Some awfully sad news; it has just been announced that Carrie Fisher has died aged 60. For boys of my generation, who grew up with Star Wars, Carrie and her Princess Leia made something of an impression- I was twelve at the time, and I’m pretty sure she was my first crush. Of course her sassy and confident, daring and heroic princess made a different impression on girls everywhere.
Its impossible to quantify the cultural impact Carrie and that character had. If you were around in 1977, 1978, when Star Wars hit- it is hard to explain now, in this era of the internet and social media and celebrity culture, people are almost immune to it, but back then, Star Wars was something wholly new, a global event that even Jaws a few years earlier could not equal. Surely that was something of a weight for her to carry. Although she had a ‘Hollywood Royalty’ background, fame such as that which Star Wars threw on her is of a scale that few people could be prepared for or able to handle. Her personal life following Star Wars was somewhat blighted by failed relationships. drug and alcohol abuse, mental health problems. She was only human.
She played other roles and wrote a number of books, but to me and many others she will always be Princess Leia from Star Wars.
1977 isn’t really all that long ago, and 60 is no age at all. Its been quite a shocking year for losing our icons. I’m sure stats can mean anything, and this is just an inevitable outcome of this generation and the one before it just running out of time, but really, Bowie, Prince, Rickman, so many others this year- Kenny Baker, the man inside R2D2, was another Star Wars actor who passed away this year. Part of me hopes that once 2016 is over, things might return to normal, whatever ‘normal’ is regards losing our icons, but the other part of me fears that this is just me getting older and those actors, writers and singers who I grew up with just getting older too- and that 2017 will just continue this sad and troubling trend.
A few months ago I started a list of all the authors I used to read, the actors I grew up watching on television and in movies, the singers whose music I listened to and bought, the artists whose artwork in comics and books I admired. When I looked at how many of them have passed since, well, I stopped making the list. It was like seeing all my life passing into shadow, all those people who had an impact on me all gone. There doesn’t really seem that many of them left. It was such a sobering and depressing observation.