Today I want to talk about young love. Not the young love that one may feel when managing to sneak a kiss with the girl next door in the back of the car during a ride home from school (I was about five when I pulled that one off… always a ladies’ man), and not the love one feels when, as a teenager, he learns what that whole “getting to second base” euphemism is all about, but real, pure, deep, unmistakable love. I remember clearly when I first felt that love. It is a moment in my life that I will never forget. A young woman dressed all in white, wearing an admittedly bizarre hairdo, knelt down in front of what could best be described as a trash can with legs. She was strikingly beautiful. She had an important message to deliver, and my heart soared as she spoke one of the most memorable lines in film history.
Help me, Obi Wan Kenobi, you are my only hope.
Even now, more than thirty years later, I get the little tingle of goosebumps as I type it. Doesn’t it just ring with the promise of the grand adventure that was to follow? For me those ten words carry more weight than “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,” “Rosebud,” and “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” all rolled into one. It is even more memorable and exciting than “A census taker once tried to test me… I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.” The fact that they were spoken not by a middle-aged (or older) man but by a nineteen year old girl who was the daughter of one of the most beautiful women to ever grace the silver screen didn’t hurt either.
The psychological significance on Ms. Fisher’s kneeling position was lost on me at the time, as was the now clearly phallic significance of lightsabers (hey, I was ten… at that age a cigar is definitely just a cigar), and I was smitten. I began looking at fan magazines in the 7-11 store near my home, just hoping for a glimpse of the beautiful lady who played Princess Leia, yearning to glean whatever information I could about her. That was actually how I learned that she was nineteen when she appeared in Star Wars (yes it has since become Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, but to those of us who were there in 1977, it will always be Star Wars) and in my young mind she was nineteen ever since. I even reasoned with myself that a nine year age difference was really not all that much and if I could just meet her, she’d surely fall for my charms. Relax, I grew out of it. I do have to admit that I have wondered over the years whether that thought process is what set guys like John Hinkley, Jr. and Mark David Chapman on their paths with destiny.
For the record, I know that Carrie Fisher is no longer nineteen. And, in actuality, she wasn’t when I first saw her either. I’d neglected to take into account the time it takes to produce a film like Star Wars, and that ten year age difference is actually more like twelve. That means Carrie is fifty five now. I’m forty three. Sadly, she looks about ten years older than she is. If we believe her autobiographical novel Postcards From The Edge (Bono, Hawaii’s great – wish you were here, Edge), that’s what a life full of pills, booze, psychotherapy, and mommy issues will get you.
Carrie is still always recognized as Princess Leia, however, and she always will be. I remember reading that Fay Wray was still receiving fan mail related to her role in 1933’s King Kong as recently as the early nineties (she passed in 2004), and it made me wonder whether Carrie still gets letters from dudes interested in getting their hands on a pair of Leia’s Space Panties. I bet she does. I haven’t written her any letters recently, although I did write her one piece of fan mail back in about 1978 or so. One of those fan magazines I’d gawked at printed lists of where to write to famous people. They were mostly through PR firms or film studios, but imagine my joy when I found Carrie’s name listed there. I don’t remember exactly what I wrote, but I’m sure I commented on her beauty, talked about how much I loved Star Wars, and probably asked for some piece of film memorabilia such as a Star Wars poster. I was heartbroken when no reply (and no poster) ever arrived.
As I grew older and got interested in girls I could actually touch (well, ones I had a better shot at touching than I did a movie star anyway… in my early teens I’d lost most of that allure and charm that worked so well on Mary from next door when I was five – it was replaced by teenage awkwardness and severe acne), my love for Carrie/Leia faded a bit. Absence makes the heart grow fungus, I suppose. Of course every few years it got a shot in the arm when a new Star Wars movie came out. I was twelve in 1980 when The Empire Strikes Back was released. Leia spends a lot ofr that flick in snow gear though, not that sexy. Also that year also gave me The Shining and it was when I finally got to see Alien and I started cheating on Carrie Fisher with Sigourney Weaver.
I was nearing sixteen when Return of the Jedi was released however. That movie includes the infamous “Slave Leia” outfit (you know, gold bikini top, kind of half a skirt thing, chained to Jabba the Hutt), providing nerdgasms for so many of us pale, friendless virgins who spent more time playing Pac-Man and talking about Star Wars than, well, anything. But by then much of the allure was lost for me. I was just too interested in Other Things (like Sigourney Weaver in a skimpy tank top and army green panties and Pat Benatar and Debbie Harry and… well, you get it).
There were special places in my heart for Carrie and Sigourney and Pat and Sean Young and Daryl Hannah in Blade Runner (they were the perfect pair in that flick. Young provides the classy, sophisticated hottie while Hannah excites the cyberpunk Goth-lover in me) and so many others that it becomes impossible to name them all. But you never forget that first young love. Even if it doesn’t last forever… and when does it, really?
So. unfortunately, Carrie Fisher is no longer my Dream Girl. She is still Princess Leia Organa-Solo (one would assume – and it is confirmed in the fiction outside of Lucas’ movies), a leader of the Rebellion against the Empire, sister to Luke Skywalker, and the lady who doomed the planet of Alderan (and oh, the look of dejection she manages as she tells Peter Cushing’s Grand Moff Tarkin, “Dantooine… they’re on Dantooine.” such sadness in the eyes wasn’t pulled off on film again until Dobby the house Elf dies in 2010’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (oh… spoiler alert…). I think part of the reason Carrie slipped away from me is that she really just didn’t get a lot of work. Think about it, Star Wars made a lot of bank for a lot of people, but it pretty much killed the careers of most of its principal actors. The only one who had any kind of an actual career was Harrison Ford – probably because he was also the only one who could act – and he likely owes a lot of that, ironically, to George Lucas and Steven Spielberg for choosing him to play Indiana Jones.
Carrie did show up along with Mark Hamill (remember, he was Luke Skywalker?) in a cameo role in Kevin Smith’s (another forty-ish longtime Star Wars fan)2001 opus Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. I can’t help but wonder if Kevin made a pass at the aging Princess Leia, just hoping to recapture some of that “help me, Obi Wan” magic or maybe get his mitts on some of those Space Panties. I know she’s AARP age now and looks kind of like a foot, but if I was him, I would have. After all, who still looks like they’re nineteen thirty-some years later? There’s something sexy about older women and this IS Princess Leia we’re talking about here.