I’ve always been one to attach myself to celebrities, to consider them my family, to love and revere them. When a celebrity dies, it feels as if it were a member of my own family.
The recent passing of Robin Williams is heartbreaking. It comes as a shock to the entire world. Out of all the celebrities on the brink of self-destruction, the Lindsay Lohans’ and the Amanda Bynes’ of the world, no one would have believed that the next tragic headline followed by an outpouring of tweets and #RIP’s would be Williams.
He was the world’s crazy uncle. The relative that everyone wished they had. He was the genie for gods sake. Robin Williams’ apparent suicide is the reason why mental illness is so dangerous. On the outside, if someone can be as energetic, outgoing and funny as Robin Williams, but be tormented on the inside, how the hell are we supposed to be able to recognize and diagnose signs of inner turmoil?
While I won’t admit to being around Mr. Williams personally, I will say that on the outside, such a natural entertainer would be the best at hiding their pain. At the root of all extroverted personalities is a person who just wants to see others happy. Making people laugh and making people smile is addictive, but feeding that addiction doesn’t take away the pain and loneliness that a person with real feelings is apt to feel.
Robin Williams was the king of making you cry and then following it up with a laugh. From films like What Dreams May Come, Patch Adams, Bicentennial Man to Hook, Jack, Good Morning Vietnam and The Dead Poets Society, Robin Williams’ childish wonder and quick wit were a deadly combination to make a person laugh and yet feel that sense of nostalgia that makes you wish for a hug from your dad.
My favourite Robin Williams movie quip is a direct relation of this feeling and it comes from the movie Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest. By no means was this an Aladdin or even Happy Feet. Fern Gully featured Robin Williams’ voice as Batty, a recently escaped bat from a facility that tests on animals. The “Batty Rap” alone is reason enough to watch the movie and then swear off any products tested on animals. (If you don’t already do so)
The best part of Fern Gully, and what stuck with me my entire life is the part where Batty asks the main character “Are you sure,” about something. She replies, “I’m positive.” Batty quips back, “Only fools are positive!” While the young me never quite got the joke, it was at the time the funniest thing I had ever heard and to this day is a running joke between me and my dad. Never tell me you’re positive about something because you’ll be met with that reply.
As I write this little whatever it is, I’m struck by all the “Robin Williams-isms” that we have adapted. From making jokes about “Jerry Christ”, Jesus’ slacker brother or trying to be “Fosse Fosse Fosse! Martha Graham! Martha Graham! Twyla Twyla Twyla!” the world will never forget what Robin Williams gave them. And neither will I.