If someone had asked me when I was in middle school what my idea of a perfect woman looked like, I would have described tough-but-feminine young beauty wearing a copper brassiere, a red silk loincloth, high-heeled leather boots, and a brown braided ponytail that spilled down past her belly button.
In other words, I would have described Princess Leia during her brief stint as Jabba the Hutt’s captive in “Return of the Jedi.”
Because that’s where my frame of mind was when I was in middle school (and, I’d imagine, where the minds of more than a few other middle school boys were, circa the mid-1980s). When it came to the stars of my daydreams, Princess Leia was The One.
So I cut out half-page movie ads featuring a metal-bikini-clad Leia from the Hartford Courant and Scotch-taped them to the walls of my bedroom. I scoured my local Toys “R” Us – anytime I could find a ride – in hopes of scoring a metal-bikini-clad Leia action figure for my collection, but it seemed to always be out of stock.
And I watched a metal-bikini-clad Leia kill one of the most grotesque villains in the “Star Wars” canon over and over, dozens of times, enough that my copy of “Jedi” broke and got stuck in my family’s VCR.
Of course, as I got older, the newspaper clippings went in the trash, the toys went in the attic, George Lucas began screwing up the original “Star Wars” movies, and I started realizing there was more to women than the ability to look good in a metal bikini.
Meanwhile, Carrie Fisher never stopped shooting straight, through the final years of her all-too-short life.
“I think that’s stupid,” she told the Wall Street Journal, after hearing of a father outraged about the re-emergence of “Slave Outfit” Leia action figures in 2015. “The father who flipped out about it, ‘What am I going to tell my kid about why she’s in that outfit?’ Tell them that a giant slug captured me and forced me to wear that stupid outfit, and then I killed him because I didn’t like it. And then I took it off. Backstage.”
As recently as November, just a month after her 60th birthday, Fisher went on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” and crushed it.
Colbert: “Were you asked to physically transform at all as Princess Leia? I heard they asked you to lose weight.”
Fisher: “They did. They always do. They want to hire part of me, not all of me. So they want to hire about three-fourths. And so I have to get rid of the fourth somehow. The fourth can’t be with me. I made a joke! The fourth can’t be with me. And I made it up just then... just for you.”
Colbert: “So is this before the first movie, or is this before the bronze bikini second movie?”
Fisher: “Oh, no – bronze bikini, I was solid.”
Colbert: “OK, yeah, I noticed. I noticed.”
A few beats later:
Colbert: “Let me ask you something... about the character of Leia Organa. She’s got The Force, how come she doesn’t get a lightsaber?”
Fisher: “Even in space... there’s a double standard.”
In fact, if someone asked me today what my idea of a perfect woman looks like, I would describe a tough-but-feminine beauty who has a way with words and a sharp sense of humor.
Which is to say, I would describe either a) my wife, or b) a perfect blend of the young, bronze-bikini-clad Princess Leia and the graying wisecracker Carrie Fisher, who – through the final years of her all-too-short life – never stopped shooting straight.