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Carrie Fisher and the Star Wars Review I Couldn’t Write

Helen Highly Recommends Carrie Fisher Quit Twitter
or
Change Your Galaxy!

Carrie Fisher has aged.
Carrie Fisher has aged.

Q: Is it true that HelenHighly, a self-professed socially-and-politically-conscious woman, walked out of the movie “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” and immediately made a comment about Carrie Fisher’s body?
A: Yes. (Should I feel guilty? Not sure yet.)

Q: Was it rude and inappropriate for journalist Kyle Smith to publicly suggest to Carrie Fisher that she give up acting if she didn’t like continually having her body scrutinized and criticized by everyone and anyone due to the way she aged?
A: Yes. (I think we can all agree that disrespect is always the wrong approach for a professional when speaking about one’s subject, and certainly the wrong way to speak about a beloved Princess.)

Q: Did Carrie Fisher show us all up by replying with simultaneous wit, candor, and bada-bing punch, thus reminding those who criticized and/or gossiped that she is better than them (us), and that she still has it – “it” being bright, lively talent?
A: Yes indeed. Go Carrie!

Carrie Fisher Is Defiant
Carrie Fisher Is Defiant

But the harder question remains: That nasty reporter guy judged Carrie Fisher’s body, and HelenHighly also judged Carrie Fisher’s body. Am I that guy?!*

Here’s the story:

I am no “Star Wars” fan. However, I got an assignment to write about the new movie “Star Wars:….mumble.. whatever.” The assignment was for The Film Box, this mostly action-movie site, where I occasionally post commentary. (I provide balance.) To counter the geek perspective, Cameron had asked me to write from a non-fan woman’s point of view. But until now, I have written nothing about “Star Wars,” because I couldn’t think of anything interesting to say.

“Do I feel guilty? Hell no; Lucas made $4 billion.”

Correction: In an effort to deliver something, I did write a news blurb that unfairly attacked George Lucas, creator of “Star Wars,” for jokingly using the term “white slavers” in regard to the Disney Co., to whom he sold the franchise for $4 billion in 2012 and now is criticizing for their handling of his “kids.” And then I wrote another news story announcing that he had apologized, but I doubted his sincerity. So, I got two articles out of Lucas, both based on over-blown nonsense. Do I feel guilty? Hell no; Lucas made $4 billion selling overblown nonsense (named “Star Wars”). He’s filthy rich; his feelings don’t matter. (Although, it might bear mentioning that during this attack on what Lucas said, no one commented on what he looked like.) But back to this story:

I did want to see the movie just because it got so crazy-much attention in the media that I felt I was obligated to see it, as a U.S. citizen and occupant of our galaxy. I admit that the film itself did nothing for me, but I did enjoy watching the audience respond enthusiastically each time one of their old favorites (and old, favorites – with comma) – be it actor or spaceship – made an appearance.

The Beloved "Star Wars" Trilogy
The Beloved “Star Wars” Trilogy

These old favorites, brought back from the cult trilogy (1977 – 1983), include male leads, Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill. And also there is the female lead, Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) – the adventure-heroine and super-hot It-Girl of the original “Star Wars,” and an idolized icon because of it. I am told that a generation of teenage boys grew up with posters on their bedroom walls of Carrie Fisher in a gold bikini– the same metal bikini she wore as a costume in the second film. That poster is from a photo-shoot Fisher did with “Rolling Stone,” back in 1983, when she was a 27-year-old starlet. (Pretty hip to be on the cover of “Rolling Stone” – twice, actually.)

Carrie Fisher Rocks with "Rolling Stone"
Carrie Fisher Rocks with “Rolling Stone”

Fisher has gone on to have a successful career in the industry – as an actress, producer, and screenwriter, including writing the semi-autobiographical film “Postcards from the Edge,” (based on one of her own hit books) in which the Carrie-ish character is portrayed by none other than Meryl Streep (the best actress ever). Carrie Fisher is Somebody.

Carrie Fisher: Once She Was Beautiful
Carrie Fisher: Once She Was Beautiful

But to the people in the movie theater with me, watching the latest “Star Wars” film-phenomenon, Carrie Fisher is and always will be Princess Leia, the great and legendary… (I don’t know; this is where they lose me). And those people literally cheered for Carrie Fisher – not only with excitement when they first saw her in this new film, but also after each scene in which she appeared.

So, Carrie: People love you. They love seeing you on screen. Don’t doubt that fact.

And I will say that, for me (and I believe for most others as well), Carrie Fisher brought an authentic warmth and humanity to a movie that is…  mostly metal. Okay, I probably stand alone with my “mostly metal” comment, but I challenge anyone to say they did not both enjoy and respect Fisher’s performance in this film.

“For Carrie to escape the unfair cruelties of this world, she would have to get on a spaceship and find another galaxy, far, far away.”

Well, I never wrote the film review because I decided that I am not Star-Wars-knowledgeable enough to say anything intelligent about the movie. And I was going to walk away and start writing my next commentary – slated to be a combo-review of two different documentaries about great women– Peggy Guggenheim and Janis Joplin (who seem to me to be surprisingly similar). But then, I couldn’t escape the buzzing news about the great “Star Wars” woman. Here’s what:

Carrie Fisher, Then and Now
Carrie Fisher, Then and Now

On Tuesday, January 29th, Fisher, age 59, sent a message to her 850,000 Twitter followers, asking them to stop scrutinizing and criticizing how she has aged over the past 30 years. Apparently there had been a relentless stream of unkind and insulting comments. To those haters she shockingly said that they could “blow us”. (!!!)
(“Us” means Fisher, her body, and her character Leia)

“Please stop debating about whether or not I have aged well. Unfortunately it hurts all 3 of my feelings. My body hasn’t aged as well as I have. Blow us.”
[Twitter text abbreviations and jargon have been translated, but that was her message.]

Oh. My. God.
Oh. My. God.

Then Fisher re-tweeted statements from supporters who claimed that her co-stars, Harrison Ford – age 73 and Mark Hamill – age 64, do not face the same level of scrutiny. In another tweet, Fisher shared her sentiments that “youth and beauty are not accomplishments, they’re the temporary happy.”

Okay, my first thought was: That’s a Twitter Win for Carrie. Good for her.

But, my second thought was: Eegads. I remembered (and here I confess) that the first words out of my mouth when I left the theater were about Carrie Fisher’s body. (Am I a hater, like those others?!*) I commented that the film almost never showed her full body. As I recall (and I could be wrong, because honestly, the movie did not hold my close attention), it seemed to me that she was always in close-up – just her head. And at one point they (awkwardly, I thought) cut to a close-up of her hand. The few times that we did see her body were in distant wide-shots. So, I concluded, they must have used a body double for Fisher – someone thinner, and then only used her for head-shots, and hand-shots.

Carrie Fisher Before She Lost Some Weight
Carrie Fisher Before She Lost Some Weight

I noticed this because I had recently seen Fisher do the talk-show circuit and had observed that she had become a large woman (which is perfectly understandable; she is no spring chicken anymore). I hear tell that Fisher lost weight for the film and then unfortunately gained it back before her publicity tour. Hmm…even if true…Obviously, her starlet days are behind her (it’s been 38 years!). I was just wondering about why they chose not to show her true body in the movie – why they made her look thinner than she really is, or was. Are “Star Wars” royalty not allowed to gain weight?

I did also make the somewhat snarky comment that Carrie obviously “had a lot of work done” and it doesn’t look real. She’s so smart; I thought she would be wiser than to go that route. And so I judged that Carrie Fisher is vain and definitely looks worse for wear. And Disney is shallow (duh) and doesn’t want fat heroines. The company probably only cares about profit (as Lucas later accused). That was my brilliant sidewalk analysis.

“In the contest of brains and beauty, I always go with brains.”

I could think of nothing to say about the movie itself because… it’s not my thing. However, I personally have repeatedly gained and lost (and lost and gained) weight throughout my many years, and now I am almost as old as Carrie Fisher, and I have indeed considered the possibility of plastic surgery. I have nothing against it in principle. I just worry that it usually doesn’t look good and ends up making the person look older. My point is that: The Empire and/or The Alliance mean nothing to me. And the thing I could most relate to in the film was how Carrie Fisher (and I) have aged. (Am I her in this story?*)

Carrie Fisher Has Had "Work Done"
Carrie Fisher Has Had “Work Done”

A few days later, Kyle Smith, some nasty troll from the “New York Post,” rudely responded to what he called Fisher’s “Twittantrum” (Twitter-tantrum) with a message to Carrie that she should “quit acting” if she isn’t prepared to put up with her looks being judged. And he wrote:

“Fisher is a public figure. If she didn’t want the public to talk about her, she could have spent the last 40 years teaching kindergarten. As for whether it’s ‘messed up’ for Hollywood to prefer pretty people to appear in its films, Fisher made millions off being pretty. Far from being bitter about this, she and other actresses who profited nicely from their looks should be grateful they had a turn at the top.”

OUCH!!!
OUCH!!!

Eegads. That’s hard-core. (But doesn’t the part about “if you get rich off your work, you are fair game for unfairness” sound a bit like what I thought about George Lucas? Is this unfairness exclusively allocated to women?)

Carrie did not back down. She then tweeted:
Continue reading Carrie Fisher and the Star Wars Review I Couldn’t Write

UPDATE: George Lucas Disney Apology for “White Slavers” Comment

George Lucas Backpeddles Big-Time: Sorry for “White Slavers” Comment re Star Wars

George Lucas apologized for the “very inappropriate analogy” he used in comparing Disney to “white slavers,”  a statement he made during a lengthy interview with CBS newsman Charlie Rose, when discussing the new Star Wars film, The Force Awakens.

Click to see the original report from The Film Box.

In his lengthy interview with Charlie Rose, the Star Wars creator had expressed rather dramatic disapproval  of Disney’s handling of his space epic, despite the $4 billion cash and stock payoff he got in the 2012 sale to Disney. He not only suggested control of the franchise had gone to “white slavers” but added that he did not agree with the “retro” approach the entertainment conglomerate had taken with the film.

Click to see our article, with a link to the actual interview, including the “white slavers” comment.

“I have been working with Disney for 40 years and chose them as the custodians of Star Wars because of my great respect for the company and Bob Iger’s leadership,” Lucas said in his statement, issued Thursday afternoon by Disney. “Disney is doing an incredible job of taking care of and expanding the franchise. I rarely go out with statements to clarify my feelings but I feel it is important to make it clear that I am thrilled that Disney has the franchise and is moving it in such exciting directions in film, television and the parks.”

Ha. That’s a very different statement than he made on Charlie Rose — a complete 180 turn. It’s one thing to apologize for using the wrong word, and another to change your entire story. Lucas: Get a better PR company.
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When she is not writing about film and art on her blog, HelenHighly.com, Helen Kaplow is busy being a culture vulture in her adopted home of New York City. 

George Lucas Says Disney Co. “White Slavers” to Charlie Rose

Star Wars: The Force Awakens George Lucas From His Satisfied Slumber

In an interview with Charlie Rose, broadcast on December 25th and released online this week, George Lucas criticized the latest installment of Star Wars, the series he created, saying he was unhappy with the direction the franchise has taken since he sold the rights to it, along with Lucasfilm, his company, to Disney for $4 billion.  He criticized the film industry in general for focusing on profit over storytelling.

But speaking about his creation in particular, he said “These are my kids, all the Star Wars films… I love them, I created them, I’m very intimately involved in them.” And he add (with a laugh), “And I sold them to the white slavers…”
Was he just kidding? Maybe, maybe not. 

Click here to watch Lucas the interview. 

The film that Disney made, Star Wars, The Force Awakens, has grossed more than $1 billion worldwide since its release on December 18th.  Fans delighted in seeing their old favorites — from characters to spaceships — make a comeback appearance. But Lucas explained that he worked very hard to make each of his Star Wars films different, and the new movie was “retro” and re-used old concepts and designs, and he thinks that’s a disservice to the integrity of the series and betrays his commitment to true storytelling.

UPDATE: Lucas back-peddled and apologized for his “white slavers” comment, and more. It’s a startling and hard-to-believe turn-around. Click here to read about it.

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When she is not writing about film and art on her blog, HelenHighly.com, Helen Kaplow is busy being a culture vulture in her adopted home of New York City. 

Harrison Ford Was Paid 50x More Than Star Wars Co-Stars

Harrison Ford meant it when he said in the new Star Wars film that “the force” was real; his celebrity forced Disney and Lucasfilm to pay huge money.

With its global in-take now at a record $529 million, Star Wars‘ box office success is staggering. But how much money did The Force Awakens actors earn to join a galaxy far, far away?

Variety is reporting that Harrison Ford’s salary was in the eight-figure range ($10 million to $20 million) to reprise his role of Han Solo. According to a Disney insider, the 73-year-old notoriously grouchy actor earned a substantially larger cut than his co-stars — 50 times more than the fresh faces who shared the screen with him.

Word on the street says that Disney made a decision in 2014, prior to casting the new roles, to create a “legacy pay scale” intended for talent like Ford, Fisher and Hamill, who had previously been a part of the Star Wars franchise, and pay only “scale” for actors that would be appearing for the first time. In that universe, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher took home pay checks in the low-seven-figure range.

Adam Driver and Oscar Isaac negotiated deals in the mid- to high-six figures, due to their previous film and TV work. But newcomers John Boyega and Daisy Ridley were paid only in the low-six-figure range ($100k-$300k), due to their lack of experience in large-scale film. That’s barely a tiny flash of light in the gigantic financial universe that is Star Wars. Let’s hope that next time (and there will surely will be a next time), the force will be with them when they bargain for their salaries.

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When she is not writing about film and art on her blog, HelenHighly.com, Helen Kaplow is busy being a culture vulture in her adopted home of New York City.