The title of this post is inspired by the passing of Carrie Fisher on December 27th, 2016. She portrayed a strong, capable, and warm-hearted woman in five of the current eight movies of the Star Wars franchise of movies (including Rogue 1 but not Episode 8 because that movie has not been released yet). She was also an advocate for awareness of mental illness as well as for addiction. She overcame many obstacles in her life, and touched many people’s lives through her work.
I will always remember her because of this work and the example her character set for many young people of my generation and the generations that have followed. My daughter saw Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens in the theater at the same age that her father saw the original theatrical release of Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope (although at the time it wasn’t called “Episode 4” of the Star Wars franchise of movies)
She was one of the first women in science fiction movies to actually be a lead character instead of one of the supporting characters. She was feisty, funny, and one of the leaders of the “Rebel Alliance” throughout the original Star Wars trilogy of movies. But it was her advocacy work was perhaps of more importance for a lot of people as she brought awareness to mental illness as well as addiction — helping to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness because of her being open about her own diagnosis with bi-polar disorder.
Yes, she was a mortal. However, Leonidas and his 300 Spartans were mortals as well. I am wondering when a modern person qualifies for “hero/heroine” status after their passing. I tend to think that it would be when they inspire people to strive for arête in their lives through dealing with issues that on an individual level would hold them back. If we use this criterion, Carrie Fisher certainly qualifies.
The question then becomes “what are the criteria in general?” for the status of Hero/Heroine. Personally, I’m not entirely sure. At least for me though, I think I’m going to add Carrie Fisher, Kenny Baker, and Katie Johnson to the list. (For the reason behind Katie Johnson I recommend that my readers look at the site R2KT.COM where her father has dedicated to supporting charities through her memory). It seems only fitting because of the inspiration that they have provided, both to myself and others.