Carrie Fisher Leads an Older, Wiser Revolution
The older woman has had a stellar year in 2016—from Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda in Grace and Frankie to Carrie Fisher show-stealing the Star Wars premiere.
Carrie Fisher solidified her status as a national treasure when she took a light saber to the unfortunate baboons with Internet access who somehow thought the most worthwhile criticism of Star Wars: The Force Awakens was related to General Leia’s physique.
On Twitter yesterday, Fisher politely and firmly blasted the sad people who have nothing better to do with their time than mock a woman’s body.
Fisher racked up further Internet ass-kicking points when she responded to lovely civilians, like @TomRoberts983a (whose Twitter photo is of a man in a cowboy hat flipping off the camera and a bio that states “Hater extraordinaire. I’d rather be sleeping. Hypocrites can fuck off. I don’t follow back so don’t bother.”)
While he tweeted at her “you want the money & adulation that comes with being a famous actor but not the criticism. Whoever told you life was fair?” Fisher swiftly responded, “Youth&BeautyR/NOT ACCOMPLISHMENTS,theyre theTEMPORARY happy/BiProducts/of Time&/or DNA.”
Normally, ignoring the trolls and taking the (relative) high road on Twitter is the way to go, especially for celebrities.
But Fisher has refined the art of being a badass truth-teller who gives zero fucks, a fact she has made abundantly clear through the Star Wars press junket.
When Fisher did an interview with Amy Robach for ABC’s Good Morning America, she swatted away the thinly veiled questions about her weight loss (her “transformation” as Robach referred to it) for Star Wars.
“I think it’s a stupid conversation,” Fisher said dismissively, then added, “but you’re so thin, so let’s talk about it.” She turned the questioning on Robach. “How do you keep that going on? Do you exercise every day? Isn’t it boring?”
When Fisher was asked if George Lucas needed to convince her to reprise her performance as Leia, her answer was strong, classic, and packed a punch, the verbal equivalent of Scotch on the rocks.
“No, I’m a female in Hollywood over the age of, let’s say, 40. We could also say 50… we could say it but not with real conviction or excitement,” Fisher said. More prescient than ominous, she told Robach, “You’ll see someday.”
With decades of acting, writing, and dealing with the press, Fisher is an expert at demolishing superficiality in the most entertaining way possible—and she had several sisters-in-arms this year.
From entertainment to politics, 2015 was the year that women of a certain age proved they were simply the best at kicking ass and taking names.
At 78 and 76, respectively, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin killed it in Netflix’s Grace and Frankie. They both starred in the sitcom—about two women whose lives are upended when their husbands of 40 years come out and announce they plan to marry each other—and served as executive producers.
“When women pass 50, in some ways, their lives get better,” Fonda told The New York Times. “It’s like: Who cares? What do we have to lose to not be brave? We’re not in the marketplace anymore for guys. Our children are grown. So go for it. I wanted to do a series about that.”
Tomlin nabbed an Emmy and Golden Globe nomination for her performance, in addition to the one she earned her for her widely praised role in Grandma as a lesbian grandmother who helps her granddaughter get money for her abortion.
As The Daily Beast’s Kevin Fallon noted in a profile of her this year, “there seems to be a Lily Tomlin moment.” Amen.
Netflix has already ordered a third season of Grace and Frankie, which happens to have been created by another woman of the age often cast aside by Hollywood, 59-year-old Marta Kauffman (who also created Friends).
In terms of barnstorming performance, forget Miley Cyrus and Rihanna. Aretha Franklin, singing “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” in honor of the song’s co-writer Carole King at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors—Franklin wearing a fur coat which she eventually shucked off—showed singers of all ages the meaning of singing and stage brilliance.
Then there are our favorite Brits: Dames Helen Mirren and Maggie Smith.
This year, Smith completed her stint on Downton Abbey—which returns for its final season on Sunday—having appeared in every episode of the series.
It’s enough for a woman over 40 in show business to find good roles. Smith is 81, and delivers our favorite barbs and pearls of wisdom with delicious distinction. “A woman of my age can face reality better than most men,” she intoned as the Dowager Countess.
Smith fans can look forward to the release of Nicholas Hytner’s The Lady in the Van, in which she plays Miss Shepherd, the woman who lived in playwright Alan Bennett’s London backyard for 15 years.
This post-Downton part looks set to allow Smith to exercise every cantankerous bone in her body.
Meanwhile, 2015 was one of the best years for Mirren’s career, which is saying quite a lot considering she’s won nearly every award available in her 50 years of acting.
Mirren, 70, nabbed a Tony Award this year for her performance as Queen Elizabeth in The Audience.
Mirren also earned Screen Actors Guild nominations for her performances in Woman in Gold and Trumbo (for which she also snagged a Golden Globe nomination).
Thus, like Tomlin, Mirren nabbed top nominations for not one but two projects this year—of course, that’s NBD for these ladies. When not starring in lauded roles, Mirren regularly dazzles on the red carpet, though vanity is far from her top priority.
“As I get older, I don’t look as good, but I don’t give a damn,” Mirren told ET. “There’s a huge pressure on young girls to look a certain way these days but, as I age, I’ve lost that incredible insecurity of youth.”
Older women weren’t only making waves on the screen. Caitlyn Jenner not only dramatically and instantly changed the way Americans thought and talked about trans rights when she appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair in June; she made history as the magazine’s oldest woman to appear in the coveted spot.
Women over the age of 60 were also having some of the most influence on our domestic and international politics.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was named Time’s Person of the Year, (thankfully) beating out Donald Trump. She’s closing in on a decade as the official leader of Germany and, as Time put it, “de facto leader of the European Union.”
From guiding the continent through the Euro crisis to navigating the rush of refugees, Merkel has maintained power and calm during one of the toughest, most uncertain periods of recent memory.
In the political gauntlet that is the race to the White House, Carly Fiorina has held her own amidst the GOP sausage fest. Fiorina is far from a frontrunner or a likely nomination, and there’s plenty of reasons for criticizing her political views and her business practices. Still, Fiorina’s got balls or, shall we say, vagina for not disappearing silently.
While many of her Republican peers have tiptoed around Trump, Fiorina’s greatest moments of power and poise have been when she’s gone after his sexism.
When asked during the second Republican debate what she felt about Trump’s un-classy remarks about her looks, Fiorina responded simply, “I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.”
Whoever wins the Republican nomination will almost certainly have to contend with Hillary Clinton, the 68-year-old former Secretary of State.
Trump may claim that Clinton was schlonged and make immature, baffling insinuations about her need to eliminate bodily waste (as all functioning humans do).
After more than a decade in politics, Clinton is well acquainted with superficial attacks, but also knows how to use them to her advantage. As she once quipped, “If I want to knock a story off the front page, I just change my hairstyle.”