Patching Up Our Priorities

Sara Dyer

We’ve known him as the transvestite nanny in Mrs. Doubtfire, a goofball doctor in Patch Adams and the Pan in Hook. Although he’s taken the bull by the horns in profound movies like Good Will Hunting and Dead Poets Society, all I can personally think of when I picture Robin Williams is Jack, the little boy in a grown up body from the mid 90s. So, imagine my surprise when I hear that he’s enrolled himself in rehab at Newberg, Oregon’s Hazeldon Springbook Clinic. In August ’06, 55-year-old Williams took it upon himself, after having been dry for 20 years, to own up to his recurrent alcoholism. Movies.msn.com quotes him as saying, “If you’re violating your standards faster than you can lower them, time to go away.” And I’d like to take this space to applaud Robin Williams-not for his alcoholism, for sure, but for the courage it takes to confront a problem and deal with it.

At the same time, how many middle-aged moms have lost faith in Robin Williams because he’s revealed that (gasp) celebrities are human? Not that we didn’t know that before: Anna Nicole Smith, Britney Spears, Jude Law. Oddly enough, Robin Williams did in fact marry his nanny. But, back to the matter at hand, celebrities, your neighbor, yourself, myself: we all have flaws. So what’s with our trend of exempting celebrities from the same criteria as ourselves? There’s a strange phenomenon in which we often see celebrities, especially those like Robin Williams, as larger-than-life or as the same person as the characters they play. It’s unfair to characterize celebrities as perfect by their status or by the roles they’ve played. Celebrities are human beings, subject to the same temptations that we all are. However, what this discussion leads to is far more important: why the hell are we so obsessed with celebrities and their personal lives anyway?

What happened to War and Peace or Tender is the Night on our coffee tables? Why is it only People, US Weekly, Star? Why do we know more about Ashley Simpson’s complete facial reconstruction than we know about the genocide in Darfur? In reality, I could not care less about Robin William’s alcoholism. Sadly, celebrity issues seem to have taken the front seat to any other issues in politics, economics, etc. I’ll be the first to admit that I myself wonder where Johnny Depp’s hideaway home in France is and if Jessica Simpson and Dane Cook are getting intimate, but it does not consume my mind. So good for Robin Williams and his initiative to patch up his life, but maybe we should take the time to patch up our priorities.