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Robin Williams and the Happiness Industry

Greg Palast 

I  can’t help feeling that Robin Williams was a victim of his industry: the happiness industry.

Williams was typecast for those parts with manic, unstoppable joy.  Listen up, Aladdin! Williams’ genie said, You’re not suffering from poverty – what you need is a positive attitude!  You know, put on a happy face! Let a smile be your umbrella!  

Our culture despises and fears unhappiness. We pathologize unhappiness; we conflate it with a disease, “depression.” And it’s a disease we insist you can cure – so you don’t spread your unhappiness germs to the rest of us.  We stigmatize those who are unhappy, like we stigmatize those who are overweight:  If you’re fat, you just don’t have any self-control. If you’re unhappy, it’s your personal failure to just buck up.

We laud the congenitally happy, like Ronald Reagan, the chipper Gipper, the Grinning Grandpa, who could unleash his death squads and smile all the while.

We are a nation of salesman, commercially optimistic. We don’t like downers; we don’t like people who spoil the party.

And so we push those who find themselves unhappy to medicate themselves – avoid The Deep, get out of the blues and join the Disney.  Williams chose booze, pills and …more