Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Rest in Peace, Robin Williams

Yesterday, we all received a devastating blow, when the world found out that Robin Williams had passed away. Williams had a huge impact on all of us, so we decided to forgo our content this morning and give the staff a place to share their thoughts and tributes. I'll be updating this post all day as more of them come in - we invite you to share your thoughts and stories in the comments, as well.

Mike Fatum
It's strange to think that one man could be such a part of so many lives. When I was very young, I first met Robin Williams through Nick at Nite reruns of Mork and Mindy - a show my parents had grown up with. Over the next several decades, I would grow up with him as well, through the popular movies like Mrs. Doubtfire and Hook, and through his darker fare like Insomnia and Final Cut - but to me, Robin Williams would always be exemplified by one single role:

What Disney's animators did for Williams was finally free him from the constraints of reality that had been holding him back. The Genie was Williams in his purest form - a madcap, mile a minute style of comedy, punctuated by the sincerest, sweetest moments of pure heart. That no one can ever really separate the Genie from Williams is a testament to how well that film captured him, heart and soul. Aladdin is my favorite Disney movie, and a full 90% of that is because of my love for that big, blue personification of Williams.

When I was in high school, we very quietly put on a version of Disney's Aladdin for elementary schools in the area. In the largest part I'd ever received, I got the opportunity to play the Genie. Most actors would take an opportunity like that and try to put their own spin on the character - I'm not that dumb. Any kid that came to see that show got to see me standing on stage and aping Williams as hard as I could, because there's no way I could ever improve on his performance. I don't think I was as good. But even though I was 1% of Williams' talent, I still was able to steal the whole show by embodying him on stage. His talent was so incredible that a kid doing an impression of him doing an impression can get a laugh.

Robin Williams lifted all of our lives, and touched every single one of us. There hasn't been an actor of any generation since the Stars of the 1940s that had as big of an impact. We will all miss you, Robin. Thank you for being our Pagliacci. May you find the peace in the great beyond that was denied you in life.

Stephanie Cala
When I was a kid between the ages of 4 and 14, I spent my summers visiting my grandparents in California (I had lived in Florida at the time).  Since my grandparents were from the stone age, all they had to offer my sister and I in the entertainment department were a set of jacks, badminton rackets, a flat soccer ball, a deck of cards and a few VHS tapes.  Well, I shouldn't say a few.  More like four total.  They were The Parent Trap, Aladdin, Jumanji, and Mrs. Doubtfire (three of which include Williams).

Now, please understand, my younger sister and I didn't get along as kids.  My idea of a good time with my sister was punching her so I could be put in isolated time out away from her.  My loathing for my sister seemed to be only matched by her incessant need to annoy me.

However, we shared a common enemy: boredom.  My sister and I were in desperate need for something to distract us from the idleness of our own minds.  We would watch, rewind, re-watch, rewind, and re-watch these videos over and over and over again until we practically had them memorized.  Then the following summer we would repeat the process.  The first few summers we had dreaded it, but as we grew older we started looking forward to being able to watch these videos together.  It gave us some common ground in which we could laugh with each other for a few hours instead of hating on each other.

And really, what is comedy without that bit of escape?  Laughter, like music and love, is a universal language.  It's a difficult language to sometimes put to words or set to music, but it's something that can be felt by all.  Williams was one of those amazingly talented people that was able to put those feelings and emotions into words for us to enjoy.  And for that, I'll always be grateful.  Goodbye Robin Williams, you will be missed greatly.

Mae Linh Fatum
I was surprised how deeply the news of Robin Williams death affected me.  Then as I thought about it, Robin Williams plays a starring role in many of my strongest memories.  Aladdin was the first movie I watched so many times that I had memorized it (I even wrote an Aladdin fan fic).  Hook got me into Peter Pan, and Mrs. Doubtfire is still one of the funniest and most heartfelt Dad movies that I have ever seen.  Then I remember channel surfing one day in my dorm room and my roommate and I decided to watch What Dreams May Come. Robin Williams was in it, so it had to be funny.  Flash forward to my roommate and I sobbing our eyes out for two hours straight.  I will always remember that movie, because it has touched me in a deep way, and I hope beyond hope that he is not in that upside down chapel, rather Christopher Reeves got him to the field where he will be joined with his family.

Thank you Mr. Williams for all the laughter and also for making it very clear that depression and suicide is a serious illness.  We will always remember you.

Jarys Maragopoulos

     The sheer amount of Robin Williams movies that were a staple of my childhood and formative to my development are staggering. The Birdcage, Mrs, Doubtfire, Patch Addams, Death to Smoochy, Hook, and Good Morning Viet Nam being among those. However, Robin Williams made one non-comedy that rocked my family and I, led to me reconsidering the supernatural in my life, and made me think more deeply about the suffering of the people around me. That movie was What Dreams May Come. 

     In this film Williams plays a man with a loving, yet realistic family, who dies in an accident. He is taken to the afterlife where his in-life mentor shows him that the joy he brought other in life has resolved itself in to the most wonderful paradise the imagination has to offer. All of his loved ones, past and future are available to share this with him, all but one. His wife, stricken with depression after his death, has committed suicide and this has brought her to a hell created of her own suffering. 

     Risking being pulled in to her suffering for eternity, Williams delves into hell to save her. He finds that he cannot make the decision for her, and instead demonstrates his love, giving her all the joy she gave him in life. Feeling this, she chooses to love and appreciate herself, escaping hell. 

    This story showed me, as a young person, the power that love can have between family and friends. The story played like a metaphor for assisting others from suicide, allowing them to make their own choices but inspiring them with honest and vulnerable shows of appreciation for them. The characters in the story, threatened by hell, are literally saved by the love they have for one another. This meant a lot to me, as I had been suicidal the year before. 

     Despite the suffering he endured in life, I have all faith that Williams has seen the end of that hell. Either there is no afterlife and Williams has left this world better and happier than he found it or....or perhaps the joy he has given us, the good he has done, the laughter he inspired and will continue to inspire as his works are passed from generation to generation has secured for him the best a supernatural existence has to offer. I would like to think that our love for him will keep him from any suffering in death the way depression would not allow in life. 

Nanu Nanu

Megan Marie Fox

Robin Williams has been my favorite actor for over half of my life. Movies like Aladdin and Hook cemented my love for him at an early age. No other actor can carry an entire movie the way Mr. Williams could. The things he did were so clever and so crazy! He operated on a higher level.

As I grew up, I gained a fuller appreciation for him in his PG-13 & R work. I hoped to meet him and shake his hand, or better give him a 'high five'. Unfortunately like most fans, I will never meet him. I missed the chance. I did see him once at the San Francisco Zoo, where he was a huge supporter. He would read to children in the great hall, speak at fundraisers and lead auctions. It was surreal to find out about his death at the zoo, where he was so active. I had to push tears from my eyes while smiling a fake smile for the last thirty minutes of work. How long was he crying behind his happy features?

I will never stop missing Robin. I have never felt so close to a person I will never know. He touched my heart. In his honor, I am donating what I can to an organization supporting mental health. Feel free to join me. We can't bring him back, but maybe we can help someone else.

And now, because Williams deserves to be remembered for the wonderful entertainment he brought us, a few memories to share:

Did you enjoy this article? Follow us on Facebook to get more great content! We have a weekly podcast you can find on our main site. Also follow us on Twitter and Tumblr!

No comments:

Post a Comment