Thursday, August 14, 2014

Robin Williams

I'm saddened by the death of Robin Williams this week.  I remember him, like most of my generation, going all the way back to "Mork & Mindy," which I watched every week.  I loved his Comic Relief appearances with Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal and found his performances in so many movies either touching (Dead Poets Society, Fisher King, Good Morning Vietnam) or funny (Popeye, Hook.) I have to admit to never having seen Mrs. Doubtfire or many of his other films, like that one with Matt Damon, so I would say I appreciated his work when I found it more than being a full fan.  Still, he was always there, making us laugh AND think.

And now he's not.

I think it's telling that his death has dominated social media while the death of Lauren Bacall, also this week, has received little attention, except in mainstream media outlets like the NYTimes.  Perhaps that is because his fans are on the internet, hers aren't so much?  Or because his death was a shock and . . . . well, I couldn't have said one way or the other if she were alive.

There has been much discussion of mental health issues, mainly respectful and compassionate (though, perhaps too much ignoring of the guidelines set out to decrease the contagion of suicide after a celebrity's suicide--like focusing on how it happened.  Poorly done, NYTimes to run a whole article detailing the report.  See article on guidelines here.)  I'm glad to see that the dominant mood is sensitive, treating depression and mental illness as diseases and not as failures of will and character.  Ditto the discussion of his battle with addiction.  Now that it has come to light that he was in the early stages of Parkinson's disease perhaps the Death with Dignity folks should speak up about right to die laws, especially for those with chronic or terminal illnesses.  I mean, coincidentally lots of people are taking the ALS ice bucket challenge to promote awareness of the disease--it's funny, but I rather think if people really understand ALS (from which my maternal grandmother died) it would be more helpful to send it the donation, even if it's not the requested $100.  And perhaps support those assisted suicide laws.

So, deep thoughts here at the end of summer.

Nanu nanu

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