Happy Birthday Robin!
Normally I’d post this over at my old school long form (remember newspapers – made of paper?) blog A Marked Spectator, but this felt worthwhile to share with fans of Mark Roman the Entertainer (not merely the writer).
Remembering Robin reminds me of artists still alive today who struggle with demons both inner and American.
Unlike many heterosexual white guys in positions of power and influence today, Robin demonstrated some empathy with those who were not. (If the word “empathy” confounds you, please refer to any “boring and preachy part” of the Smartest Man in the World Podcast given to us by the singular Greg Proops.) Two of Robin’s best known roles involve him playing a woman (“Mrs. Doubtfire”) and a gay man (“The Birdcage”).
Just last night NBC news asked: Why Haven’t 70,000 Rape Kits Been Tested for DNA? As an apparent heterosexual white guy (when I’m not in the short shorts and tactical leg warmers), this bothers me. And those who are not a heterosexual white guy? How safe do they feel, say honing their comedy act at numerous clubs in cities across America? Late at night? Perhaps alone? What comedy acts are we missing because those who are not heterosexual white guys … don’t feel as safe?
For that matter, what unique live performance acts, comedic or otherwise, are we missing? When buskers fail to experience equal rights (if not equal respect) from law enforcement and “job-creating” business across the fruited plain, I find that a fair question to ask. Consider the case of a busker friend of mine in Las Vegas recently.
Entertainers or not, what human beings are we missing? Maybe if depression were better treated in our “Members Only” society of “winners” and “achievers”, less people would commit suicide. Or attempt, like I once did.
Or if one has to wrap this in a flag, what veterans are we missing? Or their families? A high school classmate of mine posted today she only got results from the VA for her father (disabled by his military service) after appealing directly to President Obama. This is how we continue to treat veterans and their families. In 2015.
Do we deserve the joy Robin gave us alive (and forever in TV, film and recorded audio)? Before we answer that, can we consider how we STILL treat those who in some small way identify with elements of Robin’s life? Are we helping to create an America or a world worthy of the gift of a Robin Williams? If we enjoyed “Good Morning Vietnam,” “Good Will Hunting” or Robin’s live acts like on Set List (or at Comedy Day, my one Robin-in-the-flesh experience), perhaps we should ask that question more often. If only we can manage to put down whatever flag we happen to be desperately waving for a moment – and reflect.
[My original post about Robin just after he passed.]