Carrie Fisher, born to Hollywood legend Debbie Reynolds and the late singer Eddie Fisher, first made it into most people’s consciousness as an intergalactic princess. This, of course, was and remains true, but she is so much more than the one Lucas created. Like Tina Fey’s Liz Lemon reminded us in 30 Rock, Fisher’s was the thinking woman (and man’s) icon — sharp, funny, warm.
Fisher’s first novel, Postcards From The Edge, documented the toll Hollywood had on her, manifesting itself as a drug addiction. She would later realise, as many do, that this was part of a self-medication cycle for her mental illness. At a time when admitting to such an affliction caused great stigma, let alone publicising it, Fisher led the way with awareness and towards acceptance. A later account of her progress, in 2008’s Wishful Drinking, explained her condition with hilarious and honest detail. Wonderful accounts of her work as a mental health leader have already been compiled and are well worth pursuing further. Her advocacy work was promotion she didn’t have to do, and at times must have made her life that much harder, and yet she continued on. Inspiring.
Wishful Drinking became a stage show in 2010. In addition to talking about her family life and illness (and welcoming others who had previously “received invitations to mental hospitals” to take a bow), she also spoke in delicious and terrifying detail about the systematic abuse of her image the Lucas machine continued to impose. Her young, scantily clad image had been made into everything from a Pez dispenser to Mr Potato Head and, unsurprisingly (but quite scarily), a sex doll. All without her consent — well, beyond a vague contract she signed during a time when Lucas gave advice like “you can’t wear a bra in this scene because there’s no underwear in space”. It led her to make a request for her own obit in response — requesting that when she finally died she wanted Lucas’ words reimagined into the headline — “I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra”.
In a wonderful reclamation Fisher used a creepy life-sized Leia sex-doll in her Wishful Drinking show, lowering it to the floor and begging us, hilariously, to find something even vaguely sexy about it. She even invited an audience member to come and ‘put on the Leia hair’ in an attempt to get the whole thing going a bit further — on the night we saw singer/songwriter Rufus Wainwright appear from the crowd to deny his dignity and don the costume in honour of her. Snippets of that fantastic show, and Fisher reclaiming her younger self, are being gently shared again now:
Fisher’s other film work include fabulous deadpan in When Harry Met Sally and Drop Dead Fred, however there really is a shopping list of guest and bit parts available for those needing to get their fix. Don’t forget her cameo in The Blues Brothers and her appearance as a nun ‘following the book’ in Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back was, well, both gifts to a new generation of nerds. She also made wonderfully unexpected cameos on TV in everything from Sex & The City to Weeds and Family Guy.
A wonderful writer and true artist, Fisher also helped develop the work of others, including working on the scripts of So I Married An Axe Murderer (1993), Sister Act (1992), The Last Action Hero (1993) and The Wedding Singer (1998). As Guardian journalist Jennifer Gerson Uffalussy put it, “her words made performers as diverse as Whoopi Goldberg, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Drew Barrymore all sound smarter and funnier”.
Unfortunately Fisher also put up with body-related shaming during her career — committing the cardinal sins of daring to age and change her shape over time. While her male co-stars ballooned, greyed and balded as their Makers intended, she was questioned. However, her bullshit detector remained a guiding light, and she spoke out for herself via social media and in the press. Both were met with floods of support by fans, too — proof that the machine is increasingly out of touch with the people.
Please stop debating about whetherOR not aged well.unfortunately it hurts all3 of my feelings.My BODY hasnt aged as well as I have.Blow us— Carrie Fisher (@carrieffisher) December 29, 2015
When news broke of Fisher’s mid-air heart attack a few days ago, a flood of love again washed across the airwaves of an often otherwise nasty internet. Many pleaded with this bloody horrible year not to take another, however, it seems, now was her time.
Divine until the end, and loved eternally. Now in the moonlight, with her bra wherever the hell she wants it to be.