Monday, August 11, 2014

Robin Williams 1951-2014

I'm rather surprised by the depth of the emotional reaction I'm having to the news that Robin Williams is dead, apparently having committed suicide. I've been watching him my entire life. I used to watch Mork & Mindy when I was a kid. I saw Hook about a dozen times as a kid, and as unwatchable as I find it now, it shaped me a lot in the years after my parents' divorce. Jumanji was a movie Becca and I loved in the theaters. Even now, in the Night at the Museum movies, whatever you may think of them, he's my favorite part. There's just something about Williams that I've always responded to and always recognized.

And of course he was funny. I had one of his albums as a kid that I laughed at for years and years. The man was brilliant. He wasn't a comic, he was a comic artist. Just a few months ago, I listened to his album Reality... What a Concept for the first time, and was blown away by his ability to create characters and his prowess with words. I remember laughing so hard at a particular moment in Good Morning, Vietnam that my Mom came back into my room to ask if there was something wrong with me.

The list of movies I liked him in is long and varied, from The World According to Garp to Aladdin to The Fisher King. I often liked him even when I didn't like the movies, unless he was with a director that leaned to hard on the "earnest" or "whimsy" buttons.

But the movie of his that probably will live the longest in my heart is Mrs. Doubtfire. That movie came along a few years after my parents had divorced, when I was 16. That was yet another movie about a man who takes extraordinary measures to win back his wife after their divorce, and it doesn't work. Rather than being yet another slice of Hollywood BS about divorce, it was the first movie I'd really seen that argued that divorce wasn't a tragedy that ruined your life forever; even if, at the end, Robin Williams spoke directly to the camera to tell the kids in the audience that sometimes parents divorce and you can still be okay, it was exactly what I needed to hear.

And for that alone I'm grateful to him. The countless hours of entertainment that come with it are a bonus.

I'm so sorry he died, and in the way he did.

If you're struggling with depression, please seek professional help, I beg you. If I hadn't done so when I did, I wouldn't be alive right now.

1 comment:

Roger Owen Green said...

I think your last paragraph answers your first sentence. You relate, I relate to that SOMETHING that would allow one to kill oneself. I haven't written anything yet (been home less than an hour), but I think his death points out our fragility