He was a voice. He was a heart. He was a mind.
He was a singular man, yet in himself, a stellar ensemble cast of impressions and original characters. A man who possessed an unparalleled capability for uplifting the emotions of others, yet struggled so much with his own. He made us laugh, he made us cry, and most importantly to me, he was a man that understood the comedic value of pretending to be a woman to get back at an ex. He was Robin Williams, and he was loved.
Yesterday’s news of Williams’ tragic death in an apparent suicide reverberated through social media like a digital shockwave that paused the playback on every gif on every clickbait listicle. Nineties kids, like myself, were sent into an emotional tailspin. Not only was one of our heroes dead, but also a part of our childhood.
But, it’s time as nineties kids to do what we do best: it’s time to remember the nineties. It’s time to remember Robin Williams.
It’s time to remember the first time we heard him, as the voice of Aladdin, tell princess Jasmine, “It’s a whole different world.”
It’s time to remember when we watched as Williams, as the voice of Iago, helped Simba learn how to roar and avenge his father’s death.
It’s time to remember a much younger Williams clad in Army drabs (in a role that we were most likely introduced to by our parents) hop on a radio for which his character was named and belt out “Good Morning, Vietnam!” in the iconic MASH.
It’s time to remember the 90s. It’s time to remember Robin Williams’s profound impact on the nineties, and how much he meant to us as young people. Jungle To Jungle, The Mask, The Emperor’s New Groove. It’s time to remember these films and thank Williams for the heartwarming (and funny!) childhood that he helped cultivate.
And as we grew out of cartoons and began navigating our early teens, our emotions growing more complex and our understanding of the world taking shape in its nascent stages, Williams was there.
Williams was there as the football coach in Dead Poet’s society, brought in to whip a scrappy team into shape and show them that it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s how you play the game.
Williams was there, in an incredibly complex role, as the evil Dean of Harvard in Good Will Hunting, who eventually takes a liking to Matt Damon’s character despite his blue collar accent and the fact that he’s poor.
“You’re good at Math, Will,” will always bring a tear to my eye.
And who can forget his role in the heartbreaking Patch Adams, in which he plays a clown that has lied his way into a position as a chief surgeon at a children’s hospital. We watch as failed surgery after failed surgery lands Williams in hot water – but through perseverance, and the power of humor – the hospital agrees to let him continue to operate on young minds.
And it wasn’t just the minds of those fictional young children he was operating on, it was the minds of an entire generation. It was the minds of the 90s. It was us – the millennials – the 90s rememberers.
From the generation that never forgets, from a true nineties kid, rest in peace Robin Williams.