Monday, August 11, 2014

CNN's Don Lemon covers apparent suicide of actor Robin Williams; also violence after police shooting of unarmed teen near St. Louis

CNN’s News Hour with Don Lemon spent most of the hour tonight covering the passing of comedy actor Robin Williams, 63, in in home Monday morning, where he was found unconscious and could not be revived.

Williams was said to have suffered from depression that could have been brought on by aortic valve replacement (UK story from 2009).  Open heart surgery (more often coronary bypass surgery, where they “crack you open like a lobster” as Regis Philbin said one time) often leads to depression. He also abused drugs and alcohol, as in this Guardian story.
Much of the CNN broadcast dealt with the idea that our society treats these items as shameful when they are treatable brain diseases.

Williams sometimes made jokes about alcoholism.

The news report showed excerpts from “Mrs. Doubtfire” (where her breasts burn in a kitchen fire), and “Good Will Hunting”, where he, as a therapist, counsels Matt Damon's genius character on being able to love someone more than himself.  A Northwest Airlines flight magazine, on a 1999 flight I took from Minneapolis to Amsterdam, talked about the makeup for the cross-dressing movie, where “they” repeatedly shaved him. Another favorite was “The Birdcage” which touched on gays in the military. Other important films included "Dead Poets Society", "Good Morning Vietnam" and "The World According to Garp".  Williams would indulge children when helping them, as with Make-a-wish-foundation performances. 

CNN was to follow with a half-hour special "The Life of Robin Williams".  ABC will also air a 20-20 special "The Life and Death of Robin Williams" Tuesday night (link).

Subsequent reports on Tuesday indicate that Robin Williams had hanged himself. 
The news hour also covered the shooting by police of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by police in Ferguson, MO, north of downtown St. Louis.  Looting and violence have followed, as covered in this CNN story. Comparisons are made to Trayvon Martin.  The shooting seems very hard to explain based on current evidence.


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