An ugly glimpse at the gutter

It’s been a year since Robin Williams died, an event which highlighted that even someone who brings joy to millions can suffer from depression. Although it pales into insignificance next to the heartbreak his family must have experienced, it was a death which hit his fans hard as well.

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For many people, including myself, Robin Williams was a massive part of my childhood and films like Aladdin, Mrs Doubtfire, Jack and Jumanji meant a lot to us. As I grew up more films joined the list (Good Morning Vietnam, Good Will Hunting and The Birdcage), and off screen he always seemed like a good dude.
At 30 celebrity deaths have lost their ability to truly upset me. A few have been shocks, and in all cases I feel sympathy for the families, but none have wrecked me. When my Mum was younger she cried over the death of her rock idol, Marc Bolan, which unfortunately fell on her birthday.

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For me, Williams’ death is the closest I’ve come. The circumstances, the connection with my youth, the realisation that he had clearly been suffering for quite some time, all of it was upsetting. I wasn’t alone in this, and every Williams movie we’ve watched since has upset MWF.
A year has passed and it’s still hard to think that such a talented, successful and well loved person could be brought so low. But that’s the thing with depression, it doesn’t give a damn who you are, it’s a remorseless, destructive disease that chips away at who you are and removes all hope from your life.
Sorry, that was rather bleak.
What made me want to write this blog was anger. Pure anger.
At work I saw a trashy magazine which had splashed across its cover a story about Williams’ suicide note being revealed.
I looked at this rag and seethed. This is not news, this is gutter journalism at its very worse. Who goes digging for something like that? The last words left by a man suffering from depression, clearly meant for his loved ones.
It’s an intensely personal thing and one that the rest of the world has no business knowing.
Even by the low, low standards of celebrity journalism this is shameful.
I’ve wanted to be a journalist since my early teems (part of the reason I started blogging), but I can’t imagine ever sitting there and typing out what someone left as a suicide note, especially to put it forward as entertainment. How can you justify that? How can you look at yourself in the mirror after that?
You’re not exposing corruption or bringing wrongdoers to justice, you’re just trading on people’s morbid curiosity and invading someone’s privacy. Worse, you’re dredging up a family’s pain and grief, and opening that up to the world.
And that’s not cool.
Why don’t these people exercise a bit of compassion? A little bit of decency and respect for another human being and their privacy. Just pause for a second and wonder how they’d feel if it was their loved one who’s personal life was being shared with everyone.
Robin Williams deserves to be treated with respect, and who we should remember for his talent and achievements. I don’t know why anyone would want to read a stranger’s suicide note, or buy the kind of shameless mag that would run it.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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