RIP Robin Williams: A Personal Tribute by Bryan Parry

[This post contains some language that may be deemed offensive]

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Hairy, bipedal, primate, Robin Williams, passed away on Monday. The ex-actor (dead, remember) and 1998 Academy Award Winner died from an apparent suicide. No longer will we hear him scream his catchphrase Goood Morning Vietnaaaaam! – because his contractual obligations on that film expired more than 25 years ago, and he is dead (See previous parenthetical comment).

My wife’s first reaction: “Nooo! Why not Brad Pitt instead…?” [1] Why not Brad Pitt, indeed: the question on everyone’s lips. My wife loved Robin Williams so much: he was her idol, second only to Patrick Swayze… “All my favourite people are dying… since I met you”, my wife eyed me suspiciously at breakfast as we heard news of Williams’s demise. Swayze’s death was long-coming and, although sad, completely expected. But when Swayze finally gave up the ghost (see what I did there? Also, note: the only thing funnier than a pun is a pun explained or pointed out), my wife didn’t let me get any sex for six months. Perhaps mentally picturing a dead man every time she let me have my wicked way was just a turn off for her. I’m terrified the same may happen now that Robin Williams is gone: what were you thinking, Robin!?

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Robin Williams’s films helped define my childhood

But quite apart the imminent loss of nookie, I am genuinely in shock and very upset. How can you feel this for someone you’ve never met, never said “hi” to – this numbness and the sense that nothing is real or meaningful anymore? Robin Williams was 63, and I, a mere 29 (chronologically speaking, although psychically my Wii Fit says I am 43), I have never known a world without him. Sure, I’ve never known a world without A. Robinson from Crosby-on-Eden in Carlisle, either [2], but the difference is I grew up with Robin Williams. His films bled into my mind and helped form my outlook on life – for better or worse(!) He was like a kindly uncle you’d see once a year, and who’d never fail to bring a smile to your face. Indeed, me being a member of Generation Y, Robin Williams and his films practically raised me as my parents couldn’t frankly be bothered to adequately balance work commitments with nurturing their sole sprog.

Bicentennial_man_film_posterThe eerie thing is this: the week leading up to his death, me and the wife randomly decided to binge on Robin Williams. We had a Robin Williams-athon: two and sometimes three of his films, every day, for a week. It’s like we almost knew what was coming as we drunk him in… it’s certainly difficult to deny that this constitutes overwhelming evidence for ESP. During this Robin Williams-athon, we rediscovered some films we’d forgotten about, and I broke down in tears at the conclusion of Bicentennial Man, having one of my periodic existential crises. I consoled myself with the knowledge that the film was based on a story by brainy sci-fi heavyweight Isaac Asimov, and that therefore it was intellectually valid to cry at a Robin Williams flick: truth be told, you made me cry so many times, you hairy, stout, hook-nosed, wonderful bastard!

My idols growing up – not just “guys I liked a bit” –, and I swear I’m not kidding: Rik Mayall (died two months ago), Robin Williams, Michael Jackson, and Rolf – seriously. Unlike the last two, however, Robin Williams didn’t enjoy (allegedly) touching up prepubescent cock and/or vag. He was by all accounts a giving and kindly man. Yet he had his dark side that we’re all hearing so much about now. But I don’t want to dwell on that: Robin Williams brought me so much joy, and that’s how I’ll remember him.

(Oh, I also idolised John Cleese, but nothing much has happened to him (the odd divorce aside), so mentioning him would spoil the dramatic point I was making).

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Mork and Mindy: not a funny show

I remember as a young child in the late eighties watching re-runs of Mork and Mindy, the show that launched Williams’ career. Not because it was a good show – it wasn’t: we watched it because there were only four channels in those days and it was raining outside. But I thank God he did make that programme or else the vastly superior semi-remake Third Rock From The Sun would likely never have been made at all (I imagine). And without Mork and Mindy, Robin Williams probably never would have broken through in quite the way he did, and for that reason too, I’m thankful for Mork and Mindy.

Thank you, Mr. Williams.

  • Thank you for inventing Flying Rubber (Flubber): I had a great day out that one time my aunty-to-be took me to the cinema in order to transparently ingratiate herself to me such that I would consent to her marrying my uncle.
  • Thank you for being the foil in The Birdcage and giving us a delicate, beautiful performance.
  • Thank you for Jumanji: this film inspired many a daydream, may have helped instill a love of boardgames which lasts to the present day, and I also won a t-shirt from a Jumanji themed Twister ice cream competition, a win I enjoyed as I was suffering personally at the time.
  • Thank you for the tender loving father and for the cross-dressing slapstick in Mrs Doubtfire.
  • Thank you for The Fisher King: your depiction of Parry was moving and the blurring of reality and fantasy which you portrayed so well meant a lot to a teen obsessed with the nature of reality and concerned by his own failing mind.
  • Thank you for Good Will Hunting: it was the first film of yours I saw which impressed upon me your incredible talent.
  • I want to say thank you for Hook, but it never quite did it for me. Think it’s because I’ve always kind of been suspicious of Peter Pan (and had long since conflated Peter Pan and Michael Jackson sleepovers in my mind). But, yeah, okay, for my wife’s sake: Thank you for Hook!
  • Thank you for Big… no, wait, that was Tom Hanks. Never mind.
  • Indeed, Thank you for every single film you ever made. That includes the odd dud, because even they meant I got to spend more time with you.

So, thank you, Robin Williams (I know he can’t hear me because of the aforementioned being dead and all, but these sorts of things are always addressed to the person regardless of how little sense that makes), thank you so much for all the laughs, all the tears. You touched my heart so many times. No, I’m not one of those people who became a teacher because of the Dead Poet’s Society [3], but you made a difference to my life, you made my existence richer and more joyful. I miss you already.

RIP Robin Williams

RIP Robin Williams: 1951 – 2014

 

References & Notes

[1] Funny ‘cos it’s true.

[2] http://www.thephonebook.bt.com/publisha.content/en/search/residential/search.publisha?Surname=Robinson&Initial=&Street=&Location=WARWICK+BRIDGE++%7b+Carlisle+-+CUMBRIA%7d&OriginalLocation=Warwick&Range=xloc

[3] I am actually a teacher, but I became one because I love dreary form-filling and taking abuse from colleagues and students.

featured image from http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2014/01/08/article-2535891-1A80FA3A00000578-643_634x583.jpg

“Robin Williams’s films helped define my childhood” image from http://www.krock1057.ca/files/Robin-Williams-movie-poster-9pk-set-1.jpg

Bicentennial Man image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicentennial_Man_(film)#mediaviewer/File:Bicentennial_man_film_poster.jpg

Mork and Mindy image from http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/e/e7/MorkMindy.jpg

Robin Williams with a cap image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robin_williams

© 2014 Bryan Ashley James Parry

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