Robin Williams is dead and I can’t remember when I felt quite so cut up about the premature death of a Hollywood star.
This is particularly odd given that I never could stand a single one of his movies I ever saw (I’m keeping Dead Poets Society in reserve: my son tells me it’s good) and never laughed once at any of his comedy turns, starting with Mork and Mindy, which left me cold.
But now that he’s gone – and in such sad circumstances – I’ve a suspicion that those like me who were always allergic to Williams’s comedy may now reconsider their position and will watch his films in a completely new light.
What I always found offputting about his stuff was its mix of cloying, mawkish sentiment and its manic desperation to please. (Journalists who went to interview him often found this: Williams wouldn’t let you go until he’d wrung every last drop of mirth out of you, whether you liked it or not).
Now, though, I’ve belatedly realised that it wasn’t a case of a smug, childish, overpaid Hollywood star who’d done too much therapy inflicting his talent on you. It was a cry for help. Once you appreciate it this, I think it makes all that saccharine and eagerness-to-please so much more understandable and forgiveable: they were the product not of too much light but of an excess of darkness.
One of these days, soon, I’m going to watch Dead Poets Society in his honour. And RIP Robin – I’m really sorry you’re gone. When you were alive I never felt good about not finding you funny because I could tell you were such an obviously nice, charming, kindly man. Now you’re dead I feel even worse.