Goodbye Robin Williams
Rest in peace Robin Williams. As a child, he made me laugh hard, especially with Jonathan Winters at his side. In college he kept me company as I did my homework, watching in awe as he did his crazy characters on David Letterman.
He was also so capable of a poignant earnestness and an intense tenor in his dramatic work, that still resonates with me years later. Awakenings. Dead Poets Society. The Fisher King. Such a legacy of work in film and television he left for us to appreciate in the years to come.
I choose to celebrate the work he left for us to enjoy. Barry Levinson’s Good Morning Vietnam is just one of a string of great films Williams made. Different generations know him from different works. My generation remembers him on Mork & Mindy and from his appearances on Late Night With David Letterman. The younger generation remember him from his performances in Mrs. Doubtfire, The Birdcage, and Good Will Hunting. All of these shows showcased different facets of his unique talent.
Good Morning Vietnam is the one film performance of his that I will remember most though, out of all the creative work he gave us.
Good Morning Vietnam was released during an era when many films—Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, Casualties of War—were addressing the global impact of the Vietnam War, or the “American war,” as the Vietnamese call it. Good Morning Vietnam has always stuck with me though, because the film’s focus—while hinting at the atrocities of armed conflict—was at its core a celebration of life, love, and the healing power of great American pop music.
Depression is an ugly beast, is far more common that one might expect, and is a condition and/or state that must be discussed. Understanding and not stigmatizing depression will help us help ourselves, help us to help each other, and allow us to grow as a society.