David Bowie, Prince, Alan Rickman, Muhammad Ali, George Michael and too many more: 2016 has not been kind to our favourite childhood heroes. Indeed, the number of celebrities gone too soon this year seems endless.
For me, nothing hit home quite as hard as the tragic passing of Carrie Fisher this week, at the age of 60. Best known of course for her portrayal of Princess Leia in the Star Wars saga, for many she was a role model both on and off-screen.
Symbol of Hope
Fisher’s performances in the space opera gave young girls the world over a strong-willed, feisty woman to look up to at a time when their place in Hollywood was confined to the role of passive damsel in distress. For many, she is one of the greatest female role models of all time.
As a little boy she was one of my first crushes. Most importantly, Leia is a shinning symbol of hope and perseverance in the face of apparently insurmountable challenges. She is the base on which the rebel alliance is built, and represents a modest yet tenacious kind of determination which I always admired, and even try to live by.
Behind the funky hair buns, Carrie Fisher’s real battles with drug addiction, depression and bipolar disorder were struggles she never shied away from discussing openly. For years, she had been a key player in confronting the taboo of mental health.
Since her death, there has been an outpoor of love and testimonies from both celebrities and randomers. Her brave and remarkably unusual honesty on very personal issues helped many people face up their own demons.
Like most actors who hold iconic roles, Fisher will remain mostly known for Star Wars. But she was also a respected writer, witty satirist an underrated screenwriter. She was very funny, and great with fans. Her countless, eccentric interactions with them on Twitter spoke volume of how down to earth and grateful she was.
Part of the family
Some may find it a bit weird to be upset about the death of someone you never personally knew. But when they’re one of few people or characters you dream up your childhood around, they feel a special and cherished part of the family.
A wise Jedi once said: “Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not”.
Easier said than done. Goodbye Princess, and thank you.