In remembrance of Gary Coleman, many FB and Twitter statuses were updated to “Whatchu talkin’ ’bout, Willis?” I felt a sense of relief that if I died today, I wouldn’t have to be remembered by any of the stupid things I said as a kid. I wonder if Gary Coleman would have wanted the same thing. Now, clearly I wasn’t paid $100K a week to say those stupid things so maybe that changes the game somewhat. I just said all my stupid shit for free…and perhaps that’s why no one can remember what I said last week, let alone 30 years ago.
Gary Coleman was 42 years old when he died. At death, just over 25 years had passed since his last day on the set of Diff’rent Strokes. But he spent the rest of his life trying to live down his celebrity and in some instances notoriety.
We remember, we were there. All of the incidents in the news: his arrests, his challenges, his shortcomings. We should be grateful that our own mistakes don’t require press conferences to announce to the world. (Although, why on earth, there’s no press conference now baffles me. I mean is no one investigating that wife? Wasn’t she arrested last year for domestic violence?…but perhaps that’s someone else’s battle) Perhaps celebrity lives are harder than we all might think. All people are terribly flawed, in this sense we are truly equal. But celebrity can make folks get blind to their flaws. Ever notice how these flawless people with fairy tale lives can’t keep a relationship for shit? And how they move effortlessly from one failed relationship to another? Each new relationship bringing a brand new soul mate for the same broken soul? How quickly they blow through their good fortune? Look at how they medicate with drugs and alcohol…and each other. Compared to you and me, Gary’s life was unusual but compared to other celebrities? He could be a role model.
In spite of the mainstream media’s constant resuscitation of Arnold Jackson, Gary Coleman had long since moved on with his life. He went to on to other roles and guest appearances, won product endorsements, secured a role as a political analyst on a comedy network, successfully sued his adoptive parents and the staff that mismanaged his trust fund, worked as a security guard, he ran for governor of California, he eventually got married. He was a gifted comedian who appreciated a good joke. He was known by others to have a positive attitude, an infectious laugh, a warm spirit and a big heart…well, except for that broad he clocked at the mall. Her take might be slightly different.
So, R.I.P Gary Coleman. I hope somewhere in your life you found happiness and peace. I hope that you knew love. I hope you found someone to trust. I hope you had some reprieve from the pain in your body and in your heart. Last but not least, I hope you had one or two good laughs at Todd Bridges’ expense. I know it’s gotten ME through some tough times.