In feminism films inspiration Life

On Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher

We’re all aware of the number of celebrity deaths that occurred in 2016 – they seemed to be every other day – but the ones that struck me most came at the end of the year: that of Carrie Fisher and, a day later, her mother Debbie Reynolds.

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Both of these women have been present throughout my childhood and have come to mean a great deal to me over the years; Debbie, as Kathy Selden, my sassy triple threat in a yellow raincoat, and Carrie, as my badass general/princess with her hair wrapped in buns on either side of her head. In that time, they have become to mean different things to me, but equally as important.

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Singin’ in the Rain is my all-time favourite musical. I love everything about it; from the songs, the dance numbers, the plot and the actors. Those involved in it are genuinely incredible and so so talented. And Star Wars, on the other hand, was always playing in my house as it’s a favourite of my dad’s – a love he passed on to my brother and I. Carrie had also been in some other films I adore – Blues Brothers, When Harry Met Sally, etc., which have become iconic and are truly unforgettable, with her portrayal of characters that I love and make me laugh (less so in Blues Brothers, but never mind…).

The main characters Debbie and Carrie portrayed have inspired me and entertained me for my whole life, and I’m sure will continue to do so as long as I live. And I hope will live on to make future generations laugh and cry.

Kathy Selden. Though Singin’ in the Rain does pit the two main women against each other over Gene Kelly’s character, Don Lockwood, those two women are some of my favourites in any story (and also Jean Hagen is an underappreciated genius, but this post isn’t about here so, maybe another time I’ll talk exclusively about the film). I love Kathy; she seems to be a lovely person, with a great sense of humour and conviction in her own self-worth and ambition (just look at her threat to leave Don at the end of the film, when he would have her sacrificing her career to aid his). As a young girl, it was amazing seeing Reynolds singing and dancing her heart out, and especially keeping up with the boys (who were a lot more experienced than her as she was 19 during filming), proving that women have as much talent and capabilities as men.

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Princess Leia. My general and true royalty. During my childhood, I never saw many women in action or sci-fi films, well, not many anyway. Whilst there are some exceptions, the genres are dominated by men who end up being given more character development than the few women, who in turn end up being categorised as being either ‘macho’ or overly sexualized. This is not the case with Leia. She is able to handle her own in a fight, with weapons if necessary, think on her feet and dash around the Death Star all while maintaining her femininity and not losing sight of herself. This is so important to young (and not-so-young) girls. It’s so important to see complex women, who can be kicking ass yet still be advisory, friendly and deeply flawed. As Leia is a character who never loses her femininity but can still be a highly esteemed and respected character, she sets out a message that in order to be powerful you do not need to be masculine, something I hope I will never forget.

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To me, Leia and Carrie have blurred into one, especially having seen and loved her in interviews and videos I found online (without forgetting her Twitter feed), and that has made me respect and appreciate her even more.

The same would be said for Debbie as, as I’ve grown older, I’ve discovered more about her life, career and fabulous wit, and have made it my mission to see as many of her films as possible.

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The best way to remember these incredible women is to continue the causes they fought for: increasing awareness for mental health, reducing the stigma around it and increasing facilities and resources to help with mental issues, not rest until we have equality for all and to make sure we have a laugh while doing so.

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