Published in Catalogue, 2015
Following Robin Williams’ sudden and tragic suicide in August of this year, everyone took to social media to express their grief and celebrate his life and work. One quote persistently surfaced on social media in the weeks following his death: “You’re only given one little spark of madness, you mustn’t lose it”.
It confused me that people were sharing this quote in the wake of his suicide; arguably the “madness” that drove his frenetic, energetic public persona was the same “madness” that consumed him, and caused the actor to take his own life. I began examining how mental illness is depicted in popular culture, and whether these depictions are useful or damaging.