It’s Tuesday, December 27th 2016, and I just found out Carrie Fisher, who we all know and love as Princess Leia, passed away.
This ends a year where many famous people have passed away that played a role in the pop culture that makes up my childhood and young adulthood.
I loved David Bowie and his music, and I will always remember his performance of Dancing In the Streets with Mic Jagger at the opening of Live Aid in Philadelphia.
I also remember him in the weird and wonderful movie Labyrinth. Bowie was always cool, mysterious, and inaccessible in some ways. But his music was part of the pop culture backdrop for many of us whose “formative years” were in the 80’s.
Then we lost Prince. Who was suffering from hip pain (just when we’re all feeling older ourselves). Prince was the cool cat of the 80’s and 90’s. who had songs you danced to, wondering what 1999 would ever be like, when it seemed so far away.
Just a few days ago, George Michael joined the list, one of those folks whose music made us happy and want to dance, and also taught us a lot about tolerance at the same time.
Then we lost Gene Wilder, who I loved from Willie Wonka and from Blazing Saddles equally, not to mention The Producers and Young Frankenstein.
We lost Alan Rickman, who my kids appreciate as Snape in the Harry Potter movies, but I loved him in Truly, Madly Deeply and the January Man long before I had ever heard of the Boy Wizard.
We lost Florence Henderson and Alan Thicke, who played the TV parents we all kinda wished we had, particularly when in the middle of teen angst, we thought our parents were the worst and didn’t understand us a lick. Now that we’re parents ourselves, these family sitcoms are no longer the norm, so our kids don’t see parenting and family in the same rosy bubble as we did watching The Brady Bunch, Growing Pains, or Family Ties.
Bill Cosby hasn’t passed away, but the wheels came off his perfect Dad image last year and he’s been in court locally this year, so it’s the death knell to those memories of fatherly perfection as well.
Then there’s Gary Marshall, who made half the TV shows I grew up with- from Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley, and Mork & Mindy to sappy rom-coms I love, ranging from The Princess Diaries, to Pretty Woman to Overboard and even Beaches.
Leonard Cohen died- there’s not enough to be said about his music.
And eve the wacky Zsa Zsa Gabor died, who we basically knew from Green Acres (or was that her sister?) and being center square on game shows we watched while home sick.
And now Carrie Fisher and even the guy who played R2-D2 passed away this year, making Star Wars, which I saw when I was around 10, seem so very long ago. But Star Wars is something my whole generation is getting to relive and reshare with our kids with the new movies coming out, making it feel like a bridge from our childhoods to those of our kids.
All of this is making me feel old today. It makes me feel like my childhood is REALLY over now, and I’m really an adult. I’ve always felt a little younger than everyone else, in part to being the youngest in my class all through school. But now the folks who helped really mold the Gen-X culture are passing away. The folks who were perhaps not our contemporaries, but certainly the influences in fashion, attitude and everything are ebbing away one by one.
2016 feels like a watershed moment in many ways.
The MTV generation has finally had to grow up. Our heroes are breaking hips and having heart attacks, and no longer just dying in the tragic but fundamentally reckless way that we would perhaps expect to happen, like when John Belushi passed away.
I want to go hide under a blanket.
But instead, we’ll get up and do the grown up thing.
But how I wish I could stop adulting for just a few hours, and go back to sometime around 1984, when I first met my now husband, and experience that carefree joy that wasn’t interrupted constantly by texts, emails and calls, and the need to be available 24 x 7.
Goodbye 2016. May 2017 be better in just about every way.