- Posted August 12, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
LOOKING IN THE MIRROR
Robin Williams was born on July 21, 1951. (Gotcha beat, guy! LOL....)
I first took note of this raging bull of comedy when he was Mork on HAPPY DAYS. The shining star of droll humor in a show that -- well -- sorta kinda needed him.
My name is Robert – vis-a-vis his Robin. But my nephew Robert was named after me, and they still call him Robin.
But I didn't really NOTICE Robin Williams until DEAD POETS SOCIETY. A VHS tape pretty much worn out from the number of times I played it. And the day after I first saw it at Academy Six Theatres at the Greenbelt Mall, I drove to St. Andrews School in Middletown, DE, to experience what every movie junkie should live -- going to the filming site then walking through the movie. But I didn't run down that huge field from the dorm to the waterfront yelling YAWP!!! – as Ethan Hawke, another film master, did portraying Todd Anderson's devastation after his roommate Neil (Robert Sean Leonard) committed suicide in the film. Men were out there mowing – I was a visitor – the better part of valor.
When my sister called me last night to tell me the news, I immediately thought of that scene -- and its possible impact upon Robin........). Could that be...???.... naw.
But then again......
The more time that passes after she told me, the more I see myself in Robin Williams. My ancesters are from Delaware (1679 -- bought land from a Delaware Chief), and St. Andrews School is in fact the church school affiliated with Christ Church Christiana, founded, built, and first pastored by my great-great grandfather Rev. Samuel Crawford Brinckle. Another connection. Also, our upbringings have been very similar. My sisters are all older than I, as were Robin's step-siblings; my eldest sister is 10 years my senior.
Robin saw humanity as an absolute target of his histrionic humor. He could never resist that opportunity.
But the biggest connection is, Mr. Keating (Robin's character) inspired me to immediately change my career to teaching. I became exactly like Mr. Keating, and my students have reacted the same way over these 25 years (Neil Perry excepted, fortunately). I have taught the same way -- and the administration responses have also been the same. When I taught 20th Century American Literature to 11th graders, I also assigned the films the novels and plays inspired, plus two other films – SEVEN YEARS IN TIBET (which by itself firmly positioned the American people against the Chinese government) and DEAD POETS SOCIETY. Both films in turn brought forth truly majestic essays by my amazing students. (The American people so, so underestimate the imagination, insight, and capability of their adolescents!!!)
Another Robin Williams great that moved me – and also helped to mold my teaching and literary approach – was GOOD WILL HUNTING. The way Robin's character digs deep into Matt Damon's character is absolute millenial Hollywood – and Broadway too, as it were.
So now suicide?
No, I was not expecting it – certainly not prepared for it. Does this mean such is my fate? No, 'fraid not folks. This is where Robin and I part ways. Does this make me less Shakespearean than Robin? Maybe.
I dunno – maybe by age … (it hurts to say the number, so I won't) we look back and make – er – DECISIONS. I hadn't seen Robin on film in a while. Is that it? Either he didn't want to see himself get progressively older – or maybe he figured his worth had expired since he was not filming much any more. Maybe something deeper – DARKER.... Excuse me for livin', Thesbians, but this is where I get off the bus and bid adieu. I lack the – whatever you call it – to do what Robin did yesterday. If that makes me lesser, so be it. When push comes to shove, I leap off the stage, leave the theatre, and move on with my life.
So yes, this alas is one place where he and I differ. Furthermore, I am NOT by any means the theatrical great Robin Williams was. I am really just saying here that Robin Williams had a huge impact upon my life – taught me many things – set the example for me – showed me where to go and what to do there. For that, Mr. Williams, I eternally thank you. And Planet Earth thanks you, Mork. For all the amazingly great things you did while you were here. We shall never forget you.
And please give all my best to your family and friends when you get back to Ork.
Very Respectfully Submitted,