Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I Wanted Robin Williams to Star in My Video Game as a Kid

I want to take a step back from my normal blogging nonsense to touch on the untimely passing of Robin Williams. New details came out yesterday confirming that his death was a suicide and reports have also included the grisly examiner's details over what happened that I won't go into here. When someone takes their own life it's always tragic. When someone takes their own life that has spent decades entertaining the world and filling our lives with laughter it feels like the world collectively became a little quieter.

Robin Williams is one of the greatest entertainers and talented actors of all time. I grew up watching him in a slew of children's films like Flubber and Jack but also appreciated his serious work such as his Academy Award winning performance in Good Will Hunting and his bone-chilling portrayal as a department store photo guy/stalker in the underrated One Hour Photo. The character of Mrs. Doubtfire is possibly one of the most recognizable personas in cinema over the last 20 years and any kid growing up in the 90s has likely played at least one game of Jumanji.

Williams' performance of "Blame Canada" from the 2000 Oscars

While I know he had substance abuse issues over the years that he went to rehab for, I don't think anyone knew just how much of a tortured soul he obviously was. I will be the first to admit that I do not fully understand depression and I think it's impossible for me to be able to completely comprehend what someone who is clinically depressed is going through. I have had friends who were clinically depressed (and some who were undiagnosed at the time) whom I tried to understand but failed miserably. Their reactions to something that was out of their control would take its toll on me which would result in a split in friendship, which isn't fair at all to the people I called friends. Thankfully these people are still in my life and I feel I can better support them with the knowledge I have now.

You can't "cure" depression by saying "oh, it'll be okay, don't worry." That's something I learned the hard way from some of my friends. Depression is like a battle and every day is a new field with fresh artillery. There's great treatment out there but there's still a feeling of shame and embarrassment that people with these conditions face when wanting to seek help. I can't force anyone to seek out help, but I can offer my support so that you know you are not alone. If you are struggling with something then I will listen to you. I will hear you out. I can't feel what you feel but I can do my best to try and understand where you are coming from. You are not alone. Robin Williams is a global icon yet probably felt like the loneliest man in the world and NO ONE should have to feel that way. I would never judge anyone because of something they're struggling with just as I wouldn't judge anybody based on their religion, race, or sexuality. If you're a douchebag then yeah, you just suck. But whatever you're made up of, that's who you are. Be loud and proud.

A failed attempt to rob Mrs. Doubtfire - I used to laugh hysterically as a kid to the "BACK OFF, ASSHOLE!" line

The other thing I wanted to briefly share is a little drawing from my childhood. My friend Trey has always looked up to Robin Williams. I, too, admired his brand of comedy but he was a hero to Trey ever since he was a little boy. As kids, Trey and I would regularly come up with ideas for movies, TV shows, and video games, knowing that one day we'd become the youngest child directors in history. One such idea for a video game was set in an interactive world a-la Spyro the Dragon, but centered around a dolphin named Tux who goes through this world freeing captive animals and kicking ass. We were only about 11 or 12 but made several drawings and storyboards and for a day or two were convinced that we'd get all this work done and pitch it to Sony and they'd make the game available on Playstation the following Spring. And the guy we wanted to voice our main dolphin character? Robin Williams.

Thanks, Mr. Williams, for all the laughs. I'm sorry that through all the laughter and smiles there was a great struggle taking place. I know you are now at peace, but I also know there's much more we can learn to better serve others in the future.