author: annie trussler | op-ed editor
I am one with the Force, the Force is with me. I am one with the Force, the Force is with me. Carrie is one with the Force, the Force is with her. This has become a bit of a prayer to me – a deep, Star Wars-induced mantra that brings me comfort when I, again, come to the realization that my hero has disappeared from the universe (physically, of course, since we all know Carrie Fisher has returned to the stars where she belongs).
I have never hidden my Star Wars fanaticism, and I’ve never wanted to. I firmly hold on to the belief that there isn’t any shame in liking something, unless that “something” directly or indirectly results in the harm or mental discomfort of someone else; so, unless Luke Skywalker is haunting the nightmares of my close friends, I see no reason to be quiet about my profound involvement in this larger-than-life series.
Christmas had barely closed behind me when I discovered the undeniable: the indomitable Carrie Fisher had joined the Force, like her fictional father before her. Now, before anyone raises an eyebrow and passes this loss off as another celebrity death, I urge you to take a moment to understand what this woman, what her legacy, meant for so many voiceless people.
Fisher was severely mentally ill. So much so, it was the focus of many of her books, public discussions, and personal memoirs. Her bipolar disorder, which she kindly explained to a child as “going faster than others,” led to the ownership of Gary the emotional support dog, who is grieving on Twitter to this day. Fisher’s unabashed, and might I say, eloquent treatment of her illness in the face of endless media scrutiny gave hope to so many that felt limited by an illness no one else could see.
The same may be said for addicts of all kinds, all shapes, and all forms. Anyone who has relied on something beyond themselves for peace of mind has, inevitably, turned to Carrie for a promise that addiction does not equal failure. As an admitted cocaine addict of many years, Fisher, coupled with her mental illness, has proudly boasted these seeming “vices” of hers are little but creative fuel. She has attributed strength, power, and resilience to herself, and by extension, all of those around her suffering and battling through what so many refuse to empathize with.
Now, these are impediments that may be known by anyone, but having known the height of her fame in the late seventies to early eighties, perhaps her greatest impediment of all was that of womanhood. Having been told to lose 35 pounds (or almost a quarter of her body weight at that time), having been subjected to rampant media misogyny, having been reduced to a “sex toy in a metal bikini,” Carrie shone. Carrie conquered. Carrie wrapped a chain around the Hutt’s throat and said, “No, I win.” Carrie allowed for a generation, and endless generations after, to tie their hair up into buns, cock their blasters, look men dead in the face, and say, “No, I’m the hero.”
This death is worth far more than a “damn, 2016, slow down” post. This death signifies the loss of a hero for those of us who never had one: the mentally ill, the addicted, and the women of the seventies. This death means we will never read another Fisher memoir, we won’t watch her defend womankind against malicious media portrayal, we won’t see our beloved princess kick ass in a galaxy near, far, or anywhere in between.
This article is less of an opinion piece as it as an homage, a memorial, a reminder to all of us that there are people that fail, that struggle, that suffer, and still emerge Princess of Alderaan, General of the Resistance, a hero, a writer, a philosopher, a mother, and a friend. This is simply a reminder to all of us out there who are plagued by an Empire of our own, be it crippling depression, be it cocaine or prescription pills, how we choose to identify, our weight, our hobbies, how loud our voices are: Carrie fought for us, Carrie won, and she died a hero for a cause none of us ever asked to fight. I am one with the Force, the Force is with me. You are one with the Force, the Force is with you.