There is a reason we’re exhorted to let a person Rest in Peace, and maybe now is the time to do so

I think the so-called social media is (are?) just a fine thing. I’m not one for getting all het up about how Tweeting or Facebook and other like bits of connectedness are rotting the collective brains of humanity. Well, probably they are, but they’re fun and they fulfil a function.

But sometimes I get tired of the ‘milking’ of topics. They run their courses but everybody still wants to get into the act or to post certain factoids about an issue or a person. Thank God Miley Cyrus’s ass has lost a certain ability to intrigue and jerkish little Bieber boy has just become a bore to nearly everyone since at least Cyrus has a cute ass and ain’t a bad singer, whereas he has virtually no cachet.

But just this week we had the stunning news of the tragic suicide of Robin Williams, and interpretations of the tale, his depressions, his bipolarity, the fact that he really was a sad clown and all that shit has been posted and reposted and reposted. And none of it yet shows any sign of abating. Included were many comments about depression, mental illness, addiction and all sorts of other things that may have led to the death of a comedic ‘icon’ (a term that has been so defiled I have come to loathe it).

And it all has become quite personal as revealed by comments that indicate a certain connectedness with the man and his pain. But, well, I didn’t know him? Did you? At a personal level? And that is just one of the problems with social media, and that is that it becomes a bit presumptuous in that we assume a connectedness that doesn’t really exist.

Don’t get me wrong. I think Williams was an immensely talented comic performer whom I’d easily put in the same category as my personal comedic heroes, Carlin and Pryor. At the same time, when he got onto one of his riffs with its scattergun, all-over-the-place, pee-in-your-pants spiel, I often found the routines had an odd, possibly unintended effect on me. I found myself being frightened for the man. It was so manic that I honestly cannot compare it with the work of any other comic master. In other words, I thought years ago that there were mental health issues at play. I have known real bipolars and the man was decidedly bipolar, but his comedic riffs put that to the lie except for those who know the signs.

If you wanted to see Williams more like he really was, it would probably serve you to watch his more serious films. Personally I never liked any of his serious work, but in those he offered a brooding, sometimes seething, and sometime downright evil countenance for your entertainment(?)

And I thing this item is the last I will mention about Mr. Williams. May he rest in peace and may his family find some solace in their loss. A family which, by the way, likely knew much more about what was afoot with him than any of the rest of us did.


7 responses to “There is a reason we’re exhorted to let a person Rest in Peace, and maybe now is the time to do so

  1. I agree that he always seemed bipolar and troubled, even when being “funny.” You could see pain and sadness in his eyes. When doing talk shows or stand-up, it seemed like he was trying to keep the real Robin hidden, keep his demons hidden. When he recently checked in to a place for help, I had shivers run through me and worried so much for him. I now pray for the family and close friends. They have the pain of loss, sorrow and will probably also feel anger and guilt-guilt that they had not done enough. It is not their fault but those feelings do happen.

  2. I agree with you, and I feel/felt the same sadness in Pryor, actually.

    I do hope he finds peace, wherever he is.


  3. I’ve been having problems with this thing since it happened. Like Hoffman, people are (or more likely pretend to be) devastated at his loss. I don’t get how you can be devastated at the death of someone you don’t even know. Is it unfortunate? Sad? Sure but any more than that seems somewhat histrionic. And tragic? No. Tragic is a thousand dead for no reason in Gaza, it’s them getting way less airtime than Robin Williams. But they’re obviously way less important.

    • Your point about Gaza is excellent, or maybe even St. Louis. At best we know of these people via what they do but we’re not connected other than that, unless we do actually know the person in question. I’d feel terrible if something happened to, say, Kim Cattrall because I actually know her.

  4. Thank you for saying all of that. I almost skipped reading this once I saw that it was about Robin Williams but I am glad I did not because I could not agree more. The man is dead so let us all look away now at other things, quit poking at the poor man and let him rest in the peace of death which he clearly could not find in life.

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