I used my “Pat Political Point” segment on WSGW’s First Day this past Sunday to focus on the tragic passing of Robin Williams, and the impact he had during my early years.
As you’ll hear, I talk about how his role in Good Morning, Vietnam inspired me to someday work in radio. I also share how his character in Dead Poets Society taught me to “swim against the stream,” once in awhile.
I received some positive feedback on the segment, but I received this email which bothered me somewhat:
They are only actors. I could not help but notice that you did not mention his drug and alcohol abuse over his lifetime, maybe this contributed to his health issues, and several marriages. Lets hope our young children do not look up to these types as you do.
It wasn’t his misspelling of my name that bothered me. Rather, it was this flippant attitude some in this country have towards “actors,” as if they have nothing of value to contribute to society.
I responded that Williams suffered from depression, which is a disease. This caused him to abuse certain substances, which is also a disease. We should have compassion for those suffering from those afflictions. I added that if we’re supposed to discount people because they’re actors who have multiple marriages, then I no longer want to hear about the greatness of Ronald Reagan.
Was Robin Williams a flawed man? Of course. Is there such a thing as a perfect human being? If so, please point me in their direction. I’d like to meet them.
Is his life filled with several examples of selflessness? Absolutely. Ask the military members who referred to him as the “new Bob Hope” due to the numerous trips he made to Afghanistan and Iraq. Or read about the work he performed to help St. Jude raise awareness and funding for children dealing with cancer.
True, Robin Williams was a comedian and an actor. If you choose to dismiss his entire life’s work because you deem those professions unworthy of your respect, then please, do just that. But you’ll fail to see how Williams impacted millions of people on the stage, on the screen, and behind the scenes, as well. He made people laugh, think, and cry. He used his power of celebrity to help people throughout the world. He made us try to forget–for a moment–about the daily grind of life.
Yes, he’s someone I’ll never be ashamed to say I admired.
“Pat Political Point” on Robin Williams. From the 8/17/14 edition of WSGW’s “First Day.”