I remember the first time I watched Dead Poets Society. It was my dad who suggested it, because he knew I liked writing, he knew I liked poetry and he knew I liked the whole "rebelling-against-the-system" thing, though at age thirteen most of my rebellion consisted of sticking a pencil behind my ear and leaning back too far in my chair.
|I'll be honest, at first Hermione would probably have done a better job of being a rebel than me.|
Anyway, that was my first real exposure to Robin Williams' acting. It took me ages to realise that I'd seen him plenty of times before-in Jumanjii and Mrs Doubtfire, both of which, unsurprisingly, I watched as a kid. (I loved Jumanjii, because I loved the idea of using the game to control everyone I disliked by letting them get sucked into it. Looking back, maybe I was just a very weird child.)
But it was as I got older that I saw stuff like Awakening-one of my mum's favourite films-and became aware that he was in Good Will Hunting-which I need to watch. (I'll get around to it, I promise.) And I knew he was a good actor, even if some of his films weren't-the best.
I didn't actually know too much about his stand up career, though I'd heard of Mork and Mindy. I did know about some of his struggles with alcoholism and drug addiction in the past but I sort of filed it in my head into the "past-struggles" thing and kind of assumed Robin Williams was one of those actors who'd always be around, you know? I kind of assumed he'd live on happily and eventually pass away in his eighties or nineties, probably in his sleep, the way everyone kind of hopes they'll go.
I guess this blog post sounds a little disjointed or fragmented but that's mainly because it hasn't fully sunk in that he's dead. It's eerie to think that someone whose face I watched on a TV screen so many times and just assumed would always be a part of entertainment is dead so suddenly, and something about the fact it's been ruled a suicide is even worse. The fact that Dead Poets Society deals with depression at one stage and that I used to watch it whenever I was feeling down or sad makes it even harder to deal with that the guy who in that film was such an inspiring figure, a reason to keep going, took his own life.
I guess that maybe this is the wrong time to write something like this since it's so soon after the event, but I just wanted to write it. I don't know everything about Robin Williams but I do know that he was a great comedian and that I guess he'd want to be remembered for the ways he made us laugh, as well as the ways his work made us think-and the ways that it may even have helped some of us who felt lost, with no way out, ourselves. It will never stop being sad that he too didn't find something to help him find the way out.
But Robin Williams' films helped many people and he gave a lot of people a lot more laughter in their lives. It's fitting he played a genie at one stage because he kind of reminds me of one-someone who was able to magic comedy from somewhere and make people laugh again. I don't know why he killed himself, and I don't know what will transpire in the next few days as all the media descends on the story. But I do know that I hope that anyone out there who's thinking of harming themselves or taking their own life GETS HELP. Because the world would not be a better place without you. Trust me on that, because even if you think it would, it wouldn't. And if you feel nobody else cares about you, then know that whoever you are, I do, and I don't want you to hurt yourself.
Whatever transpires about Robin Williams' death, I know how I'm going to remember him-as the guy who always brightened up a screen, and the teacher standing on the desk in Dead Poets Society, urging his students to sound a barbaric yawp and reminding them that love and words and stories are what make the world go round.
21st July 1951-11th August 2014