“Hey! I like your shirt,” the man in the produce section said.
“Thank you!” I smiled back. It has been years since anyone has complimented me on a T-shirt. In fact, it has been years since a stranger has complemented me on my appearance, period.
Then a man in the seafood aisle said, “I love your shirt!”
“Thank you!” I smiled even more. Twice in one day? I glanced down at the shirt and laughed to myself.
“Great shirt….,” the fellow on aisle six said as he nudged my arm.
The power of the force is strong with this shirt, apparently. Who knew wearing the original Star Wars movie poster on my chest could garner so much attention? AND apparently all of my fellow nerds were grocery shopping at the same store at the same time on Saturday.
I love that Star Wars is everywhere again.
And I love that new Star Wars movie.
I have heard more than once, though, how disappointed people were in Leia’s character in The Force Awakens, how they felt she could no longer act. Truthfully, I had not noticed that. I did marvel at how her face looks nothing like what it used to. Usually you see a resemblance in people, some remnant of their former self that ties them to the past as they age. If I ran into her in the grocery store now I would not have recognized her.
Appearances aside, I figured that her character was no longer the headstrong young woman who revelled in her power over men. Hell, she and Han didn’t even kiss. He only hugged her, for crying out loud. There is history there that we as an audience are not entirely privy to. Did they ever marry? Where is her character coming from? Her only offspring is responsible for so much suffering and death. Maybe she cannot allow herself to feel that emotion? Years of keeping that from tearing you apart would generate the character I saw. Guarded. Reserved. She is not intended to be full of emotion. She is a general. So if she came across seeming wooden, it made sense to me.
When I went back to see the movie a second time, I resolved to pay closer attention to her acting.
“Mommy! Han Solo is OLD. Why is he so old?” my daughter whispered loudly. The man sitting in front of us turned around and scowled at her and then at me.
“Mommy! Princess Leia is old, too!” She sounded downright horrified. “Is she still a princess?” Because, you know, old ladies cannot be princesses in little girl land.
Another dirty look came from the fellow in the seat in front of us. Then I realized that he looked familiar. The grocery store?
(I get it, sir. This is a religious experience for you. We are disturbing the balance in the force. I really am truly sorry. No! Not the light saber!!!! Ow! My hand!)
Watching Leia a second time, I paid more attention to her. Her face really isn’t as expressive. Her lips and eyebrows don’t move like they used to. They were right. She isn’t acting as well because she CAN’T.
It struck me how much pressure she must have felt. The world has remembered her for decades as the nubile bikini clad goddess/slave in Jabba’s palace. How many millions of boys and grown men have masturbated to that image? No, really. You know you have. Multiple times, I bet. Nothing to be ashamed of…
If you read recent interviews with her, you get a sense of her sadness. Her body isn’t the same. Her age shows. She knows this. She doesn’t like it. How old is she now? What kind of work did she get done on her face over the years? For this role? Botox? Fillers? Peels? Surgery?
She is not the same woman. Her face is not the same face. She has experienced unmeasurable heartache, both on screen and off, real and imagined.
And then there must be some jealousy, watching her co-star, Harrison Ford, still revered as a sex icon, knowing the world no longer feels that way about her. They cannot. It is one of the unwavering, uncompromising truths about aging for women.
You may have other opinions and by golly you are entitled to them. For my part, though, I don’t think all of this criticism is about Carry Fisher. Not really. She looks pretty damn good, considering. The reason people don’t like her is that she reminds us all that we, too, are growing old. The young me would have judged her harshly. Now, as I am getting older, I too feel that panic twisting in my gut when I see my youth slipping away in the mirror.
I understand and am trying to find my own peace with it.