Posts Tagged Fame

Oh No

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I am truly gutted about the news of Robin Williams’ death.

Williams was found today at his home in Tiburon, CA  and it’s been reported that he committed suicide due to asphyxia – i.e. from probably hanging himself. The Marin County Sheriff’s Department released this statement:

On August 11, 2014, at approximately 11:55 am, Marin CountyCommunications received a 9-1-1 telephone call reporting a male adult had been located unconscious and not breathing inside his residence in unincorporated Tiburon, CA. The Sheriff’s Office, as well as the Tiburon Fire Department and Southern Marin Fire Protection District were dispatched to the incident with emergency personnelarriving on scene at 12:00 pm. The male subject, pronounced deceased at 12:02 pm has been identified as Robin McLaurinWilliams, a 63 year old resident of unincorporated Tiburon, CA.

An investigation into the cause, manner, and circumstances of the death is currently underway by the Investigations and Coroner Divisions of the Sheriff’s Office. Preliminary information developed during the investigation indicates Mr. Williams was last seen alive at his residence, where he resides with his wife, at approximately 10:00 pm on August 10, 2014. Mr. Williams was located this morning shortly before the 9-1-1 call was placed to Marin CountyCommunications.

Robin’s rep also released a statement:

Robin Williams passed away this morning. He has been battling severe depression of late. This is a tragic and sudden loss. The family respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time.”

I am sad beyond belief by this. Not only for him and that he was in such a dark place that he felt the only way out was taking his own life, but also for his family who has to find a way to get through life in the wake of this devastation.

If you need any further evidence that depression is a powerful, soul sucking lying sack of shit disease, look no further than the tragic death of Robin Williams, a man that dedicated his life to making other people happy, yet couldn’t find a way out of the darkness himself.

The insediousness of depression just scares the hell out of me. It torments even the most seemingly happiest of people. Such an indiscriminate, hideous disease.

For some reason, all I can think about right now is this line he said in Dead Poet’s Society, which, looking back, seems prophetic (or maybe not. Death is a certainty, after all. It, however, does take a lot of insight to recognize that about life: “Carpe Diem. Seize the day. Make your lives extraordinary[…] because believe it or not, each and everyone of us in this room is one day going to stop breathing, turn cold and die.”

What a short life we all live.

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Goodbye Harold Ramis

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If you, like me, grew up in the 80s and woke up yesterday morning to the sad news that Harold Ramis had passed away, then you probably felt like a huge chunk of your childhood just broke off and floated away.

It feels as though this has been happening quite a lot lately, seeing many legends and pop culture icons from my childhood get old and die like John Hughes, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Roger Ebert, and now Harold Ramis, the wonderfully talented writer, actor and creator of so much comedy awesomeness who passed away yesterday at the young age of 69.

His movies and the projects he was involved in, from  “Groundhog Day,” “Ghostbusters,” “Animal House”, “Caddyshack”, “Stripes”, “National Lampoons Vacation” and “Meatballs” – just to name a few –  are a staple of the great 80s classics and their comedic genius timeless and unprecedented.

Unlike the landscape that prevails in Hollywood today, Ramis was part of the small breed of film makers who was in it for the craft of acting and story-telling instead of for fame and wealth and shameless self-aggrandizement.

A lot of people these days just want to be “in the entertainment industry” for the easy money, the easy women, or the easy fame to the point of hiring PR firms to follow them around when they do “private stuff” so they can be “candidly” photographed for a page in some tabloid, increasing their exposure.

I personally know this actor from one of the Star Trek shows who is, literally, begging people on his Facebook page to follow him on Facebook and Twitter because hiring someone who has a lot of followers on social networks can help the production he will be working on generate more money. His talents appear secondary; this kid has to work on amassing a sizable following first before he is called in for casting.

Aspiring and current entertainers look at the likes of the Kuntrashians who invite the cameras, literally, up their vaginas, and trash like Snooki  – parasitic entities that merely exist to increase ratings and profitability while  racking up millions of dollars for being walking advertisements for cheap products and famous for being famous, as opposed to famous because they are creating something of value, and these newbies want a piece of that famewhoring pie.

But it is not just these bitches, look at Oscar nominated pukes like Jonah Hill whose douchebaggy assholishenss has increased in proportion to his fame and Oscar nominations to the point where he thinks he is even too good to shake hands with common folks.

Harold Ramis, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, John Belushi, Dan Akroyd, John Candy etc. and the film makers they worked with were a different breed. They weren’t fame-whoring and could tell jokes and make you laugh and sympathize with the underdog and question authority without being Judd Apatow vulgar. That is rare and I am sad to see Ramis, who was such an integral part of that, go.

I am sad not only because he was way too young and died too soon and appears to have been a genuinely nice guy, but because in a way his departure signifies a change within those of us who grew up with his movies and pop culture presence and for whom deaths like his signify the painful realization of the days of youth gone by.

Harold Ramis once said about his work:

Well, for me, it’s the relationship between comedy and life – that’s the edge I live on, and maybe it’s my protection against looking at the tragedy of it all. It’s seeing life in balance. Comedy and tragedy co-exist. You can’t have one without the other. I’m of the school that anything can be funny, if seen from a comedic point of view.”

Indeed. What tragic and short lives we all live.

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Review: Roseanne: The Ninth Season

Roseanne is one of my favorite TV sitcoms of all time, mainly because it wasn’t stylized but was more of a slice-of-life type of show with normal people rather than caricatures. Roseanne Barr is an inspiration to me in terms of comedic talent and timing and her quite unconventional, into your face type of humor. In short, she is real and I liked that.

However, I found this season more than demoralizing as most everyone acts out of character and their actions are so absurd and far fetched – bordering at unbelievable. There were times I seriously thought this was another show. It is as if the characters had no self awareness as to who they are and their pasts (continuity) and as if their personalities were rewritten to be new people. For example, the Dan we met in all the previous eight seasons would never have cheated on Roseanne. He was just not the type. If he _did_ cheat on her because he now all of a sudden had the riches to be able to afford such indiscretions, it still would be out of character for him because – again – the Dan we met is not someone who’d cheat on his wife. So no matter how you twist and turn it, this just doesnt make sense.

And then seeing Darlene go from being a free spirited, ambitious and somewhat jaded artist – who was the first Connor to go to college and out of Lanford – suddenly act all homely, sweet, calm and tender and decide to lead the kind of life her mother essentially had (and which she loathed), also seems out of place. In the previous season she got a job for a pretty decent salary in a publishing house, and now we are to believe that she gave all that up to be a mommy? That is so out of character. By the ninth season she even moves in with her parents no questions asked and apparently forgets everything about her ambitions in order to become what….a good housewife? Darlene?

Jackie’s role is reduced to that of merely ornamental. She used to be so funny and quirky and involved from the beginning on and starting around season 8, her role was reduced to one walking around with a baby in her arm, running into a room screaming something and then leaving again. Throughout the series, Jackie’s presence in Roseanne’s life had a profound meaning; you knew these women were really each others’ best friends and the extent to which Jackie’s presence was essential for Roseanne and her family was also very well worked out. All that is lost starting season 8 and especially in this season and the two barely ever have any meaningful exchange anymore.

I think frankly, a lot of it might have to do with Roseanne’s character (or in fact Roseanne Barr herself) who has – since season 6 – increasingly turned into just an annoying and unfunny figure. She is mean, vile, and unpleasant to be around. While in the first 5 or 6 seasons, there was a charm to her character and its causticity, because she was genuine and real, in Seasons 7 and 8 and now 9, there is a bitter aftertaste in your mouth every time she is in a scene and says something. I mean she never has anything intelligent to say, she never listens to anyone and she talks shit ALL THE TIME. She also treats everyone like crap and while before that was actually cute, it is very annoying and sickening now.

I think it has to do with the fact that Roseanne Barr herself, while this season was being shot, was having the hyper kind of life with all the success going in over her head, and plastic surgery (which made her look like a freak if you ask me) and divorcing her second husband to marry her bodyguard. She was becoming arrogant due to the previous successes of the show and really no longer was the blue collar down to Earth person we got to know in the beginning. To make matters worse, she was also given more creative control and wrote some of the episodes – which in turn would explain their sheer insanity.

It is interesting to observe the kind of evolution TV shows go through as they move along in years.

1) At first they start off very down to earth and innocent and actually as pretty original. They are feel-good shows, cozy, fun, simple.

3) Then, as the show takes off in both ratings and reviews as well as with respect to the fame and popularity of its tars, something happens. The writers become lazy or are replaced quickly (thus the old formula is lost as everyone thinks they need to hire new folks to write exotic and outrageous scripts). The dynamic of the show changes accordingly. Now all cast members are stars and important, and the show reflects that and in a way moves away from the simple beginnings. As the private lives of the stars change, so do their characters. There is often a spill-over effect into the show from behind the camera glamour. Roseanne Barr herself did undergo a huge transformation, going from a simple, blue collar unremarkable woman to a Hollywood star winning numerous awards and leading an exotic, fancy lifestyle. Such dramatic changes will not go unnoticed in the show.

3) Finally, the show ends on some absurd or far-fetched note, often something dramatic and sappy; a 180 degree turn from how it started out. In this last segment, the characters are often unrecognizable and rarely resemble the people we saw in the first few seasons. to the point where you wish you’d never seen this.

This is exactly what happened to Roseanne beginning with Season 7. They completely messed up the show by turning 180 degrees and making it into some kind of an alive version of Roseanne Barr’s insanity. The show started off fresh, down to earth, warm and kind but it just ended with Roseanne’s obvious insanity and neurosis’ from some kind of a midlife crisis she had and too much fame. Winning the lottery, Dan getting a heart attack, cheating on her, dying, Beverly a lesbian at 70 – and then what was up with all those superfluous plot lines involving Leon and boyfriend. Come on. They should have stopped after the 7th season. This ending was just a depressing downward spiral unworthy of the spirit of the show.

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