On January 23rd, 2014, the internet community lost one of its brightest stars, when Justin “JewWario” Carmical tragically took his own life. I was lucky enough to meet Justin last year at Con Bravo in Hamilton, and even from that brief interaction, I was struck by how genuinely warm and caring he was to everyone around him. He took time to speak with every fan, and had a smile and a joke for all of them. I didn’t know Justin Carmical, and it would be disingenuous for me to try to eulogize him, but I wanted to take this moment to say a few things about how he and his peers have affected my life.
To those who know me, it’s no secret that I’ve been struggling with depression for the majority of my life. I’ve gone through some very dark and scary times that I’m lucky to have made it past, and I can only cope with things by living life day by day. Because of all of that, I place extra value in the things in life that can lift my spirits, and maybe make me laugh a bit. During some of my hardest times, I became a huge fan of original online series like the Angry Video Game Nerd, the Cinema Snob, the folks at Channel Awesome, the Game Grumps, and the Spoony Experiment, to name just a few. Not only were these very talented creators capable of making me laugh when I needed to the most, their dedication and enthusiasm regarding their individual niches within the world of pop culture struck a chord with me – here we have these men and women who are willing to put themselves out there, and proudly embrace their passions, no matter how geeky. I’ve spent a lifetime feeling apologetic and self-conscious for being a wrestling fan, a comic book fan, a gamer, so that means something special to me.
Needless to say, these creators tend to put a lot of themselves into their work, even those that are playing characters or exaggerated versions of themselves. As such, there have been times when I’ve genuinely been moved by things that they’ve done or said. When Kyle “Oancitizen” Kalgren reviewed the film Melancholia, he did so with a dramatic framing device that was influenced by his struggle with depression; his narrative so closely resonated with my own life experiences that I was almost moved to tears. These profound moments have sometimes reached me when I least expect them, like Dan “Danny Sexbang” Avadan talking about his history with depression and OCD during a Legend of Zelda play-through – a story that carried an especially powerful emotional weight to it, because it’s a story that has a happy ending – or as close to one as any of us can ever get.
I could go on, but all I really want to do is to thank the people who have touched my life, some in small ways, some profoundly. So to Doug Walker, Brad Jones, Diamanda Hagan, Kyle Kalgren, Noah Antwiler, Danny Sexbang, Erin Hansen, the rest of the Game Grumps and so many others… to Justin Carmical… thank you. All of you have changed lives with your work, and every time you’ve said something that’s resonated with a viewer or made someone smile, you’ve made the world a better place.
“I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and I want you all to know this. This goes out to everybody. You’re not stupid. Okay? You’re not stupid. Don’t ever tell yourself that you are. You’re important. What you have in your head may not mean a lot to a lot of people, but it’s what makes you special. You are important. You mean something. And you’re going to go out there, and you’re going to do some wonderful things. But first and foremost, you’re not stupid. You’re not an idiot. Don’t ever tell yourself that you are. And if nobody else ever tells you this, I will tell you this – I care about you.”
– Justin Carmical a.k.a. JewWario