As someone who experienced the Star Wars franchise in his formative years only now that Carrie Fischer has passed on can I look back on my life and recognize how much she as an actress and a person impacted how I view things like female strength and beauty. If there are any feminists out there who are shaking their heads and clucking their tongues, just shove it. Like millions of people, I had zero impact on her life, but she had a non zero impact on mine.
My favorite role for her outside of Star Wars was in “Drop Dead Fred” which also had strong themes about women, femininity and strength.
So what I learned about women from Carrie Fischer.
1, Women are devious, and can manipulate men easily. Episode 4 is basically the story of a smart, intelligent, and powerful woman playing damsel in distress to get men to do what she needs them to do.
2, Women can be victimized by men (Vader and Jaba) but that doesn’t have to be permanent (escaping the Death Star and Cloud City, killing Jaba).
3, Smart women build consensus through leadership and sound arguments. Of course sometimes the soundest argument is, “you’ll get rewarded a lot when we get there.”
4, Looking vulnerable is not the same thing as being vulnerable. This is the infamous “slave Leia” outfit. She bid her time, and killed her captor in her escape. Her situation didn’t dictate her self worth, her self worth helped change her situation. Later on she lets herself be emotionally vulnerable to Solo, of her own accord.
5, Sometimes loss is a good thing in the long run. “Thank you Drop Dead Fred!” is what she exclaimed as she took a look at the insurance money….
6, People can get addicted to almost anything, including electroshock therapy.
7, Being the daughter of a movie star and being raised in and around Hollywood probably isn’t the healthiest way to grow into a well adjusted adult. Debbie Reynolds was a helluva woman herself, but kids who came of age in the 60s and 70s kinda had the odds of “well adjusted” stolen from them by circumstances.
8, Being open about depression and addiction is hard, and she did it with honesty and humility that is inspiring.
I’m sure that there are hundreds of thousands of men out there right now who are attracted to strong, independent women and get driven wild when that woman lets herself be vulnerable (Iliza Schlesinger got it right that men love vulnerability, it makes us feel powerful and masculine). And I’m positive that Carrie Fischer had a not insignificant role in creating the world where those men developed that allows women the freedom to be powerful princesses or damsels in distress as they see fit.
I will miss Carrie, she was a class act. I didn’t realize how bad I was going to miss her until the very end of Rogue One, but I choked up a little in the theater. May the Force be with her.