I know.: RIP Carrie Fisher

A lot of people died in 2016. A lot of them were really famous and inspiring, but two of them were my great aunt and grandmother, so that’s keeping the celebrity deaths in perspective. (Seriously, the angel of death seemed really cruel this year.)

But I guess we couldn’t be left very well alone in the last 4 days of the years, because now Carrie Fisher is among them.

Back in the early, early days of starting this blog, I wrote about Princess Leia, and the blurry lines between second and third wave feminism as I saw it then. (I’ve grown a lot in the past five years.) Leia has meant a lot to me as a writer, a fan, a critic and a woman. Carrie Fisher’s writing means more. (I’ve got kind of a thing about acerbic troubled ladies from that generation. I’m also deeply into Norah Ephron, who is also gone. Well, SHIT.) I’ve spent a lot of time in the past decade trying to decide what kind of writer I wanted to be, and it was in finding memoir that it all finally clicked, and Wishful Drinking was a huge part of that.

I didn’t read the book but I watched the one woman show and was blown away by it’s bizarre mix of depressing self disclosure and hilarious self deprication. It was one large step towards the realization that “This is what I want to do.” I still had far to go, and I wound up a good deal less confessional, but my life is also a whole lot less interesting than hers was.

Her fearlessness in the face of aging and mental illness and addiction was remarkable and her wit and strength was incredible.

I’m writing this while watching When Harry Met Sally, because I want to remember that this woman, this indomitable woman was so much more than the one character who defined her. But I do want to talk about Princess Leia Organa, General Organa, the icon the light in every nerd girls life. Yes, we’ve dealt with fridging and Gamergate and being Smurfettes and damsels, but we had Leia. We had this beacon of strength and fire and fight and compassion and joy and love. Leia the Hutt slayer, Leia the princess, Leia the senator, Leia the general.

Every time I write a female character I make sure that she lives up to Leia. Not in the same ways, but she has to have at least as much agency, plot impact and personality. Otherwise, what’s the point?

2016 wasn’t the worst year of my life, but it wasn’t great. I fought through a baseline of depression, a job that I hated and the loss of two of the women who’d inspired me my whole life, right in my own small world. And now the world at large has lost yet another shining light that had meant so much to so many of us.

Yesterday I wrote the following: May the Force Be With You. We Know.

“I know” symbolizes “I love you” second only to “As You Wish” in my book. So that’s what I’m going with to say goodbye to Carrie Fisher, We Know. We love you. Thank you for all of it.

Rest in Peace, drowned in moonlight, strangled by her own bra.

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Nowhere Special…I always wanted to go there

gene-wilder-blazing-saddlesGod, 2016 sucks for celebrity death, huh?

So, now we’ve lost Gene Wilder as well. I could go on about his work more than just about any of the others. Seriously.

But I just keep coming back to Blazing Saddles, a movie that, no matter what’s happening in my life, is going to make me laugh my ass off.

A lot of people are going to talk about Wonka today. (And they should, he’s spectacular there), but I just want to leave you with an image of The Waco Kid.

Thanks for the laughs, Mr. Wilder. Hope you’re finally nowhere special!

 

Genies, Drag Show, and Stolen Lines

I don’t normally Euologize here. I’ve done it a few times when I felt particularly rocked by a death, and this one definitely qualifies.

It’s bizarre to think about the fact we now live in a world where Robin Williams doesn’t.

Suicide, depression and addiction are awful, but I also don’t know enough about them or mental illness to comment on them, but PLEASE seek help if you’re feeling that way. Please.

Anyway, one of the main things that I’m seeing from various other posts and articles is something that I hadn’t even thought of.

For many people my age, Robin Williams was our first movie star.

As soon as I saw that I was baffled, and it’s absolutely true. His was the first name and face that we would see on a poster and demand to be taken to that movie. I recall my sister begging as a child to go see The Birdcage, because of how much she loved Robin Williams.

We didn’t see The Birdcage for years, but we’ll get there.

Hours were spent watching Aladdin and Hook and Jumanji. We used to take these car trips down to Atlanta as a family. We would plug a TV with a VCR into the cigarette lighter. (Now putting a movie on for children on a long trip is common place, but it was a huge luxury at the time. There was one trip where we must have watched Jumanji 17 times, not to mention the amount of time we spent watching it while we were in Atlanta. Which was probably about 7.

I’m exaggerating, but it sure feels like we watched that movie a lot.

And of course there’s The Genie. Aladdin along side it’s sisters and brother The Little Mermaid, Beauty and The Beast and The Lion King changed lives and tastes. There’s just no getting around that. And Robin Williams as the Genie was such a massively huge part of that, that Disney spent years trying to repeat that glory with other sidekicks and secondary characters. (The closest they came was Eddie Murphy as Mushu The Dragon) But nothing could ever touch it, it was magic.

The Birdcage came for me in high school. It was one of those movies that was on TV constantly and it was so funny. It’s also, miraculously one of Robin Williams’s more restrained comedic performances. He’s the straight man in that movie. I went home and watched it last night, because it’ll always be one of my favorites. But it’s also kind of amazing the way that families are portrayed in The Birdcage, and how the characters are widely and broadly drawn but not offensive. (I mean maybe Hank Azaria.) It’s such a remarkable move and a really remarkable performance by Robin Williams.

And of course I had to talk about Good Will Hunting, which is one of my favorite movies ever, and the movie that I often lie to strangers about and say is my actual favorite movie ever. Depending on the crowd, it’s slightly less embarrassing than saying, “anything where a guy in tights punches a bad guy, but not The Dark Knight, thanks,” or “D2: The Mighty Ducks, yes, D2. No, because the first one doesn’t have the Bash Brothers or Julie The Cat. You can’t write fanfiction about Connie and Guy!” (Just kidding, you can, and I have!) But I digress. That has nothing to do with Robin Williams, except that I really love what he brings to the movie. The scene where he and Stellan Skarsgaard yell at each other about Will’s future is so completely and unfathomably good.

And of course there’s Dead Poet’s Society, which would basically just send me into a tailspin of tears if I even dared to think about it right now.

Anyway, RIP Robin Williams, the world will miss you, we will miss you terribly.

 

RIP Tony Scott

You don’t actually have to look too hard to see the mark that the Scott brothers made on Hollywood and movies. Their production company Scott Free, produces some of the best action movies of all time.

But I just want to thank Tony Scott specifically, for directing one of my all time favorite movies.

This movie makes me think of the beach…

Top Gun is one of the greatest action movies ever. Is it terminally stuck in it’s moment? Sure. But it’s also fun, funny, surprisingly poignant and helped to give the world Tom Cruise. (We should say “Thank You,” because seriously, the man is always intensely entertaining…) It also created a sure-fire get my number scheme. Seriously, if a guy came up to me and sang, “That Lovin’ Feeling” in a bar, I would probably marry him that night…If he was a navy pilot, most certainly so. Anyway, it’s a great movie, is what I’m saying.

And I’m grateful to Tony Scott for making it happen. RIP sir.