Episode VII: Carrie Strikes Back

The gutsy, sith-fighting princess from a galaxy far, far away, can do everything Han and Luke can… besides age.

The force is strong in the Skywalker family, just apparently not strong enough to stop aging. Sorry, remind me again, why is that an issue? Carrie Fisher’s highly anticipated return to the “Star Wars” franchise has recently stirred a lot of controversy concerning her appearance in the box office blockbuster “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Some distraught fans were shocked to discover that their beloved space princess had, in fact, aged since she last graced the silver screen, sporting a skimpy bikini over thirty years ago.

Illustrator: Helen Teague

Illustrator: Helen Teague

An overwhelming number of upset fans voiced their disapproval on social media, scrutinizing Fischer for her weight and visible wrinkles. However, the pressure of being closely examined by the public eye is nothing new for the feisty, pint-size actress, and she fired back at the commentators in true Carrie Fisher style.

“Please stop debating about whether or not I aged well,” Fisher said in a recent tweet. “Unfortunately, it hurts all three of my feelings. My body hasn’t aged as well as I have.”

Per usual, the media so-righteously appointed themselves to be the judge of whether or not Fisher’s aging met the impossible standards upheld for women in Hollywood. Her failure to appear twenty years younger than her actual age proved to be her downfall. This grotesque fixation on Fisher’s appearance rather than her performance in “The Force Awakens” exposes the ageist double standard that has infested the film industry for decades.

When the original crime-fighting trio reunited on the big screen, it was clear that they were not the same youthful rebels from the ‘70s.

While Fisher was busy shutting down merciless commentators with impeccable sarcastic finesse, no one seemed to be bothered by Harrison Ford’s hobble or Mark Hamill’s potbelly (Were there snacks on that remote island in the middle of nowhere, Luke?). When the original crime-fighting trio reunited on the big screen, it was clear that they were not the same youthful rebels from the ‘70s. Alas, “The Force Awakens” unveiled the cold truth–not even Jedi powers can prevent growing old. Despite Ford, Hamill, and Fisher’s lighthearted approach towards aging, in a not-so-surprising turn of events, Fisher was the only one scrutinized for her appearance in the film.

Throughout the press tour for “The Force Awakens”, the franchise’s favorite space couple, Han (Ford) and Leia (Fisher), proved that even after thirty years, some things never change. Fisher was still her sharp-tongued, sarcastic self, talking over most reporters, and Ford was incredibly blasé about the fact that “The Force Awakens” super-sized his wallet, making him the highest grossing actor in history. Then again, we are talking about the guy who refers to his fans as customers, so I have a sneaking suspicion that we could count the things Ford gets emotional over on one hand.

Despite Ford, Hamill, and Fisher’s lighthearted approach towards aging, in a not-so-surprising turn of events, Fisher was the only one scrutinized for her appearance in the film.

After Ford and Fisher appeared in a slew of interviews for the film, a pattern emerged. They were both asked a fair share of questions about how it felt to return to the franchise that catapulted their careers. However, the similarities of the questions they faced began and ended there. An unnerving amount of Fisher’s interviews were centered around the travesty of her aging, while there wasn’t a single interviewer who dared to ask Ford how he felt about his wrinkles.

Perhaps it’s a good thing that Fisher received so much media attention concerning her age and appearance in the film. The questioning revealed an underlying issue of the ageist double standard imposed on women in the industry. Social media threw a fit when they saw what a real 59-year-old woman looked like on screen, simply because in the industry, aging is taboo. Most elderly female roles in Hollywood are handed out to fresh-faced, twenty-something year old actresses who often star opposite of actors more than twice their age. There are countless film examples, but we don’t have to look very far to find proof of the industry’s problematic age disparity. It was prevalent in the “Star Wars” franchise from the very beginning with Harrison Ford, 34, cast opposite of Carrie Fisher, 19, in the first installment of the trilogy.

Fisher shoved a final knife in the coffin of the ageist double standard in Hollywood when she tweeted: “Youth and beauty are not accomplishments.”

Some things in life, usually the more important things, truly get better with age, and Carrie Fisher is certainly one of them.

And regardless of whether or not you’re satisfied with the way Princess—ahem—General Leia aged, she has far more important things to worry about than the opinions of her image. For starters, saving the galaxy from weak, power hungry men… once again.

What would we do without Carrie Fisher?