Tuesday, August 12, 2014

No Man Is An Island

I never wanted to be fake, to be a poser, to put on different masks for different crowds. I never said I loved the Back Street Boys because I only had one album and hadn't ever mailed in to join the fan club. Months after having listened to Jason Mraz religiously I still didn't claim he was my favorite artist. To me, to declare something/someone as your favorite would negate knowing more about them/it than the average person on the street. I found a poster for sale on Mraz's website and wanted it. But I stopped my 7th grade self from running to dad asking him to order it for me. 

I didn't know enough about him yet. I wasn't really a fan of Jason Mraz. Not yet.

And that's why I look like an uber fan, being able to tell you where he's from, how he got into the music business, what this song was written about, his brother's name, etc. Because according to the unspoken rule I'd always lived by, I couldn't truthfully declare myself a fan until I knew as much as possible. So while my improv troupe pokes fun at my "obsession," I reside with the knowledge that I'm a true, sincere fan.

Which is why mourning posts on Facebook bother me. I understand the reasoning behind it; Robin Williams was indeed an excellent man, bringing characters to life in the greatest way possible. But I have a hard time believing the 18 year old on my newsfeed with keep true to her declaration that he will "always be one of [her] favorite actors." It's easy to forget, especially in this modern world of high speed internet and smart phones. Remember all the hub-bub about Michael Jackson's death? Remember how the world was shaken, how an incredible artist was gone too soon, how everyone started listening to his music and covering his songs and releasing full magazines containing every article they'd ever published of him.

Remember when his five year death anniversary happened?

You don't?

I didn't either. Until I was in line at the Walmart and noticed a reprint of the MJ-only People's Magazine.

And then I thought "That's right. It's June. That's right, he's been gone a few years now."

I took art classes in junior high, convinced I'd become the world's best artist. Newsflash, I'm not. But on several instances in those classes we would study world renowned artists, and in most occasions we'd watch a docudrama about their lives, the moral of every story being sometimes though the work you produce is incredible, people won't realize it until you're gone.

This of course being time passes after their death and someone realizes the quality of the work and exposes it to the world and then they become a classic that is lauded for their innovation and creativity and studied in art classes through the ages. 

Technology is doing the opposite now.

Robin Williams was found dead, and Facebook, like it did five years ago, exploded with well-wishing mourning statements from people touched by his work. I'm not being cynical, I assure you. Just two weeks ago I watched Jumanji and was struck with the reminder of how much I appreciated Robin Williams and his role in that movie, among others. But what I am saying is our attention spans are fleeting. I struggle to sit down with a book nowadays because I'm so used to the quick, easy read of mindless internet articles. I've grown accustomed to my two second attention span. And I think the rest of us have as well. 

Which is why the most fitting way to remember someone is post about it, maybe share a video it took us a minute to find on YouTube, and forget. 

And five years from now you'll be at a Walmart, and Robin Williams will be on the cover of a magazine near the bottom of the rack, pushed to the bottom by the latest Kardashian scandal, and you'll think "Oh yes. I remember when he died. It's been a while, I guess."


So I'm not declaring this death has wrecked me to my core, I'm sad, definitely. How could you not be? Will I buy all of his movies and think about him every day? No. I'll probably invest in Dead Poets Society because I frankly haven't seen that yet, and if his death is similar in anyway to Michael Jackson's it'll yeild a surplus of his movies suddenly stocking shelves so it shouldn't be hard to find. Robin Williams won't live on as the man who changed my life, who brought me comedy and taught me to laugh. But I'll be struck with appreciation each time I flick through TV channels and pause as Hook comes back from commercial break, I'll smile as my kids watch Aladdin in the other room, and I'll remember him -like I always have- when there's a surplus of mosquitoes or a news story about stampedes. I'll admire his opportunities and the fact that he was able and willing to share them with us; that he had a leg up on the artists of yore in that his legacy was in circulation before he was ever gone. 

But I'm not going to say I'm his biggest fan. 

It's not about me.