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Try a little tenderness for Robin Williams

Dear Door Guy,

My Facebook has been blowing up the past couple days with news and condolences about Robin Williams killing himself, which is totally f-ed up. I remember watching Jumanji when I was a little kid Good Will Hunting when I was a little older, so it's weird to think that this guy is dead now. Then I read this interesting article here [name and link of blog deleted] which really drove home the fact that he chose what he did and I can't feel bad for him or all these people who seem so bummed. What a shitty thing to do, right?

--Glad it's not me

See also:
Please keep your heroin out of my club

Dear Glad,

First of all, I deleted the link to that blog you posted because it was a shitty blog, by a shitty dude, who is pretty much a right-wing conservative asshole in hipster nerd glasses. Because I see absolutely no need to encourage anyone to read his shitty blog, especially when you summed it up so well.

And, if by "what a shitty thing to do," you meant "reduce an incredibly complex situation driven by a lifetime of depression, chemical dependency, and a host of other challenges to a gross oversimplification to get hits for your soul-sucking Jebus Is Good blog," then I gotta agree. That's what you meant, right?

I grew up on Robin Williams. I wore rainbow stripe suspenders like Mork and cried a little bit as a kid when my grandmother wouldn't take me to go see Popeye. I wore out VHS tapes of the Comic Relief benefit specials because of him and ruined my early teens obsessing about stand-up comedy when I should have been figuring out how to talk to girls. I learned to love '60s pop music watching Good Morning, Vietnam; I smoked weed watching The Fisher King; I cooked my teen angst into a slow boil watching Dead Poets Society. I ignored the vast majority of his later output because I was too old for his family flicks and too cool for everything else but remained a secret sucker for Good Will Hunting. Like plenty of others, I joked that he stopped being funny when he gave up cocaine, and I felt sort of sad when he relapsed some months ago, but honestly, I didn't pay that much attention.

Why? Because in Hollywood, and rock 'n' roll, and professional sports, and in a million other places, plenty of people are partying and plenty of people are hurting and sometimes they're partying to cover up the hurting. Self-destruction is not limited to those with obvious problems and life moves too fast to stop and notice when other people are in a ton of trouble, be it a celebrity or the cool kid you see at the club. Sure, it's easy to dismiss someone as being erratic, or depressed, or bipolar, or drug addicted, as "just plain crazy," if you're profoundly lazy and lack any sort of empathy. The sort of pain that comes from those problems isn't as obvious as someone in a full-body cast. But that doesn't mean that the pain Robin Williams felt wasn't as real, as all encompassing, as overwhelming as a broken spine.

So thanks, Glad, for forwarding me a link to yet another stupid article of many about "bootstraps" and "choices" and "cowardice." I really appreciate it, because up until now I was feeling an awkward mix of sad and pissed about Robin Williams' death. Now, however, I'm just pissed. Pissed at those voices, from Rush Limbaugh to the lamest blogger, who can't help but use someone else's pain to draw attention to themselves. Pissed at those voices that use this tragedy as an opportunity to pat themselves on the back for their utter lack of human decency. With any luck, those of us with an iota of empathy will drown out those voices until they move on to a new target. I hope, in the meantime, that you find something better to be glad about.

Got a question for The Door Guy? E-mail AskTheDoorGuy@gmail.com

See also:
St. Anthony Main Theatre honors Robin Williams with free movie screening

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