|Taken from Wikipedia.|
Carrie Fisher, Princess Leia Organa herself, has died today in a Los Angeles hospital. While not completely shocking – given that she had a massive heart attack a few days ago – it’s still gutting to hear about this death in a year that’s become infamous for the sheer amount of pop cultural icons just up and dying, seemingly out of nowhere. (At least there was some warning that she was ill.)
I don’t think I can contribute too much to the tributes that will be paid to Fisher over the next couple of days. Instead, I’ll try and connect it to a (rather small) aspect of this blog. I mentioned last year, when Leonard Nimoy died, that without him, several more logical characters in sci-fi wouldn’t exist. The same could very well be said of Carrie Fisher and badass women in science fiction.
Don’t get me wrong – there were probably quite a few kickass ladies in science fiction before A New Hope. However, with Princess Leia, mainstream audiences got a taste of a leading lady – a Princess, even – that wasn’t merely a damsel in distress – that she was an active participant in the rebellion, shooting and plotting against the Empire alongside Luke. She wasn’t some prize for the hero to win (for good reason, as per the end of The Empire Strikes Back.) Leia Organa was a character in her own right – and was so endearing, she returned nearly forty years later for The Force Awakens.
I don’t often talk about gender on this blog, mainly because I feel like it’s secondary to whether or not I enjoy an art. However, I wonder – would we have gotten endearing badass women in sci-fi such as post-70s Uhura, Turanga Leela, Rey, Princess Bubblegum, Ace McShane, and 80% of the characters in Steven Universe? (That’s just off the top of my head.) I don’t really know.
All I know is that Carrie Fisher was something of a trailblazer for the industry. While she took up many roles over the years – even in silly sitcoms such as Family Guy – it was as Leia that she has left her mark on science fiction.
May the force be with you, Carrie Fisher.