Carrie Fisher Never Let Her Critics Keep Her Down

by Amy Mackelden
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Carrie Fisher's death has come as a massive shock to the world, particularly since the actor made such an impressive comeback as General Leia in 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens. However, Fisher received a lot of bad press throughout her life, and continued to stand up to the people that criticized her — particularly those that unfairly focused on the way she looked. That old adage that men age well but women don't was never more true than when comparing the very differing reviews received by Harrison Ford and Fisher in the latest Star Wars. The media is being so positive about Carrie Fisher following her death, but the writer and performer had to fight many times throughout her career to be treated with respect while she was alive.

What set Fisher apart from other actors was her honesty. Having lived with mental health issues throughout her life, and overcoming drug and alcohol problems while in the public eye, the actor was unafraid to discuss her personal life. As a prolific writer, she detailed her issues via literature and screenplays, including in the Meryl Streep starring Postcards From The Edge. Fisher often opened up about events that she'd survived, things that other celebrities might keep private in order to preserve their image. Her honesty is perhaps what opened her up to so much criticism; she let the public into her life in the most explicit way, which seemed to give people license to lambast her.

Fisher consistently took to task journalists that criticized her appearance, even entering into an online feud with writer Kyle Smith at the New York Post. Having negatively reviewed her appearance as General Leia, Smith went on to write an article titled, "If Carrie Fisher doesn't like being judged on looks, she should quit acting." In true Fisher style, her Twitter reply included the words, "OK, I quit acting." Instead of backing down, or quietly receiving this criticism, Fisher stood up for herself, used her trademark humor, and refused to be judged by the double standard.

Conversely, since she passed away, Fisher has received nothing but praise. She's been recognized as a talented Hollywood script doctor, rewriting successful movies including Sister Act, Hook, The Wedding Singer, and Coyote Ugly. As the LA Times pointed out on Tuesday, "Carrie Fisher played a galactic princess, but she had a working writer’s gift for understanding how people talk, and how language works. At 22." Her work as a talented script doctor wasn't widely talked about prior to her death, but obituaries have been quick to point out Fisher's impressive resume. She was much more than Princess Leia, but the public often failed to see that.

As a vocal mental health advocate, the actor is an important role model for so many people. Reportedly diagnosed with bipolar disorder when she was just 24 years old, Fisher was often criticized for her life choices, her addictions, and her relationships. As recently as November 2016, Fisher told NPR that the most difficult part of her job was the criticism, especially from online trolls, when she said,

Show business is a heartbreaking career... The rejection — you know, the criticism, especially now with the internet. You know, it used to be that you're your own worst enemy - no longer. The internet is. And they say really, really vicious things about you based in some sort of truth. So it's painful. And eventually it's going to dump you. Eventually it's going to say, you look old. You look fat. It's over. And there's no escaping it... And you can't complain about it, or people will say to you, you wanted to be in show business.

Sadly, the actor knew only too well that as a celebrity, she would be continually subjected to other people's opinions about her, both good and bad. That she described show business as "heartbreaking" is totally devastating, and shows how negative an impact her career had on her at times.

In light of Fisher's death, it's a relief to hear the actor praised for everything that she achieved throughout her impressive career. Hollywood is a famously shallow industry, but Fisher is long overdue the positive press she's receiving. Her talent has always spoken for itself, and the fact that she always stood up for herself and held her head up high is a lesson that we can all carry with us the way we carry her in our hearts.