Art by Rodney Pike
The world has lost a legend responsible for millions of laughs, smiles, and a whole lot of love.
Yesterday morning, Robin Williams sadly took his own life at the age of 63, leaving his loved ones and countless fans confused, distraught, and without a comedic anchor.
Like many phenomenal artists, Williams battled substance-related issues throughout his illustrious career–but he did so quietly. Despite his demons, Williams’ disposition and air of positivity shined through on stage: for audiences all over the world, Williams was a beacon of light.
And from cannabis lovers to children of the 80s–and now both–Robin Williams was and always will be a revelation. From his lighthearted roles in Hook and Mrs. Doubtfire to his more serious turns in Dead Poet Society and Good Will Hunting, Williams roamed the stage with a demeanor that simply suggested, in the end, that everything will be all right.
On stage, Williams was fearless, willing to take on roles and cross gender boundaries before Modern Family made it fashionable to do so. Hell, who else could’ve so masterfully taken a turn at a gay Cabaret owner in Bird Cage (1996) and, in that day-and-age, make being different seem so normal and utterly ironic?
That same kind of fearlessness has shown throughout the marijuana movement’s fight to end prohibition. Williams and activists (like a Jack Herer) share an ability to–nay, the desire to–break societal norms, challenge stereotypes and force people to accept the once unusual as the modern norm.
Robin Williams made it feel right to act as society traditionally labels as “wrong.” And that desire to change perception is the modern marijuana ethos, an ethos that Williams clearly exemplified.
However, many tend to forget that Robin Williams’ fearlessness and career began on a different stage: as a stand-up comedian in the early 70s. And while on that stage, Williams never shied away from discussing taboo topics, like cannabis (and other substances).
Naturally, marijuana made continually made its way to the forefront of Williams’ riffs. This one in particular is an all too true aphorism that sheds light on the real harmful nature of cannabis:
“If they legalize it they are going to have to regulate it and put a warning on a box of joints. It’s gonna have to say: The Surgeon General has determined this will make your music awesome…even Yanni. And if you thought you enjoyed cartoons before!”
Whether or not Williams was a stoner was and is irrelevant. Marijuana use aside, Williams was an activist, and one that used humor to exemplify the absurd nature of prohibition. During one his other bits, Williams added this whip:
“When we were growing up, we knew the side effects of marijuana: laughter and Frosted Flakes”
That same sense of humor is omnipresent in the modern marijuana movement: despite the hurdles of prohibition, we pair laughter with medicine. And the laughter Williams provided was often the best form of medicine.
Last night, it was with a heavy heart that I turned on Dead Poets Society and watched a young, spry Robin Williams, with that familiar glint in his eyes, implore his students to Carpe Diem, Seize the Day.
Because, like the poets of the past, “we are food for worms, lads.”
But before we become food for worms, however, I have zero doubt that Robin Williams would want us all to fight for one thing we believe in and do one thing great in our lives. For me, that means help making marijuana legal–and doing so with a smile on my face.
Here are those aforementioned comedy bits on cannabis:
This one takes a nice jive at alcohol use:[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nIWB-Neyj-c]
RIP Robin Williams. You may be gone, but your presence will live on forever.