We’re a hypocritical bunch, we humans. Death is a daily occurrence in our society yet only the deaths of those in the spotlight cause us to leap to social media to share our grief, even though the common man or woman who passes away is far more in need of our publicity. Yet every so often, an exception to this occurs. For me it was the deaths of Philip Seymour Hoffman and Clarence Clemens, two occasions where I felt wholly justified in expressing my grief publically. This week, I can sadly ad Robin Williams to that list.
The first significant trait about the passing of Robin Williams that resonates so strongly is that from Mork and Mindy through to Mrs Doubtfire Williams was a childhood hero for nearly three generations of young TV viewers and cinemagoers. As children, we absorb and embrace role models and personal heroes stronger than we ever do as adults. With his death, it is not hyperbolic to say portions of many childhoods have died. Williams was of a time where we didn’t have celebrity information at our fingertips, when we knew them through their public persona and not much more. And we all agreed that he was an incredibly talented and funny person, who always seemed to come across as nothing but kind and genuine outside of his films be it at interviews or premieres etc.
He revealed plenty of information through the years about his struggles with addiction and depression, and seeing him constantly fight back only made him even more endearing to us all. Some questionable film choices in the nineties along the lines of Flubber , Bicentennial Man and Jack affected his reputation within the industry, but such was the resolve of the man that he had made yet another comeback in recent years, and indeed there are a number of films featuring him to be released in the tail end of this year. It doesn’t matter though, even his “worst” films all still feature that trademark warm and comforting Robin Williams style and for his legions of fans they will now only sit more dearly in their hearts.
Stars like Williams are the ones we never meet but feel like we’ve know forever. They become friends to their viewers, a trait particularly strong with the finest comedians, and they are always around at our fingertips to pick us up when we are down. Anyone alarmed at how rocked they are feeling at the news of his death need feel rocked no more. He was a groundbreaker, no different to Elvis in the revolutionary effect he had on his audience, and his death sent shock waves throughout the world. Even in death, he has blessed us all with a revised view and awareness of depression and suicide. Once again, we see an example of how no matter how much wealth and spotlight you may have in your life, it is always possible to find yourself alone. And when you do, you must endeavour to realise that you never are, something he unfortunately could not do. I’ll leave you with some words from the man himself, arguably his finest.
“What’s right is what’s left if you do everything else wrong” – Robin Williams
Samaritans Call Line : 116 123
Suicide Helpline : 1890 303 302
Image courtesy of tonyortega.org