Let’s face it – 2016 was kind of sucky for fans. Many beloved pop culture icons lost. The latest is Carrie Fisher (and shortly after, her mother Debbie Reynolds). To say the biggest “duh” comment in the world – one of the biggest pieces of Carrie’s career was her role as Princess Leia in “Star Wars,” which has a huge fan following. One of these fans has done something truly remarkable in a year punctuated with sadness.
I remember first coming across my Facebook friend Jason when I saw him in a fan documentary I found in 2011 at one of my favorite stores, Newbury Comics, in a used documentary section for $2.99. That film “Star Wait” soon become one of my favorites. Seeing these friends withhold an old tradition, fighting off the naysayers, fighting off drunken hecklers on the touristy Walk of Fame, and sometimes fighting each other, this community waited in line for over three weeks for “Star Wars: Episode 2” to premiere in a historic Hollywood theater while raising money for a charity called the Starlight Children’s Foundation through their fan organization LiningUp.net. I still watch it once in a while to this day, and likely will right after I finish this blog.
I got to interview Jason after linking up with him on Facebook in January 2012 (which you can listen to via the audio file I uploaded on YouTube here) about his fandom and what it was like to be in that documentary, getting all that attention. “I don’t think I can go a day without referencing it,” Jason said of the franchise. “I don’t think it ever really leaves you, you know?”
Jason tells the story in the interview of how he got into the franchise: “I don’t remember seeing Episode 4 in a theater in 1977 because I was three [years old] but I do remember seeing ‘Empire Strikes Back’ in the theater and something about it – I think it’s part of [being from] a generation looking for father figures, examples, you know, a generation raised by women, all that stuff. Somehow ‘Star Wars’ gave me those role models. It gave me a sense of what good was.”
When news of Carrie Fisher’s heart attack spread out, Jason was very upset, saying “this can’t happen” and proclaiming to donate multiple organs for her survival. When the news circulated that she had passed on, he stated in a Facebook post “This loss will always cause us pain, but a pain tempered by her towering legacy and the knowledge her life will echo through time.”
His words were not enough. Not when the work she and many others had given to the “Star Wars” franchise gave him and others so much. So he decided to take a step further. “Our princess didn’t have a star, so I gave her one.” He crafted a Hollywood Walk of Fame star in a vacant star spot, and this heartfelt act did not go unnoticed.
TMZ has covered the event, as well as The Hollywood Reporter, even Variety, and the list goes on and on. Even Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker in the same franchise, has a photo of her makeshift star adorned in memorabilia and trinkets pinned to his Twitter profile. Yet I haven’t seen a majority of this coverage credit Jason. Despite this, there are no bitter posts from him. Nothing but “thanks” to those in his same fan community for coming out, seeing the tribute, and for grieving together as a fan community for this loss.
Because that’s the kind of person Jason is. He is the Force, and the Force is truly with him.