Tag Archives: Carrie Fisher

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Like millions of other Americans, I watched the Super Bowl halftime show last week.

I tuned in specifically to watch Lady Gaga, who I had seen twice in concert. I think she is extraordinarily talented, energetic and gives everything for her audience.

I thought she delivered a stunning halftime show.

Replete with a Peter Pan-like entrance, a dance troupe that seamlessly blended in and with a spectacular fireworks backdrop, the performance I thought deserved nothing but praise.

So imagine my surprise when I saw a formula for dating age that critics were taking shots at Lady Gaga for her “gut” or her “belly.” (The criticism came after she had several costume changes, some that revealed her midriff.)

One example from Twitter: “Tried to enjoy @ladygaga’s performance, was distracted by the flab on her stomach swinging around.”
Are you kidding me?! She is in fantastic shape and burned more calories in that turbo-charged performance than I do in five workouts.

For crying out loud, I know guys who would do anything to have her flat stomach.

Where do people (mostly men it appeared) get off engaging in that kind of body shaming?

I am sure the men who cast those stones were just the very picture of Adonis themselves and not some middle-aged dudes who are paunchy in the poochie and could stand to shed 20 pounds.

Lady Gaga, who has been a champion of all stripes and walks of humanity and has advanced the cause of the LGBT community, graciously responded on Instagram: “I heard my body is a topic of conversation so I wanted to say I’m proud of my body and you should be proud of yours too. No matter who you are or what you do.”

This episode speaks to a larger issue my wife brings to my attention repeatedly: the double standard that exists for men and women, and especially for actresses and female celebrities.

Men can be sought in roles well into their 60s or 70s no matter how craggy their faces or saggy their guts.

Somehow Hollywood and society are more forgiving of that than actresses who have the temerity (gasp!) to get older.

My wife contends that many actresses somewhere around their 30s are no longer cast in starring roles after they have been judged to no longer be pretty and young.

The late Carrie Fisher endured similar criticisms when she appeared in “The Force Awakens.”

Her response is worth repeating:  “Please stop debating about whether or not I have aged well. Unfortunately it hurts all three of my feelings. My BODY hasn’t aged as well as I have.”

This attitude extends beyond celebrities to everyday people, in which we judge others by their physical appearances.

Maybe I have a heightened sensitivity to this because I had severe acne as a teenager that defied medical treatment for years and I was judged harshly as a result. I’d like to think we’ve come a long way as a culture in 40 years.

It’s time to look beyond the surface of the skin and find a connection with the person inside.

Shame on the body-shamers.

Lost Podcast Is in the Wild!

We found it!

Pedro and I recorded an episode a few weeks ago that fell somewhere into the couch cushions but fear not, we’ve dusted it off and it’s as good as new.

Well, almost.

We do discuss (belatedly for you dear listeners) our sense of loss at the death of our beloved Carrie Fisher, aka Princess Leia from “Star Wars.”

We share in the sorrow of fans everywhere and marvel at her achievements.

May she long be remembered for her literary contributions and her help in removing the stigma of mental illness.

And on a more cheerful note, Pedro and I celebrate 40 years of friendship and recount how we first met lo those many years ago.

It’s a pretty funny story, one told in a blog post a while back.

Yes, 40 years we have been together.

Convicted killers do less time in prison, but like Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier in “The Defiant Ones,” we are chained together for life!

Give the show a listen!

An Appreciation of Carrie Fisher

In the constellation of stars who died in 2016, the one that I was heartsick over the most was Carrie Fisher.

When I first saw her in “Star Wars,” the special effects and droids got more of my 12-year-old’s attention than her signature character, Leia Organa, the blaster-toting, tough-talking, take-charge princess.

By the time “The Empire Strikes Back” came out in 1980, the romantic tension between her character and Han Solo got my notice. And when “Return of the Jedi” premiered and I was 18, well, let’s just say that her appearance in that golden bikini left a lasting impression.

But as I got older, the appeal of her roles in the “Star Wars” franchise took a backseat to her plainspoken and brutally honest conversations about her struggles with mental illness and addiction.

I was horrified the first time I read about Fisher going into rehab.

The image of my beloved baby-faced star was shattered, replaced with an upsetting notion of an unstable celebrity who was following the familiar Hollywood path of drugs and booze.

Over time though, I came to appreciate — and admire — her willingness to forthrightly discuss her experiences and her treatment for bipolar disorder.

“I am mentally ill. I can say that,” Fisher said. “I am not ashamed of that. I survived that, I’m still surviving it, but bring it on. Better me than you.”

She was a role model for so many people, me included.

Fisher – among others — inspired me to seek help for my depression. If Carrie Fisher could tackle these issues head-on and in public, what was stopping me?

Fisher’s death also struck me forcefully because she reminded me of my late fiancée, Carla, who had battled her own addictions.

Fisher was open (some called it over-sharing) about her stints in rehab. Carla was similarly open and channeled her experiences into helping others in recovery.

Fisher was a high-profile inspiration for others. Carla was also a source of inspiration but on a grassroots level. I saw this repeatedly as she connected with people individually and offered to give them a boost.

When Carla was fired as a domestic-abuse counselor, her enraged clients broke into the office in the dead of night to find her home phone number. Carla saw it as a victory because the women felt empowered and took control.

Fisher and Carla also had an ability to poke fun at – and sometimes even celebrate – themselves at their worst moments.

Some of Carla’s stories were funny, like the time she was drunk behind the wheel and rear-ended a police car, and some were terrifying, like when she was confronted by a guy who pointed a gun at her and her friend and demanded their drug stash.

Russell Crowe recalled a moment with Fisher in 2000. On Twitter he wrote that she grabbed his butt and said “You would have loved me when I was on Xanax.”

An appreciation of Fisher that appeared in The New York Times noted there were better ways to honor her than rewatching “Star Wars.”

“Read her books,” wrote Lawrence Downes. “They are works where misery and brilliance commingle with wit, the creations of an actual person who had many layers and is worth getting to know, as opposed to Princess Leia, who has none and is not.”

I agree but I think there is an even better way to honor her memory:

Don’t judge them if they have a mental illness or are now or have been an addict.

Offer to help in what ways you can.

Carrie – and Carla — would approve.

Related links:

An Open Letter of Apology to Carrie Fisher

 

 

An Open Letter of Apology to Carrie Fisher

Dear Ms. Fisher:

I feel I owe you an apology. And while I say this speaking strictly for myself, I suspect there is a wider swath of men who might feel the way I do.

You recently came under attack by social media trolls who criticized you for — gasp! — having the temerity to look older since the last time you appeared in a “Star Wars” movie.

The shaming you were subjected to came after your appearances as General Leia Organa in “The Force Awakens.”

Some of the comments, which I read on Twitter, were vitriolic. I was stunned at how base some people were.

But then again, I should have known better: That’s because I’m guilty of contributing to this kind of mentality.

There’s a generation of us men who grew up unenlightened about women. In our childhood and adolescence, we knew Hollywood actresses only to be young and pretty.

I’m thinking here of an age of “Charlie’s Angels” or “Wonder Woman,” for example.

I suppose Hollywood has always placed a premium on youth and good looks, with the scales unfairly tilted against actresses.

My wife and I have had this discussion numerous times, with her pointing out that beyond a certain age, the opportunities for an actress shrink as her perceived value (read good looks) fades.

For a long time I argued – in a Pollyannaish way – that was not the case. I realize, of course, that is very much the reality and that guys like me have contributed to that ethos.

It is a culture that the comedian Amy Schumer so perfectly skewed in a sketch on her show that parodied “Twelve Angry Men.” The all-male jury’s deliberations focused on whether Schumer was “hot enough” to have her own show.

While the sketch was brilliantly subversive and spot-on hilarious, it also exposed an uncomfortable truth:

Terms like “objectify” are not part of the cultural vocabulary of many men when it comes to women. Instead, we use descriptions like “hot,” “cute,” “babe” or worse.

I’ve been a fan of yours since “Star Wars” came out in 1977 and, yes, as an 18-year-old when “Return of the Jedi” was released, lusted after you when you appeared in that bikini outfit.

But that’s a long time ago and it’s belatedly clear to me that women in general and particularly in Hollywood are held to a different set of standards that are linked almost exclusively to their appearances.

Your response to the social media trolls struck a nerve with me:

“Please stop debating about whether or not [I] aged well. Unfortunately it hurts all 3 of my feelings. My body hasn’t aged as well as I have. Blow us.”

Those comments were an epiphany.

I sensed a genuine hurt beneath the layer of sarcasm. Also, there’s something about the fact that I grew up with you, my admiration for your forthright public battle with mental illness and addictions and the head-on way you addressed the trolls that spoke to me.

On screen, you’ve played a princess and a general and in real life you are a mother, daughter, author and actress.

To me, though, you’re smart and brave.

Thank you for that.

Sincerely yours,

Christopher Mele

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