Yesterday was one of those weird afternoons where you take a brief nap and, after waking, nothing seems quite right for an hour or so. The cobwebs seem too thick to push through and you’re left feeling like you’ve taken a bunch of cold medicine. As I was sitting there, trying to find solid ground again, I picked up my phone and began scrolling through Twitter, soon finding the news that Carrie Fisher had died. Suddenly I felt even more unsteady.
I don’t think Carrie Fisher was my first celebrity crush, but I do know I, like all the other boys my age at my school, was totally in love with her after seeing Star Wars. I’ve shared before how, the morning after I saw Star Wars for the first time, I went outside and sat on our front step and just stared into the distance, still trying to make sense of what I had seen. A healthy portion of that was caused by Fisher’s presence on the screen. I don’t think any of us ever lost that love for 1977 Carrie. I admired the way she lived her life after getting past her addictions in the mid–80s. She was smart, funny, outspoken, courageous, and brutally honest about her many failures and battle with mental illness. I can’t think of a better way to publicly live a flawed life.
On Christmas Day it was George Michael who died and sent a wave of shock through Gen X. I was never a huge Wham! fan, or George fan in general. But I did love a handful of his songs. I listened to the first half of Faith yesterday. Those first four songs are an amazing reminder both of the times – when epic albums filled with massive hits were common – and Michael’s talent. He also lived a flawed life. Like Fisher he battled the expectations of fame, and fought to hold onto his sanity and manage his career on his terms. Word has it he was very generous and shared his wealth with many organizations that helped others, often doing it with minimal or no publicity.
I wrote on Facebook yesterday that, now that our generation has reached middle age, the heroes of our youth are climbing into their old age years. And they seem to be slipping away with shocking frequency. As upsetting as their deaths are, they also make sense. Muhammad Ali was 74. David Bowie was 69. Fisher 60. Prince 57. Michael 53. While the last three were still fairly young, they’re also into the years when the actuarial tables begin to catch up with them. Especially when they’ve often lived rather hard lives thanks to the trappings of fame. That doesn’t make these loses any easier.
I wrote in April that Prince’s death was the first celebrity death that ever floored me. It still shocks me when I’m walking through the grocery store and I hear “Raspberry Beret,” as I did last week, and I am reminded that he’s gone. While not to the same extent as with Prince, I did have a few moments of genuine sadness yesterday after learning of Fisher’s death. And I’m beginning to dread learning who is next.
- “Everything She Wants,” “Faith,” “I Want Your Sex,” “Father Figure.” ↩