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Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Force Is With Carrie Fisher and Me

By Ron Baxley




When Disney bought the "Star Wars" franchise, they inherited a different kind of princess, a feisty, independent one named Princess Leia played by the recently deceased Carrie Fisher. (In fact, some people are petitioning on the Internet to make her an official Disney princess.) Although Disney Avenue contributing writer Ron Baxley, Jr. will, of course, never be able to interview Ms. Fisher, he did write this tribute column shortly after her passing in December 2016 and has adapted it specifically for Disney Avenue readers. It is sure to resonate with many long time "Star Wars" fans…

As a “Star Wars” fan and science fiction geek and fantasy and science fiction author, the Force is with me. The Force was with Princess Leia actress Carrie Fisher too. But, sadly, she is no longer with us.




Source: Pinterest (one of Carrie Fisher’s head shots as an actress)




The devastating news of Carrie Fisher passing away hit me just two days after Christmas, Tuesday afternoon, Dec. 27. I always liked Carrie because of her Princess Leia role since I was a young boy in the 70s. When boys and girls would join in games in the schoolyard, the girls would play her. I would often play Hans Solo or Luke.




(c) Lucas Film




Her part would be acted out with action figures at home as well...








It was somewhat ironic that her passing occured so soon after the holidays because it was promised holiday gifts of “Star Wars” action figures that in the late 70s and 80s greater boosted interest in the classic film and sequels. Mel Brooks parodied this with all of his “Space Balls” merchandise banter in his parody of George Lucas’ first “Star Wars” film.

Though I mostly collected and played with He-man action figures, making stories/scripts for them and little drawings of new characters that better enriched my creative play when I was ages 8 to 11, I also asked for some “Star Wars” action figures and the Ewok Village and received them for Christmas when I was in fourth or fifth grade. I remember playing with the Leia figure and having her interact with the Ewoks in the motherly, protective way she did in the film.




Source: Pinterest (I think that may be Princess Leia in disguise at the bottom left of the box pic. Not all figures were included with the original playset.)




Next, Carrie Fisher was a feisty lady off and on the screen, and feisty ladies have always appealed to me. When I saw her destroy Jabba the Hutt by hoisting him with his own petard, the very chain he used to enslave her, I cheered her on at a mega-plex in Jacksonville, Florida with relatives.




(c) Lucas Film




When people decried the cos-player costume of Leia as a slave at sci-fi cons I attended as an author as demeaning to women, I quickly pointed out that she, in a mega-feminist move, rescued herself from Jabba the Hutt.

When there was controversy the past couple of years about a Princess Leia action figure being released in the slave garb that Jabba the Hutt had put Leia in, I concurred with Carrie Fisher that her character actually freed herself from her oppressor. The figure could be used, in proper context, as a positive symbol of freedom.

Even when I was a boy, I smirked and laughed at her smart replies and dialogue with eventual love interest Han Solo in the first film and in “The Empire Strikes Back.” One of my favorite lines from her involved her calling Han Solo a “stuck up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder.” (Hey, at times, I resemble that remark.)




Source: Pinterest




As an adult, I later learned that she suffered from bipolar disorder. She allegedly could be quite moody off and on the set and had some other alleged issues as well. The fact that she spoke out about having a bipolar disorder served to advocate for those with the condition.

As a long-time creative author, educator, and journalist, I too have suffered with the bipolar 2 diagnosis, the more stable version of bipolar, and anxiety and depression. Not only was the Force with Ms. Fisher and me, but mental illness was as well.

Multiple sources have confirmed that during her funeral service that a giant plastic container resembling a Prozac pill that she cherished was used to contain her ashes after cremation as per her wishes. Even after she left this world, she still advocated for mental health.

We have lost a great advocate for mental health, a feisty lady, a relatively new Disney princess, and an icon of popular culture science fiction. I picture a blue shimmering image of her spirit beside the movie version of her changed father. She has joined the ranks of the noble Jedi Knights and will forever be both princess and warrior to me for eternity. (As I close, please allow me to do a reversal of a classic dialogue interchange between Han and Leia.) I love you, Carrie Fisher. I know.




(c) Lucas Film






*******








S.C. native author and former 15-year educator Ron Baxley, Jr. has visited Disney World since he was three in 1978. His mother, Marleen Baxley, was originally from Jacksonville, Florida and had family there who facilitated going to Disney World. Ron has been invited as a guest author at Oz festivals and science fiction cons since 2010 and was recently awarded the honor of a lifetime membership by the International L. Frank Baum and All Things Oz Foundation in Chittenango, New York, birthplace of L. Frank Baum, in June for his lifetime Ozian achievements. Within the past year, Ron posted a social media article with photographs entitled simply “Dad and Disney” in which he compared a lifetime of experiences in the Magic Kingdom in Disney World with his Dad including his first-time experiences in Disneyland after attending as an authorial vendor at OzCon in San Diego in 2015. From having a plush Mickey Mouse as his favorite, earliest toy to watching Disney films, Ron has been a Disney fan as long as he has been a fan of “The Wizard of Oz.” If he is not occasionally traveling to the closest Disney Store outlet in Concord, N.C., he enjoys yearly trips to the Disney Parks and collects different types of Mr. Potato Heads there and elsewhere.

Ron recently went on board with Mad Hatter Adventures Company, a travel agency that specializes in Disney destinations, as a part-time outside sales contractor selling Disney vacation packages. Contact Ron at [email protected] for more information on Disney vacation packages and visit his Mad Hatter Adventures Facebook Page here.

Ron is an Oz, fantasy, science fiction, children's, and young adult author of 25 years and part-time correspondent/reporter for the Orangeburg “Times and Democrat” in Orangeburg, S.C. He has most recently had an article on Eugene and Eulie David, former M.G.M. Wizard of Oz “Munchkin” actors and brothers who lived in his hometown of Barnwell, S.C. published in the August - October 2016 issue of the glossy national magazine “Filmfax” after it appeared in three newspapers. He placed this article and a fictionalization of it as well as stories which followed his previously published Oz books in a brand new Oz fan-fic collection, After Th’Oz, available from Amazon. A full listing of his Oz, co-written Oz/Wonderland, fantasy, and science fiction books (some of which were traditionally published from Maple Creek Press) can be found by clicking here and information on his other projects and updates can be found at his author page, here.

You can find all of Ron's articles here.


2 comments:

  1. Fabulous article! Mr Baxley has captured the essence of Ms Fisher and his love for her. I look forward to reading his future articles!

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