Why the Legacy of Carrie Fisher Matters Now More Than Ever
Her lifeÍs work and inspiration spanned galaxies.
Carrie Fisher, an actress so iconic as to be irreplaceable, has died, and I am absolutely shattered.
In a statement to People, her spokesperson said:
It is with a very deep sadness that Billie Lourd confirms that her beloved mother Carrie Fisher passed away at 8:55 this morning. She was loved by the world and she will be missed profoundly. Our entire family thanks you for your thoughts and prayers.
I’m a male in my 30s, and I grew up loving the Star Wars franchise. Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia was one of the first female leads I remember and one of the first celebrity crushes I ever had. Her character is fascinating, starting out as the princess to a destroyed world before falling for the “stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder” and becoming the leader of the successful Rebellion. She was captured by a giant space slug and forced into sexual slavery before killing her slave-master with the chain he forced her to wear around her neck.
Carrie Fisher played and formed a truly iconic role—a role that no other actress has come close to encompassing. Even the additional Star Wars movies have failed to create a character so equally regal, likeable and dynamic. More than that, however, she was instrumental in creating the character of Princess Leia and shaping what we saw on screen. She was also Hollywood royalty—the daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher—and yet she didn’t act like it. Her legacy extended far beyond the fame she received from her parents and the Star Wars franchise.
Carrie Fisher also led a fascinating life, championing mental health—something I deal with myself. Fisher was very open about her own mental health, as she suffered from bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression. “I used to think I was a drug addict, pure and simple—just someone who could not stop taking drugs willfully,” Fisher once told Diane Sawyer. “And I was that. But it turns out that I am severely manic depressive.”
In fact, Fisher’s outspoken battle with mental health and her advocacy helped many. Speaking out at a time when mental health and depression were taboo topics, Carrie Fisher allied herself with many people around the world who suddenly found they had a celebrity advocate. Fisher wrote and spoke about her mental illness, and her struggle with mental health is reflected throughout her books and most explicitly so in her first memoir, Postcards from the Edge.
When I heard that Carrie Fisher had gone into cardiac arrest on December 23, I was legitimately upset. When I found out she had passed away, I was on the verge of tears. Why did this Hollywood icon’s death impact me and so many others?
On the surface, one might think it’s quite natural: We love our heroes and icons and mourn their death. It would be natural to mourn such a life. We’ve also now lost one of the original three main stars of the Star Wars franchise—three of the most iconic fictional characters ever conceived in any medium.
But God is very clear as to who should be at the center of our lives: “Do not trust in nobles, in man, who cannot save. When his breath leaves him, he returns to the ground; on that day his plans die.” (Psalm 146:3-4)
This year, we have lost so many icons. There will be those who decry the excessive attention paid to celebrities and the lack of attention paid to those dying elsewhere, but that is to miss the point. The death of an icon is different—whether that is a good thing or not. What we do with it is what is important.
As believers in Jesus Christ and an eternal life after death, we must put things into perspective.
There can only be one life at the center of our lives: God. Everything and everyone is His creation, and is not deserving of worship or praise, except as we direct the worship and praise to God. We must ensure in our own hearts and minds that we are not elevating celebrities (or family, friends, etc) above God in our lives.
In the end, that is all we can ever do: Pray to God; exalt Him only and seek His will. To do otherwise is to let icons become idols.