editorials

For me, Carrie Fisher’s Leia was more than just ‘one of the boys’

For me, Carrie Fisher’s Leia was more than just ‘one of the boys’

I was somewhere around age 7 when I first saw A New Hope, then just known as Star Wars, and it ignited many things in my young mind. A love for storytelling, a love for science fiction specifically, and the stubborn insistence that lightsabers must exist somewhere regardless of what everyone said. It wasn’t until I watched Return of the Jedi, though, that Star Wars — and Carrie Fisher specifically — revolutionized my understanding of life and my place in it.

Star Wars was many things to me — a classic battle between good and evil, hope that the underdog could persevere against seemingly impossible odds, and, of course, a fun look at an imagined distant future. A New Hope reflected the world I’d perceived and known up to that point: boys having fun and being important and the one token girl being, well, a princess. An admittedly badass princess, but still.

It wasn’t that I didn’t appreciate the Princess Leia presented in A New Hope, but I didn’t see anything outside of what I knew as normal. She was exactly what I expected the princess to be. Luke was the special Jedi who got a lightsaber and a vital role in changing the galaxy. Han had a huge ship and all these connections amongst many worlds. Princess Leia needed help.

I’d declared at a young age that I wished I was a boy because boys were important and got to have the most fun. I had this idea of what a princess was, and it involved a hefty dose of forced helplessness. Being a girl meant having a lot of pink toys and being admonished about all the things that weren’t ladylike, and while that didn't describe the Princess Leia of A New Hope, I figured she'd had to put up with all that stuff, too.

Princess Leia was okay, but I wanted to be Luke Skywalker. And so I felt like someone must have made a mistake and I was supposed to be a boy. There couldn't be any other answer, I'd figured.

Fast-forward to Return of the Jedi and the plot twist that my young self never saw coming: Luke had a sister, and that sister had the Force, and that sister was Princess Leia. To most adults it seemed like a somewhat cheesy twist, given the love interest angle of the previous movies, but to me it was something else entirely: the very first moment I realized girls could be just as special as boys. She wasn't just a princess tagging along with the boys, she was just as important as them.

Fisher's role in the Star Wars world took on a new form in Return of the Jedi, and she steered it masterfully. Princess Leia wasn't just a stereotypical princess, and at the same time she wasn't a stereotypical "one of the boys" character who tried too hard to be masculine as if the feminine aspects of her personality were shameful.

This point was driven home during the Endor battle scene in which Leia was both warrior and nurturer, being able to hold her own against Imperial forces without needing the boys' help, and at the same time being gentle and loving toward the ewoks and, later on, having no qualms about donning a dress and braiding her hair.

It may sound like such simple things, but to many girls watching those movies for the first time, Fisher presented (and still presents) a look at what could be. You didn't have to be a boy to be special. You didn't have to be saved or sit on the sidelines, and you didn't have to pretend to be a boy or act tough all the time. I stopped wanting to be a boy or be Luke, and I decided I wanted to be like Princess Leia instead: someone who could be a person instead of just a girl.

In light of Fisher's passing, many narratives about her life will no doubt arise across social media in coming days. Many can't seem to help pointing out her past drug use, and others dismiss her as just an actress. Like Leia, though, she was more than any single one thing: she was a person who lived a complex life, and she wasn't afraid to be herself. Her influence will ultimately outlive any single narrative that may arise, and she'll no doubt continue to influence young viewers for years to come.

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Nintendo’s Wii U Gets Everything Right (But One Thing)

Nintendo’s Wii U Gets Everything Right (But One Thing)

At the E3 gaming expo this week, Nintendo unveiled its next console, the Wii U. The device will deliver far better graphics than the company’s current console, as well as a new controller that dazzled crowds and made many wonder if this would be the future of gaming as we know it.

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Why I Have Such A Good Feeling About E3 2011

Why I Have Such A Good Feeling About E3 2011

Starting on Monday, the biggest gaming event of the year, E3, will kick off in Los Angeles. Each year, the event is home to major announcements, new games, and all kinds of gaming-related news that will have a direct impact on our lives in the coming months and years.

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Does Anyone Else Think Nintendo Is In Deep Trouble?

Does Anyone Else Think Nintendo Is In Deep Trouble?

Nintendo is arguably the most beloved game company in the world. For years now, it has delivered lovable characters, like Mario and Link, outstanding hardware, like the SNES and Wii, and some of the best games to hit store shelves. Its fans are dedicated to the company, and with each new device it launches, they’re more than willing to stand in line to get one.

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Dismissing Windows 8 as an iPad rival is premature

Dismissing Windows 8 as an iPad rival is premature

There's a whole lot riding on Windows 8. Windows 7 may be the big player on the desktop, but when it comes to tablets Microsoft has carved itself a niche in the corner. The company has arguably been the longest proponent of the tablet form-factor - Windows XP Tablet Edition was released almost nine years ago - but in recent years its stylus-centric hardware has failed to gain traction amid iOS and Android models. Now, with its first demonstration of how Windows 8 will handle this new generation of tableteers, Microsoft is setting out its stall for where it sees the slate segment developing. Finger on the pulse or just plain out of touch?

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Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Facebook Blues Again

Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Facebook Blues Again

What is a friend? Has the definition of friend changed since the dawn of the social network? Are we now friends with people whom we might have ignored years ago? There was a point when I thought of my Facebook friends list as a collection, and I tried to gather as many friends as I could. I even thought of it as a competition, trying to ‘friend’ more people than my best friend. You don’t have to tell me why that was a stupid idea, I already wrote a column saying as much. CNN recently published an article from a former Facebook employee. He has created a new social network that only allows you to have 50 friends. I pared back from about 350 people to just under 200, and I could still probably cut a few more and hardly notice, but mostly because they are inactive on Facebook, not because I don’t want to hear from them. But now I think it’s time to stop cutting. It’s time to take a step back and think about what truly makes a person a friend.

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Movie Review: The Hangover Part II

Movie Review: The Hangover Part II

“Chris, I have bad news,” my email starts. I’m sitting in front of my computer, and my room is a mess. My face is dimpled and red. “I messed up,” I continue, “I really messed up. There might be no movie review next week.” I’m about to hit send. My head is hung in shame.

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ASUS Padfone: Twice as appealing or doubly-dumb?

ASUS Padfone: Twice as appealing or doubly-dumb?

Maybe it was too many Transformers toys when I was younger, or because I have a frustrated engineer inside me, but I - like plenty of others - can't take my eyes off the ASUS Padfone. The new tablet/smartphone hybrid, fresh (after a leak or two) to Computex 2011 this morning, taps into a geeky, childish "slot this gadget into that gadget and make it better overall" mindset that also left us jonesing for an ATRIX after CES. Question is, after the lust fades, does the reality the Padfone offers actually bear up?

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PSN Breach or Not: I Don’t Like Online Gaming Anyway

PSN Breach or Not: I Don’t Like Online Gaming Anyway

When Sony’s PlayStation Network service was hacked in April and the company was forced to take it offline until earlier this month, there were many gamers out there that were upset to see it go. Those gamers had been playing online titles for quite some time on their PlayStation 3 devices, and if they didn’t have an Xbox 360, they didn’t have a worthwhile online-gaming experience to turn to.

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3G on my Ereader, not my Tablet

3G on my Ereader, not my Tablet

Amazon and B&N are taking pot-shots at each other this week, each competing on whose ereader lasts longest. As ereaders gain in popularity and become more mainstream, too, I'm increasingly asked which model I'd go for and, more often, whether I'd pay extra for those with integrated 3G or save my money and opt for WiFi-only instead. Funnily enough, my stance on 3G ereaders is the complete opposite of my thoughts on 3G tablets.

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Why I Can’t Stand Hulu Plus

Why I Can’t Stand Hulu Plus

As someone who streams Netflix content through several different devices, including my HDTV, the iPad, and others, I recently decided to give some other streaming offerings a chance to win my affection. My first choice among the many out there was Hulu Plus.

Now, I should note that I’ve used Hulu quite often. While I’m having lunch, I’ve been known to surf to Hulu’s Web site and watch some episodes of shows I might have missed recently. I guess you could say that I’ve been a Hulu veteran for quite some time now.

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Double Triple Mustard Fried Whole Grilled Onions Chiles on the Side With Fries, Well Done

Double Triple Mustard Fried Whole Grilled Onions Chiles on the Side With Fries, Well Done

In-N-Out opened in Dallas this month. I was in Korea on business when it happened, but as soon as I returned I decided to swing by and get a burger. The restaurant opened early in the week. I showed up on Saturday to a line of cars that was probably a half mile long, at least. That was just the drive-through. The line of people outside on a gorgeous Texas spring day was more than a hundred strong. Maybe you heard about all of this. Maybe you saw the woman crying tears of joy at the opening of a new fast food restaurant. It did make national news, after all.

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