Note: this post was written before news of Robin Williams' death broke. The same perspective that lends itself to a jokey essay about good-looking actors also functions to remind us why Williams' death feels so strange. For decades, Williams was a ubiquitous feature of the pop culture landscape. We'll miss him.
As Jared and I watched the first episode of The Good Wife, we realized that we recognized, but did not know the name of, this guy.
We had to look him up on IMDB to figure it out, but of course the moment we did it all came flooding back: Josh Charles (who plays Will Gardner) played Knox Overstreet in Dead Poets Society.
Which came out in 1989.
Cue instant mid-life crisis.
Dead Poets Society was a film I really liked twenty years ago. Here’s why: I was, at fifteen, a poetry-reading weirdo who felt deeply misunderstood and undervalued. And Dead Poets Society features sensitive, poetry-reading souls (in the 16-18 age range) who feel misunderstood and undervalued. It also features some really good looking guys.
What struck me as I stared at Josh Charles’ IMDB profile is that I’ve now got a very privileged, very weird perspective on pop culture. I haven’t just grown up with pop culture – pop culture has grown up with me. I’ve got a perspective on it now – thanks to twenty years of hearty consumption of it – that I never had before. And perspective is a double-edged sword.