My Bookshelf

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin Williams - In Memoriam

When I first heard about this, my first reaction was somewhat blase. I only grew piqued when one of my publishers set up a tribute time on his webpage for the dead actor. At that point I kinda lost it. I proceeded to publish what might be called a 'disturbing' review on Amazon and linked it to my comments on said webpage. I wasn't sure how things might unfold after that and considered a three-day Internet moratorium. As it turned out, my post created no ripple, so it's business as usual. The event did make an impact on my end, hence this post.

I wasn't a great fan of Williams, though no one could say they didn't at least admire his work. Now that he's gone and the tributes are saturating the news, one can truly put his contributions in perspective. He was a great performance artist, on the level of (if not surpassing) Andy Kaufman. He was a master of spontaneous combustion, and unlike most on-the-spot funnymen, he was genuinely amusing. He mixed inanity with brilliance, and always failed to embarrass his audience and himself in doing so. Many great comedians become legendary actors, and Williams is no exception. While acting requires exceptional talent, exceptional comedy is a work of genius. In that regard, then we may consider him a genius.

What separates him from Tom Hanks is that rubbery face. Acting isn't all talent, a lot of it's about looks. Hanks' boyish looks may have elevated him past Williams, but it was Robin's face that made him the better comedian. Maybe that's part of what caused the depression - we'll always grope for answers. You have to grope in wondering what made such a man take his life. He would've had a choice of beautiful women, and had enough friends and admirers to last for more than a lifetime. He was a millionaire many times over, and left a legacy that few can match. Killing yourself? That's what pissed me off.

His last act gives many of us the green light. It's okay to give it up and opt out. Hell, Robin Williams did, and look at all he had going for him. All of us starving artists, all the veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, all those submerged in poverty, abuse and neglect - go ahead, hang yourself. I look at all the scars on my wrists, all the failed attempts, trying to summon the courage to take the coward's way out. That's socialism for you. If you're one of their heroes, you can hang yourself and they'll say you went out with your head held high.

So let's go ahead and drink a toast to Robin Williams. A great talent, a superb actor, a legendary comedian. Maybe he offed himself, but at least he left the world a better place than he found it.

For those of us on the lunatic fringe, let's sharpen our razors, reload our pistols, and try it again tomorrow. Today we know they aren't gonna miss us near as much.