In the last 48 hours, we lost some major Hollywood juggernauts. Throughout the course of my life many celebrities have died, but as I get older the faces on the screen seem to get progressively more familiar. Some have felt like great personal losses, more and more often, this seems to be the case. When talking about the death of Robin Williams with my father, he did not seem to understand why headlines stated that the “entire nation was mourning the loss.” It got me thinking about why the death of certain Hollywood star has such an affect on me personally, but also the country as a whole.
I am going to talk briefly about science. Now, if you know me you are probably aware that science is in fact the subject I know the absolute least about; however, here is what I understand about stars. When a star dies, they continue to produce light. The heat does not dissipate right away and therefore there is still light being produced. Also, from Earth, we continue to see the light that no longer exists because it takes time for the light to travel from the star to the Earth. This is not dissimilar to the stars of our world. When a star dies, the effect they have had on many of us remains. Future generations may still be affected by a star whose light is still being seen despite the fact that they are no longer living here with us.
My father may be a little too old, or his tastes in film and television lean toward whatever it is that he thinks qualifies as film and ESPN, to have fully appreciated all that Robin Williams has meant to so many people. As a child of the 90s I was profoundly impacted by so much of his work, but the film Hook in a way that people who were grown-up by that point cannot fully grasp, and children who grew up in the land of technology (subtext: lack imagination due to overexposure to instant gratification) will never fully understand. It is a film about a man, who has become so obsessed with work and the struggles of adulthood that he has lost all sense of childlike wonder. He has totally and completely forgotten that he was Peter Pan, the boy who wouldn’t grow up. The film stresses the importance of imagination and fun. An idea that I still cling to as I continue to resist adulthood. I can continue to list films and the impact they have had on me, but I don’t feel like anyone needs me to do that. My point is, not everyone understands why these people, this man who I have never met, could have affected me so much that I would mourn the loss of a complete stranger.
Think of how many hours you have spent with some of these people. I have spent more time with certain actors via the television than members of my own family. As someone who has wanted to work in the film industry for her entire life, the impact some actors, screen writers, directors, etc. have had on me has certainly been greater than many people I have met in real life. A vast majority of the people who have had major influences on my life are people that I have never actually met. The thing that I find most upsetting is that I have often dreamed of a day when I may finally meet them and talk to them, (in a perfect world work with them), but at the very least thank them. Thank them for teaching me the importance of an imagination in a world that seems hell-bent on taking away the need for one. Thank them for teaching me to go for what I want in life despite the fact the world will try everything in its power to keep me from it. Thank him for teaching me that laughter is the most important thing in the entire world and it does not have to come from a mean or spiteful place. That opportunity is now gone. And I mourn the loss.
In the last 48 hours, many of us have lost a hero. For anyone who does not feel the great and profound loss of this, I honestly feel sorry for you. I am sorry that you have missed out on all that this man has given us over the last several decades. I am sorry that you have missed out on the countless hours of laughter, but also on the amazing life lessons found in all of his work. I am sorry that you grew up and left behind all of your childlike wonder. But, as I have learned, it is never to late to find it once again. This star may have died, but his light remains.
Oh Captain! My Captain!