After too many decades of way too many Christmas gifts, my family finally started a "Secret Santa" tradition a few years ago. At first, it was just the grownups; my daughter who was probably a tween when we started and my niece who is ten years younger were exempt. They still raked in truckloads of toys.
The rest of us agreed to a more sober approach, drawing names at Thanksgiving and then purchasing one, fairly modest gift for the person we've chosen. Nice and civilized. This year, my mother pulled my name and gave me a soft infinity scarf (from Ann Taylor Loft), which my daughter is already coveting.
But, I wrangled another gift as well.
My younger brother, aghast upon learning that I had not yet seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens, treated me to a matinee. And not just any matinee. The theatre, on 42nd street just west of Times Square, boasted a food court rather than a lowly concession stand, enormous reclining seats, and a sound system so advanced that said reclining seats shook all through the previews. I could only imagine what would happen once we boarded the Millennium Falcon.
I saw the first Star Wars the year it came out (more than once). I was 15 and loved it, particularly moody young Luke Skywalker (as the second and third movies came out — and I grew up a little — my allegiance switched to roguish Han Solo). At any rate, my holiday invitation to the new installment included one for my own teen daughter. Alas, after Harry Potter, Twilight, Hunger Games and Divergent, Star Wars was a bit too old school for her. (Plus, she was in NYC for just a few days and wanted to enjoy it. She ended up going downtown with her dad.)
The movie was really quite wonderful. ("Awesome" is actually the first word that comes to mind.) My niece was kind enough to show me how to work the space-age seat, and with some gentle if persistent reminders from my sister-in-law didn't give anything away. Not to worry ... I won't either.
Of course, one of the best things about the new Star Wars is the reunion of the cast members of the old Star Wars. Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford are all in attendance, and appear to have enjoyed the experience immensely. But, let's do a little math. The first film was made in 1977. That's 38 years ago.
Do you look like you did 38 years ago? 'Didn't think so.
Should we expect actors — and, more particularly actresses, since they're the ones under fire — to stay young and slim, gravity-defying and ageless? Apparently, there are thousands of trolls on the Internet who think we should.
It's ridiculous. Of the movie's three stars, I would argue that Fisher looks the best. Then again, Hamill and Ford aren't being unfavorably, and unfairly, compared to 20-year old versions of themselves in gold bikinis. And, while much has been made about Fisher's 35-pound weight loss for the role, there's been very little press about the 50 pounds Hamill had to lose.
So, once The Force Awakens actually awakened (after the most hype Hollywood has ever generated and exponentially record-breaking presales), the Web pretty much exploded with mean-spirited criticism about her looks and whether or not (they were quite vocal about the "not") she had "aged well."
"YOU DIDN'T AGE WELL AND YOU SUCKED IN STAR WARS. IT WAS A REST HOME PIC."
Critics and TV personalities participated in the bashing too. John O'Reilly on Fox stumbled through an attempted Fisher diss after alluding to a major spoiler: "But it comes out worse for our friend Carrie Fisher, Princess Leia, because she doesn't look like Princess Leia."
Um. Maybe because she's General Leia now. Did ya see the movie, John?
When Fisher responded, she was greeted with more abuse.
"Showbiz is optional ... fame and age come with it ... don't agree Carrie? Give all the money back."
"So you want the money & adulation that comes with being a famous
actor but not the criticism. Whoever told you life was fair?"
But, if there's anything to be learned from this, it's not to match wits with Carrie Fisher. She will win.
"Please stop debating about whether OR not I aged well. Unfortunately it hurts all 3 of my feelings. My BODY hasn't aged as well as I have."
And, even more thoughtfully ...
"Youth and beauty are not accomplishments, they're the temporary happy
by-products of time and/or DNA. Don't hold your breath for either."
You tell 'em, Princess ... er ... I mean General!
And, one more thing. I'm five years younger than Fisher, and I won't be getting into a gold bikini any time soon.
So, don't hold your breath for that either.
If you've enjoyed this post, I invite you to order the book Lovin' the Alien here.