million times over.
Carrie Fisher is such an A+ human and it sucks that she’s gone, but the army of women she inspired that I’ve seen sharing their version of this exact same story over the past couple days makes me so proud, and I think it would tickle her too. Mourn with me as we celebrate Carrie: she gave us hope, strangled Jabba the Hutt, made most of the movies you love actually good, shared all the mess of mental illness, banged Harrison Ford in his prime, and finally drowned in moonlight, strangled by her own bra. Vale Carrie.
Feel free to share your own thoughts about/experiences with Carrie Fisher in the comments, but please be mindful of our comment policies.
Author: Tara Lynne
Tara Lynne is a fandom and geek culture expert, public speaker, and character cosplayer who is best known for her Cersei Lannister (Game of Thrones), Starbuck (Battlestar Galactica), and Andrea (The Walking Dead) cosplays. She founded Ice & Fire Con, the first ever Game of Thrones convention in the US, and now runs its parent company Saga Event Planning.