Carrie Fisher: a Tribute

Image courtesy of Julie Gough from Illustrated Women in History.

Image courtesy of Julie Gough from Illustrated Women in History.

When someone famous dies, no matter how well you feel you know them, it's near impossible to do justice to their memory. You might've seen every Star Wars movie a hundred times over; you might've memorised Carrie's lines in When Harry Met Sally; Carrie's characters might feel like old friends. Nonetheless, our experience of her is only the tiniest sliver of who she was. It is a great loss that we couldn't know her better. Carrie Fisher is sort of unique in the fact that she gave us the gift of brave, honest discussion about her mental illness and addiction. We were able to know her a little better because of it, and I feel certain that her words were a lifeline for many. Carrie Fisher was hilarious. She tweeted incessantly about her dog Gary (her service dog, who supported her through her struggle with bipolar disorder), about politics (she openly scoffed at the absurdity of Donald Trump), and mental health. Carrie made people feel understood, and then she made us laugh. 

Bipolar disorder scares people. Anything that broaches 'the insane' as people know it terrifies them. So owning your madness is bold. When someone who is so beloved and known to the public is brave enough to step forward and put their face to mental illness, I think the tiniest bit of stigma against that illness diminishes. I feel safer as someone who suffers from mental illnesses, having idols like Carrie Fisher to look up to. It only hurts to think that after fighting for years to want to live (and beating addiction to boot) she should be taken from the world so soon. It seems so unfair that those who are mentally ill have to fight to want to live, and our predisposition to addiction, reckless behaviour, and self harm are fighting to kill us. Carrie Fisher overcame unimaginable obstacles in her life to reach her sixtieth year, and I try to comfort myself that that is probably longer than she thought she would get at one time. She was also able to reprise her legendary role as Princess Leia before she left the world, which at least brings some sense of closure perhaps to her career, and I hope she would have felt the same. 

It feels a little hollow to talk about how wonderful she was because like I said, I didn't have the joy of knowing her. There are far better qualified people than me to tell you about the beauty and significance of Carrie Fisher. Even better, scroll through her Twitter feed @carrieffisher, watch interviews with her and read about fan encounters with her. Read her books. The best way to know her impact is to experience it for yourself. She was a bright light that I think a lot of people will deeply feel the loss of. Whether that's as a layered and brilliant hero in the Star Wars series, as a mental health advocate, a vocal feminist, or a loved friend - she will not soon be forgotten. Remember her through her words as well as her acting career. And as she said to George Lucas, in response to a pointless sexist request - she wants to be remembered as having died 'drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra'.

It's hard to imagine a more fitting tribute than to remember her humour and defiance in the face of sexist nonsense. Rest in power, Carrie Fisher. 

Words by Sophie Jackson