Okay Facebook, let’s calm down for a moment and take stock: yes, Carrie Fisher died this week. As did George Michael, bringing the tally of this year’s celebrity deaths to seemingly epic proportions.
But seriously, is this the reason to decry 2016?
I liked Carrie Fischer as much as the next person—maybe even a bit more considering the number of Star Wars fans I’ve dated over the years and, oh yeah, the one that I married (he spent a whopping $8 each on a pair of Chewbacca gift bags, complete with faux fur, during a very-definitely-unauthorized shopping trip to Target this Christmas). And even though I haven’t seen Rogue One yet, I did see The Force Awakens last year and I loved it. There was a girl (!), a black guy (!!), and the iconic Princess Leia had finally traded her slave bikini for a new look and a new title: General.
So yes, Carrie Fisher had her moments of badassery. But she was also human. And humans die, especially when they have a history of substance abuse as did so many of the “immortals” claimed by 2016.
I’m not saying that she deserved it (especially as Fisher was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder in 1985), and I mean no disrespect to her mother Debbie Reynolds, who (along with Gene Kelly in Singin’ in the Rain) inspired a significant portion of what I do with my life, but here’s an idea: let’s stop freaking out every time another celebrity dies and acting as if this—THIS!—is the worst thing that happened this year.
Because for every Bowie, for every Prince, for every Princess, I raise you a dead Syrian. I raise you a Philando Castile, an Alton Sterling. I raise you a young woman at Standing Rock who lost her arm while peacefully resisting the construction of the Dakota Pipeline. I raise you a young Muslim woman who was attacked on her way to class right here in the good old US of A. I raise you a white student—one of mine— who is afraid to marry her black boyfriend now that her soon-to-be-president, many of his cabinet appointments and even more of his supporters don’t see anything wrong with the KKK.
If there’s anything we should be mourning in 2016, it should be the death of decency, of our so-called democracy, of the flawed but hopeful dream upon which America was built.
It’s time to get a grip. It’s time to stop distracting ourselves with celebrity gossip and clever memes about the ruining of our precious 1980s childhoods. It’s time to stop anthropomorphizing a year of bad shit that we let happen and STOP letting it happen.
That is what Princess Leia would have done.