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Nerdist Remembers Carrie Fisher

Nerdist Remembers Carrie Fisher

When the news broke that Carrie Fisher died, the Internet rose up as one and cried out with sadness. Our princess, our General, is gone. Here at Nerdist, the mourning felt quieter, more intimate. For many of us, Star Wars and the community that grew on the Internet around science fiction, books, movies, and what may be labelled by the world as “nerd culture” is home, and Carrie Fisher has always been there.

How do we go forward without our general, the woman who told us to be anyone we felt we needed to be and wasn’t afraid to sass a stormtrooper? Below, Nerdist writers reflect and remember the woman who was so much more than a metal bikini or a single role. She was a universe all rolled up into one.

Nerdist writers remember…

“Many of us grew up on stories of fairy tale princesses, waiting to be rescued, with no more skills to their name than looking pretty and maybe attracting birds and squirrels. I was very, very little when Star Wars came out, so I was right in the middle of all of that. In the midst of the tulle and ribbons walked Princess Leia, a kick ass chick who stood right in front of the bad guy and gave him what for. This was no princess I knew about. She didn’t gush over her rescuers. She took over the rescue! She was a Rebel leader, a Senator…wait, what? She changed everything for me. She showed me that I wasn’t supposed to wait around for anything. I was supposed to fight for what I believe in. If help comes, great. If not, well, I’d fight on anyway. May the Force be with you, General.” – Jenna Busch

“All of my early Carrie Fisher memories are forever tied to Star Wars, but her influence touched many areas of life. She taught generations of people that it’s okay to be yourself, flaws and all. But right now I mostly keep thinking that there would be no Buffy Summers without Leia Organa. Carrie Fisher’s gutsy portrayal of a young Princess and veteran General in space inspired the creation of so many strong female characters to follow.” – Jessica Maria MacFarlane

“While Star Wars was huge to me, I was always more into the villains and ambiguous or flawed characters than the straight-arrow good guys (listen, YOU try going through life with every human being you meet saying ‘Luke, I am your father!’), so when it comes to Carrie Fisher, rather than remember her forever as Princess Leia, I like to remember her as what she became: a smart, witty writer and unabashed public speaker who gave no f**ks if people judged her for being who she was, because she OWNED it. All too often, we exalt a supposed ‘political incorrectness’ that’s really just nastiness, but by backing up her gloriously loud mouth with her openness about mental illness, addiction, and agnosticism–things you aren’t supposed to discuss in polite company, but that some people desperately need to hear about–Carrie Fisher became a real-world hero.” – Luke Thompson

“Carrie Fisher was a role model for girls, for tomboys, for nerds, and for people struggling to manage their mental illness, but on top of all of that, she was a role model for aging. As a kid, I found myself excited to grow up if it meant I could follow a path like hers: become tougher, seek revenge on the villain who puts you in chains, whittle your witty remarks, deal with heartbreak à la When Harry Met Sally… with a good sense of humor, and, most importantly, let your personality define your character. The older she got, the stronger, tougher, and more open Fisher became. We can only hope to do the same.” – Nina Corcoran

“Princess Leia was the first character I remember being introduced to who was not simply a princess, but a brave, smart, capable, and fiercely independent champion. I was A New Hope Leia for Halloween in grade school, and I used to ride my bike around town, pretending to be Return of the Jedi Leia zooming across Endor on a stolen Imperial speeder. Leia may be fictional, but it was Carrie Fisher who brought her to life in a way no one else could have. Fisher was a remarkably bright woman, whose candor, strength, and humor—even when discussing deeply personal matters—will be sorely missed.” – Juliet Bennett Rylah

“Carrie Fisher was fun, kind, a free spirit, and her obsession over her dog made me love her even more than I already did. I am so thankful for her bravery and all the work she’s done to try and end the stigma behind mental illness. She spoke her mind and wasn’t afraid of a fight. She brought a spark and magic to the role of Leia Organa, and gave us one of the most amazing female characters in science fiction. She will be truly missed.” – Kendall Ashley

“To me, Leia was always the hero of the Star Wars films, and Carrie a hero of real life. Luke ran away to an island, hiding out of fear of who he might become–(remember this, Rey, even if he is your dad!)–but Leia, like Carrie, faced reality head on, becoming what she (and subsequently others) needed to be. She wasn’t driven by ego, she saw injustice and took it upon herself to fight it head on. That’s what a real hero does. Carrie saw the absurdity of life and the circumstances she found herself in and turned them into gold. She wrote passionately and ferociously, and she lived even harder, learning and loving and laughing all the while, bringing us better books, better films, and better mental health awareness than we would’ve had without her. She never wavered, her attitude never faltered, and there was no weakness to her tenacity. Carrie wasn’t just strong, she was living strength–a human conduit for entertainment and catharsis taken from her very real pain. Whether playing daughter, mother, script doctor, playwright, princess, or general: Carrie Fisher gave us hope in the face of absurdity and strength when so many others would simply take flight.” – Alicia Lutes

“Carrie Fisher created one of pop culture’s great icons. Growing up, society told me princesses were just an object of desire. A thing you rescued from a castle or a dragon. With Princess Leia, Fisher shattered that image. She was the ultimate badass. Never afraid, strong when everyone else was weak, a leader and a warrior. She choked out Jabba the Hutt, people. Fisher was somebody that everyone could, and did, look up to. After watching Star Wars as a kid, I remember thinking, “Damn, I wanna be a princess. They kick all kinds of butt.” When I played the Star Wars roleplaying game for the first time, my character was a royal dignitary I modeled after Princess Leia. My friends were Jedi and bounty hunters, I was a badass princess and I loved it. Hell, a part of me still wants to be a princess, and that’s because Fisher made it the most powerful thing in the world.” – Benjamin Bailey

“Being a little gay boy who loved sci-fi, I never really related to the hyper masculine heroes of the genre, as much as I might have enjoyed stories about them. And then, Princess Leia came into my life, and she was everything. Smart, sassy, sarcastic, but also caring, and a capable leader who takes crap from no one. When Leia is first introduced in Star Wars, she’s standing up to and giving attitude to a terrifying seven-foot-tall man clad in black armor, and she’s not even blinking as he stares her down and tries to intimidate her. She simply ain’t havin’ it. That’s who I wanted to be. I might have told the other kids on the playground I was pretending to be Luke or Han…but I was really pretending to be Princess Leia. And when the kids bullied me and called me names and reminded me how I was not like them, I did my best to channel my inner Leia, and use my wits and smart mouth to fight them, Leia Organa style. As a kid I worshipped the character, but as an adult, I’ve done my best to channel my inner Carrie Fisher, the real person, and have tried to be as smart, witty, and self deprecating as she was. She showed that if you can’t laugh at yourself, then life just isn’t worth living. I am who I am in no small part to Carrie Fisher and what she represented in the world, and will be forever grateful.” – Eric Diaz

“Carrie Fisher was my hero, plain and simple. She was my role model as Princess (and later General) Leia, fighting against seemingly insurmountable odds, and she was my inspiration as Carrie, offering up refreshing honesty about her struggles. Over the years since my Star Wars fandom first took root I’ve learned so much about Fisher–through her writing, her interviews, her unsung contributions–and yet it still feels like we all only managed to scratch the surface of her impact on our lives. Carrie Fisher taught me to be daring, to be brave, to be bold and to be unapologetic about it all. Her heart was truly a kyber heart, the strongest of them all.” – Carly Lane

“Long before I could admit to myself, or even really understand, that I didn’t want to dress or look or act like a boy, I saw in Leia Organa exactly what I wished I could be. As a beautiful princess leaping from planet to planet in a huge-scale intergalactic adventure, Leia was enchanting from the ground up. But Carrie Fisher, uniquely self-possessed and enduringly confident in her portrayal of the character–and, as we’d all come to know, her life beyond the screen–helped to turn a desperately buried wish into something I’d eventually realize I could be proud of. Now, I never feel stronger than when bringing Leia out from within me.” – Michael Arbeiter

“What is there to say about Carrie Fisher that hasn’t already been said? She was funny, brave and so damn beautiful on the inside and out. A badass princess on the screen, a kick-ass writer behind the scenes and a trailblazer in every sense of the word, I’ll never forget her heart, her vulnerability, her honesty, and her resolve to no longer compromise her values in an industry where people do that all too easily. Thanks for being you, Carrie.” – Keisha Hatchett

“Above all, Carrie Fisher was an inspiration to me to get up and keep going. Facing criticism? Eff it. People telling you to be, as she said, “tilty and squeezy?” Screw ’em. I listened to her speak on a few panels and learned from her sharp and acerbic wit, her brutal honesty, and her intelligence. She was a force of nature; she faced adversity and did so with pizzazz–we should all hope and aspire to do the same.” – Amy Ratcliffe

Fisher died on December 27th after suffering a massive cardiac event shortly before Christmas while traveling from London to Los Angeles. She will live on in the scripts she doctored, the books she wrote, the films she starred in, and the glorious Twitter presence that she embraced in her final years. We will miss her forever, but something tells this nerdy writer that somewhere–buoyed by the Force, perhaps–Carrie Fisher will be with us, always.

Share your memories of Fisher with me on Twitter @bookoisseur or in the comments below.

Image: Lucasfilm

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