Some dope at “The Academy [of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences]” (better known as “the place that gives people Oscars) reacted in a terribly irresponsible way to Robin Williams’ suicide and well meaning people on social media are spreading it. You shouldn’t.
In a tweet by the official @TheAcademy Twitter account a screenshot from Disney’s Aladdin of the Genie and title character hugging is followed by the text “Genie, you’re free”…. WTF.
There aren’t many things more irresponsible than a leading figure in the creative community, glorifying killing yourself as being freedom.
Death is not “freedom”. It is death. It’s the end. And killing yourself because you are sad is not setting yourself “free” of anything – you are merely multiplying and transferring your sadness onto others so you don’t have to deal with it anymore. It’s taking a giant water balloon of sadness and saying “here. You deal with this instead” and popping it over all who knew you – with those closest to you getting the most drenched but its splash reaching far and wide, wetting many beyond that circle and at least spritzing those who just knew of you.
Aside from the whole “do not murder” thing that the 3 major world religions find being a pretty big deal, they probably are against suicide because of this pain-spread transference inherent in the act.
This image posted by Disney on their official Facebook page shows the correct way of making this sentiment (or just an appropriate sentiment in general):
Subtle, non-offensive, morally sound, minimalist imagery presenting an ambiguous but respectful sentiment. Was that so hard?
Death isn’t freedom. Not even freedom from pain. It is an end to pain of the deceased but not a “freeing” of them as the word has an inherent implication of choice and opportunity which by definition requires life. The difference is significant.
Equating suicide with freedom is unAmerican. The famous Patrick Henry quote is “Give me Liberty OR give me Death”. Not “Give me Liberty *by* giving me Death”. Because death is not a liberation.
If you busted a laboratory doing cruel experiments on chimps and you put an end to it and sign up for the years of rehabilitation of those animals, you are “freeing” them. If you just go in and kill all the chimps, all you’ve done is kill a bunch of chimps. You haven’t freed anything. You ended pain by ending life.
But with this tweet, the Academy committed a crime far worse than merely glorifying suicide or perpetuating bad moral philosophy: it didn’t even get the picture right…
The screenshot posted in the tweet is not from the Genie being freed. A good hint of this fact to this possibility to someone less familiar with the film would be those big gold wrist bands, cuffing him to the servitude and rules of the lamp and its master. Those aint bracelets, dawg (even though I originally thought they were when I saw the movie). They’re slave clasps. It’s kindov a major point int he movie when they come off (and go on another character, shortly before coming off Genie). You’d think some kind of Academy of Motion Pictures (and Sciences!) would maybe know that…
The scene isn’t even close to the Genies (spoiler alert) eventual freeing. It is from when Genie saves Aladdins life at the end of the 2nd act and they embrace as friends (even though Genie cheated the wish rules in his – not Aladdins favor – in effect billing him for the rescue as it was counted as a used wish when no wish was made).
But like I said: the choice of that quote, correct scene or not, is what is inappropriate. The proper sentiment to deliver would have been the line Aladdin delivers at the end, “Genie…I’m…gonna.. miss. you.” in which Genie replies “me too, Al…” and the two hug – Aladdin bittersweetly and Genie, teary eyed and frowning at this necessary departure. This is the first time in the movie both are truly “free” (the Genie from the servitude of the lamp and Aladdin from the bondage of his lies stemming from the issues of inadequacy that were holding him back all this time), so that message could have been positively delivered in an “up for interpretation” kind of way.
When a person dies, yes, it means they aren’t suffering anymore but it also means they aren’t happy anymore. It means they will never hurt again but it also means they will never smile, laugh, love or feel anything positive ever again. They are gone, not liberated. They aren’t anything anymore. Not in this world. They exist only in the memories of the living and that’s about it. I know it is comforting to think someone who killed themselves is somehow better off but they aren’t. There’s no religious, secular, or scientific basis to think otherwise. Which i’m not pointing out to make you sad – I’m pointing out to not romanticize killing yourself to be “free” of sadness.
Don’t do it. It ain’t freedom. Hollywood doesn’t know WTF it’s talking about.