The original Star Wars was unleashed upon the world exactly one week before I was.
Some of my earliest memories revolve around multiple re-watchings of an Empire video hired from the backwaters of Woodridge, watching a pirated copy of Jedi at my uncle and aunt’s place (possibly) before it had dropped in Aussie cinemas, and slamming my mum for taking me seriously when I went through a brief ‘too cool for Star Wars‘ phase somewhere around Optimus Prime’s prime and asking her to dispose of all of my toys, posters, bed spreads and Gonk knows what else.
Star Wars has outlasted every pop culture love of my life. Yes, even Kiss.
But when I flicked on my phone at 11:40pm Tuesday to see that Carrie Fisher’s heart attack had seen her become one with the Force, these are the thoughts that went through my head instead of grief…
“I better call the team at work to make sure they know… This is big, I should jump back online to get the story up… Where’s my fucking laptop… C’mon, hurry up and boot up… I need to find a pic, what pic should I run… Alright, so I’ll get the breaking news strap up and Facebook it… I feel sick… Okay, let’s search for video… I wonder who’ll get the first slideshow through… When was her heart attack again? *Googles* That’s right, Friday… Why has my home internet speed dropped back to 1996-speed now when I need it most…”
And so on and so forth until I signed back off an hour later, devoured the Carrie obit on The AV Club mainly to see if the commenters could add any levity to the situation (most couldn’t, at least not memorably enough to recall here), then switched the lights out in the futile hope I could switch from manically wired to comatose in an instant.
Instead, I was alone in the dark with my feelings. And there weren’t any.
Like the metamorphosis of that bad actor you’ll always know as that little boy on Tattooine, Kris the editor’s hostile takeover of Kris the human was now complete.
When cricketer Phillip Hughes died after taking a fatal blow to the head in November 2014, I published story after story to our website through tears – and I did it again when compiling a slideshow of the best #PutYourBatsOut tributes on Twitter the following day. I had no great affinity for Hughes as a cricketer, but his tragedy was compelling. You’re just not supposed to die playing cricket, as my erstwhile colleague Brett McKay wrote on The Roar in the days that followed.
I’ve since worked through horrific events in Sydney, Paris and the entire USA (among other places) without the slightest hint of any pesky cat hair getting in my eye. The occasional crime story will leave me gobsmacked, like the fate that met poor little Tiahleigh Palmer, but for the most part it slides straight off my skin to leave a puddle on the floor which is cleaned up by the time I return to do it all again the next day. It’s cold as hell, but you carry that shit around at your wellbeing’s peril.
Scott Weiland’s inevitable self-destruction touched me, but 2016’s honour roll of celebrity deaths barely touched the sides. Bowie, Rickman, Prince, Cohen… if you discount that weird sinking feeling in my stomach once the Associated Press tweet confirming Prince was truly gone, the events passed me by as a series of work-related boxes that needed to be ticked. (Disclaimer: When Friday night finally arrived that week, my girlfriend and I smashed ample quantities of Prince bombs/Single Malt.)
Then Carrie Fisher came and went, and I realised part of me had departed long before her.
I don’t want to work through Wally Lewis dying to find out if it’s ever coming back.