Even if you weren’t Robin Williams’ biggest fan you could probably appreciate the phenomenon of high speed inventive humor that launched him originally. The imagination of the man was a force of nature. The quickness of it, and the length of time with which he could sustain that rapid unspooling of surrealistic ideas was enviable to a lot of creative people.
Not that it was entirely, 100% enviable. He was like a champion athlete whose body was surely taking permanent damage. But in the case of Williams it was his mind, not his body that was performing in over-drive for decades. He was on the razor edge, where he would have to be, to make it so big in comedy.
His life and career will be scrutinized for decades to come. I want to focus more now on the public reaction to his death, and what we might learn from it. I realize that Robin was a big part of the lives of a lot of people.
It is important to remember that we cannot know what was going on in the mind of someone who follows through on suicidal thoughts. Every one of us is so different. We know our fingerprints and retinal prints are all unique. Like snowflakes, there has never been another just like you. But our psychological lives are as complex as galaxies. (Not much of an exaggeration.) That is the case even with the most simple-minded of us, so imagine a creative genius. We can’t judge the last moments of Robin Williams’ life. We would have to be in his mind. We weren’t there. The manner of his death suggests that it was an impulsive act. It came after years of severe depression and addictions.
This person was about as popular as it gets in the United States, and worldwide. His movies generated over five billion dollars. He was beloved. He even transcended our political divide. I didn’t think the man had any enemies. Hard to imagine that he did. But when the news of his death hit, the reactions were at times astounding.
Over at Fox “news,” Shepard Smith said that despite having beautiful children, “something inside you is so horrible, or you’re such a coward, or whatever the reason, you decide that you have to end it.” This was said only hours after Williams’ death had been announced.
In New York City, America’s cultural capitol, The Daily News rushed out a front page with a close-up picture of Robin Williams and a gigantic one-word headline – “HANGED.” Seeing it, I was awe-struck, contemplating the ages, the eons of time that must surely pass before I would ever contribute another red cent to the New York Daily News. Never, ever, ever again will it happen. Here’s hoping you will follow my lead on that one.
Rush Limbaugh, within 48 hours of the tragedy, linked William’s death to being politically liberal. Conservatives never commit suicide, apparently,“… Now, what is the left’s worldview in general? What is it? If you had to attach not a philosophy but an attitude to a leftist worldview, it’s one of pessimism, and darkness. Sadness. They’re never happy, are they? They’re always angry about something. No matter what they get, they’re always angry …”
Subway Sandwich shops bring you the Rush Limbaugh show.
Other, lesser celebrities chimed in to condemn Robin Williams, too. But the worst came from no-names on social media. In the Comments section of news stories about the tragedy, upstanding, red-blooded American patriots sounded off this way – “What sticks in liberals’ craw is that Limbaugh is actually ‘wealthy’ and hasn’t blown it on booze, coke and women. His net worth is real, and he’s still earning $50 MILLION a year, something Robin Williams couldn’t do, and thus he was back to taking bit parts and piece work to pay the bills. Rush knows how to manage his money, and knows how to plan for his future, unlike many liberal ‘famous’ so-called people.”
It was a running theme of the Comments sections. The comedian killed himself because he was in such desperate financial straits. His publicist finally came forward to say that “anyone would be blessed” to have Robin Williams’ net worth.
Since it is 2014, it should go without saying that Williams’ death instantly triggered conspiracy theories. Wild, weird, wacky conspiracy theories. On the web site “Before It Is News” dot com, an article appeared on August 13th entitled “This is Why They Killed Robin Williams.” It stated that it was no suicide at all. “Globalists” murdered Robin. Why? To distract Americans from their deep, dark … crimes.
The ultimate came on Twitter. Incredible as it may seem, at least two so-called “trolls” began besieging William’s daughter, Zelda, with messages of horrifying hatred. They relentlessly sent her insulting messages, including graphic photographs of dead bodies. Ms. Williams finally abandoned her Twitter account. My hope is that someday she will make at least a symbolic return, as Twitter is too important a resource to give up to such cretins. The “trolls” were suspended, and Twitter execs pledged to do the same in any similar cases going forward. I think these crumbs should have been prosecuted. Such grotesque harassment goes well beyond any First Amendment defense.
All of this happened before funeral arrangements were even made for Robin Williams. He had not been autopsied yet, and these clods, of almost unimaginable personal dishonor, were delivering this venom to his family, friends and fans. Mental illness destroyed Robin Williams. Maybe that’s also the explanation for the nauseating behavior described above. Whatever the cause, it does make me long for the time when this kind of thing was not so relentlessly commonplace.