In the latest Twitter storm, Steve Martin has apparently been shamed into deleting the tweet he posted in tribute to Carrie Fisher. What was this tweet that was so offensive, you ask? Well, it turns out his words were “When I was a young man, Carrie Fisher was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen. She turned out to be witty and bright as well.”
Apparently, admitting to having found Carrie Fisher beautiful is tantamount to sexism and even, according to New York Magazine’s ‘The Cut’ blog, puts Martin on a level with Jabba the Hutt. Really? A good friend of the actress, admitting that the first thing that struck him about Carrie Fisher were her looks, only to discover on meeting and getting to know her, that she was also “witty and bright”. Apart from the suggestion that he should somehow have noticed her personality and intelligence before clocking her good looks, is it really fair to suggest that his appreciation of her looks puts him on a par with a gross, sweaty, slobbery beast who dressed her in a gold bikini and chained her to the floor at his feet? Really?
Cinnabon, it seems, were also not immune to criticism of their chosen tribute – “RIP Carrie Fisher, you’ll always have the best buns in the galaxy” (accompanied by a picture that made it clear the “buns” referred to were those covering her ears in the famous Princess Leia hairstyle). This was subsequently deleted and an apology issued after a backlash.
Now, I understand the argument that Carrie Fisher was a prominent feminist and never enjoyed or understood being the subject of teenage (and grown-up) fantasy. But surely at some point, even the most staunch feminist can simply accept, and enjoy, a compliment? Are we supposed to simply ignore the fact that Princess Leia was Carrie Fisher’s best-known character, without whom she probably would never have had the career she ended up having and most of us may never have heard of her at all? Nobody tells women that they’re not allowed to rhapsodise over how gorgeous they found George Michael when he was blonde, perma-tanned, still in the closet and prancing around on stage in skimpy denim shorts – yet I’d imagine he was just as uncomfortable with being a sex symbol to so many young women, as Carrie Fisher apparently was to so many young men. But just as Princess Leia catapulted Carrie Fisher to fame, it was the adulation of millions of teenage girls that launched George Michael’s career. Celebrities who try to ignore the past because it doesn’t sit with the way they wish to be seen now that they are successful, are simply hypocrites. And fans who similarly try to rewrite their heroes’ histories to fit a narrative that they can then hold up as inspirational, are equally deluding themselves and fooling nobody else.
Personally, I’d like to think that Carrie Fisher herself would have seen Steve Martin’s tweet for the compliment that was intended, as well as being able to acknowledge the witticism of whichever copywriter at Cinnabon came up with the “best buns in the galaxy”.
As to the legion of “permanently offended” feminarkies who caused such a storm in the first place – I am reminded of the excellent story I was once told by a friend’s younger brother. As he held a door open for a woman in a supermarket, she snapped, “You don’t have to hold the door for me just because I’m a woman”. Quick as a flash he responded, “I’m not. I’m doing it because you’re old”.
Where compliments, or chivalry, are not appreciated, then insults and rudeness will naturally follow. Quite frankly, anybody who thinks Carrie Fisher would have been offended at being called beautiful, witty and bright, is likely none of these.