I write this post in light of the recent passing of Robin Williams. I daren’t delve into questions of suicide and depression – i’ll leave that to the “professionals”. I think instead what I will do, by way of tribute, is consider, not specifically the works of Robin Williams, but rather the genre, which to me at least, he embodied. My intention is certainly not to pigeon hole his talent into this one category. I am well aware of his vast capabilities and how well rounded an actor he was. To me though, Robin Williams is, and always will be, Mrs.Doubtfire… Peter Pan… Jack.
We #90skids have a way of sensationalising the nineties. Weren’t our movies and cartoons – even our toys – just the best? It is not for me to decide whether the nineties trumps the noughties or whether kids today really do have no idea what they’re missing. At the end of the day, it’s subjective. There was, however, something undeniably wholesome about this period in time. Games, for one, generally involved more than one person and occasionally dared us to venture outside; sitcoms focused on the values of family life; and movies offered us a healthy alternative to reality.
Before horror got truly horrifying, before Pixar pixelated our screens, there was a delightful spell of what might best be described as “family films”. Not animation but live action, fun for the whole family films. Honey! I Shrunk the Kids, The Mighty Ducks, Home Alone… I could go on forever baby (see what I did there?). There is something so quintessentially nineties about these films that it becomes difficult to even imagine them in today’s world. Have we just outgrown them? Are their adventures not quite adventurous enough for the modern audience? Perhaps they are to the nineties what Westerns were to the sixties. A time in space that we can appreciate and look fondly upon but will, most likely never, be revived… which, I guess, is fine. We have the DVDs and the memories.
It is these memories which, I believe, contribute such a huge part to our feeling of loss and grief over Williams’ death. People often ask how we can mourn over people we never knew, or why someone’s death is of more significance because they were “famous”. I would argue that we did know Williams. Perhaps not in a conventional sense but nonetheless in a very real way. To any kid who grew up watching this funny, rather hairy, man play an overgrown child, a nanny, a genie, Robin Williams encompassed a world filled with possibility. He taught us many important lessons: that dude can sometimes look like a lady, that green goo is not a toy, and that under NO circumstances are we to play mysterious board games that appear to be playing the drums. Most importantly, he taught us that it’s ok to be silly. I think this is maybe why we’ll miss him so much. To many of us, he was much more than an actor; to a generation he represents a time in our lives when we felt truly happy.
To paraphrase Tinkerbell:
“You know that place between sleep and awake, that place where you still remember dreaming? That’s where (we’ll) always love you, (Robin Williams).”