I’ve never had a celebrity that I cared about die on me. I did not realize that any celebrity could actually affect me this way. Hell, I didn’t even realize that I cared about him.
But the internet has been all a-buzz about it, so I had a lot in front of my face to think about – and I think I know why I care about it.
My childhood was quite turbulent, as family goes. I did not see much of my extended family very often. My parents divorced when I was young, so I never saw both sides congregate at anything until my older brother got married – and even then, a last-minute date change forced a great deal of them to not be able to show.
My point is that I never knew my uncles very well. Some friends of either of my parents sort of filled that role a bit, but it never quite cut it.
From what I understand of the real world, uncles are supposed to be accessible to young people. They make a whole bunch of jokes that you don’t get – and they explain them to you, despite your parent’s wishes. They show you all about those noisy and destructive things that your parents don’t want to teach you – but parents don’t want to teach you only because they would rather not be the ones responsible for you having that knowledge (it’s a ‘plausible deniability’ thing, I think). They impart a whole bunch of wisdom that your parents have been trying to hammer into you for years – and you don’t even think to resist them.
I saw Robin Williams more often than I saw much of my family. He is funny and does almost nothing but tell jokes. When I started getting old enough to understand the important things in life, I was exposed to some of his drama. Even in his drama he is funny and manic sometimes. I can still recite that little portion of a poem that he recited in A.I.
Thinking back, I think even his manic characters are important for me where my philosophical landscape is concerned – Aladdin‘s genie wanted freedom – he could literally get anything but freedom, and freedom was all he wanted. The genie’s primary goal was to make life good for Aladdin. He did that with his magic, sure – but he also imparts incredible advice, in some extremely overt ways, when Aladdin needed it. Whether Aladdin wanted it or not (“Tell. Her. The. TRUTH.”)
He never talks to me directly, but he is always addressing me. In any role that he portrays, there is some moment where he takes control of the scene and says some incredible, profound wisdom.
He is one of those people that, at this point in my life, I would invite over to my house for a humble dinner if I saw him on the street. Very few celebrities are on my short list of “people I want to have over for dinner.”
I am not totally sure what I am getting at here. I know that I want to be a good uncle for my nephew (he is a gigantic little 2-year old child), and I will probably look to Williams as an example for that. But otherwise, I gotta say – I miss him already. But remember that thing that he got the most joy from was making people laugh. So crack a joke for every tear that you shed for him.