March 21, 2017

"But as unsatisfying as the show was as a mystery, it was fascinating as a study of what we ask of public figures — of what we feel entitled to ask of them."

"If there's one thing that the podcast showed, and in fact if there's one thing on which Taberski rested his thesis that Simmons' withdrawal was worthy of further investigation, it's that Richard Simmons gave a preposterous amount of himself away to the people who bought his products, came to his classes, went on his cruises, and simply told him how much pain they were in because they thought he would understand. The thesis of the show is largely that a man who was so close to people and loved being close to people would never just stop doing it.... The sad thing about Missing Richard Simmons is that if Richard Simmons finally decided to drop all of those rocks and rest — whatever state he was in when he did — then nothing makes it clearer how he got to that point than someone making a hit out of demanding over and over some kind of explanation. Perhaps he finally drew a boundary."

Writes Linda Holmes at NPR now that "Missing Richard Simmons" has released its 6th a final episode.

You can listen to all 6 episodes here. The first 3 episodes are excellent, setting up the mystery. The last 3 are less good, because Taberski is too wedded to his own ideas of why it's a mystery... and that it is a mystery. How can he just come out and say actually it's not a mystery? If it's not, what's the point of the podcast? If Richard Simmons doesn't need help, then why are you pestering him?

I think Richard Simmons put immense energy and emotion into playing the character he inhabited in public. He decided the show was over for whatever personal reasons he had, and he's gone private. That's his point: He's private now, and his reasons are private. Accept it!

24 comments:

Ron Winkleheimer said...

He decided the show was over for whatever personal reasons he had, and he's gone private.

My guess is that he figures he has all the money he needs and would like to live out the rest of his life without the hassle of having to be "on" all the time, which seems more than reasonable to me.

Rob said...

@Ron Winkleheimer

Exactly. How much money can one guy spend? He must have stashed away a goddam fortune.

Unknown said...

Gioachino Rossini composed 38 operas by age 38 and then stopped writing operas. He lived to 76.

Widmerpool said...

Thought this was good. Get's at what I found a bit annoying about Taberski. Enjoyable nonetheless.

http://uproxx.com/entertainment/missing-richard-simmons-podcast-recap/

rehajm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rae said...

If more "celebrities" decided to withdraw from the public, the world would be a better place.

Snark said...

My sense is that he's isolated himself as a result of depression and is wealthy enough to fund the literal and metaphorical barriers that keep him ill. Virtually everybody who still has regular access to him is entangled financially.

buwaya said...

"Accept it!"

Never!

We must feed ...

Static Ping said...

We'll always have the robotic Richard Simmons. Is that not enough?

wild chicken said...

I'm surprised that more people who have made don't do this. It gets to the point that what you used to love becomes nauseating.

Um, that said, I hope Ann isn't going to leave us.

Etienne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rcocean said...

Large numbers of people do something for a long time and then stop and do something else. I got tired of Finance/Budgets and went into HR. Weld decided he didn't want to be Mass. Governor, quit and tried to be Ambassador to Mexico.

Dashell Hammett quit writing about Sam Spade to be a full time Commie.

Maybe, Simmons (who's almost 70) got tired of shaky his booty at Fat girls.

rcocean said...

Deanna Durbin was one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood, she retired at 29 and lived the rest of her life in France.

Grace Kelly retired at almost the same age. And then there's Garbo.

I'm still looking for a Male Actor who retired at the peak of his career.

Etienne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Snark said...

Blogger Widmerpool said...
Thought this was good. Get's at what I found a bit annoying about Taberski. Enjoyable nonetheless.

http://uproxx.com/entertainment/missing-richard-simmons-podcast-recap/

I think think his conclusion that Taberski "pursued Richard Simmons not for Simmons’ sake but his own" missed one of the most interesting ideas to come out of the podcast - that what we do for others and what we do for ourselves is perhaps inextricably bound together and in some ways indistinguishable.

FullMoon said...

Maybe he got fat again.

traditionalguy said...

OK. An introvert got wore out putting on an extrovert's tap dance. Let's hope he has accumulated the money he needs to build himself a big wall.

madAsHell said...

The reason Simmons retired

He could no longer tease his hair into a 'fro, and cover the bald spot.

Laslo Spatula said...

There is a syndrome where fat women past their prime fixate on a gay male that they can perceive as not gay but asexual...

I call this 'Elizabeth Taylor Syndrome.'

Sure, she was Elizabeth Taylor, but she got fat, and when she got fat what did she do? She spent her time hanging out with Michael Jackson.

Michael Jackson: a gay male that Taylor could perceive as not gay but asexual. There is also the whole sex-with-children thing, too, but Liz probably thought Michael only molested asexual children like Macaulay Culkin in an asexual way...

So Liz got Michael. But not everybody is a Celebrity. And the typical Non-Famous Asexual Gay Guy in Eighties Middle America had a creepiness that somehow made Asexuality vaguely sexually threatening. Because unironic polyester, to begin...

Then, it Happened. Non-Famous Fat Women of America past their prime: they got Richard Simmons. Through the miracle of TV they ALL got Richard Simmons. He was THEIR asexual gay dude. Weird, but not in a threatening way. Accepting. His biggest accomplishment? For these women he made their giving up on sex easier to live with...

Because we know Richard Simmons didn't have sex. No. The Idea of Richard Simmons having sex is self-negating. If Richard Simmons had had sex he wouldn't be Richard Simmons: Ipso Facto...

Richard Simmons shattered the glass ceiling that prevented Non-Celebrity Fat Women from having their own Magical Asexual Gay Guy. It was okay to give up on sex. Heck -- like many of these women -- maybe Richard was raped a little, too, when HE was young...

But Times inevitably change. Reality TV -- of which Simmons IS a forerunner -- began to teach Fat Women With Elizabeth Taylor Syndrome that they can expect a better class of TV Asexual Gay Guy Friend: more handsome, less obviously desperate. Some of them could now look like the men they would want to have sex with, if they hadn't given up on sex...

TV Asexual Gay Guy Friend allows these women to even pretend that they maybe WOULD have sex, if only there were heterosexual men around as understanding and accepting as TV Asexual Gay Guy Friend. But -- of course -- there are no men to fill this description: because the description only works for Gay Guys. Whew: these women dodged a bullet, there...

And now the gay guys who look and act like Richard Simmons don't even get the friendship of Fat Women With Elizabeth Taylor Syndrome: Gay Progress has cast them aside, to forever be bridesmaids even though they can now legally marry...

I hope this helps put Richard Simmons' seclusion in better context.

I am Laslo.



Roughcoat said...

I'm still looking for a Male Actor who retired at the peak of his career.

Victor Mature. He announced his retirement after making "The Tartars," released in 1961. He was then in his late 40s and one of the biggest male box office draws. He returned to Hollywood in appear in what were basically supporting or cameo roles. One of those was "After the Fox," written by Neil Simon, in which he played a dissolute has-been movie actor Simon modeled on ... Victor Mature. Mature was delighted to satirize himself, and that's why he took the role. But basically, after "The Tartars," he was done.

He said: "It wasn't fun anymore" [makeing movies]. "I was ok financially so I thought what the hell - I'll become a professional loafer."

He also said: "I was never that crazy about acting. I had a compulsion to earn money, not to act. So I worked as an actor until I could afford to retire. I wanted to quit while I could still enjoy life... I like to loaf. Everyone told me I would go crazy or die if I quit working. Yeah? Well what a lovely way to die."

Gotta love the guy. Heck, he's almost a hero to me. If I were rich I'd be so low-profile, enjoying life, that you wouldn't even know I was there.

Chris N said...

Pop neuroscience, psychology and this kind of faux-wonder/mystery narrative Exploration Of The Self, World And Others clearly does mean something to its practioners and many consumers.

It's vaguely moral and occasionally moralistic (how should I live, what should I do?).

It possesses whiffs of middlebrow collectivism, hipster self-flattery and regard, and usually allows listeners to pander to themselves, indulging in armchair analysis and voyeurism.

It's the bread and butter of NPR, The New Yorker, The Atlantic etc.

It's why the Terry Gross/Ira Glass sorts seem like unimaginative turds to me.

glenn said...

Richard Who?

SukieTawdry said...

Laslo's post got me thinking about the Liza Minnelli/David Gest nuptials. Liz and Michael were co-ringbearers (Liz left her shoes behind and had to wear her slippers). It was a grotesque spectacle (that I wouldn't have missed watching for the world). Richard Simmons was always a little bizarre, but he made his exit before he became grotesque, so good for him.

Mike said...

I find it interesting that he was personal friends with Harvey Levin -- now of TMZ fame, but previously a legal analyst who came to the fore during the OJ trial. Both are very private people who created careers/characters that are very public. For the first five years or so of TMZ Levin allowed veiled allusions to his sexuality, but the show always presented it cagily.

Here I need to to digress, because if all you know of TMZ is that it focuses on celebrity news, then you really haven't watched it and "got it" as they say. The magic of TMZ is that the show is topically about celebrity activity, but essentially a bull-session in which the crew, the videographers, the editors and others whose roles are not really clear pitch the clips they think should run on the show and the resulting argument among that mob and the producers and lawyers, which eventually turns to making fun mercilessly of Levin or an unfortunate crew member. These sessions are edited cleverly, but the real star (who appears to be uncredited, because I've scoured the credits for his name) is the voice-over guy who sets up the scene and drops innuendo and outrageous remarks, occasionally singing a parody to illustrate a point. This is the fun in TMZ and there turns out to be very little news about celebrities. Over time, the way Levin allows himself to be the punchline of so many jokes has also evolved to obvious and even literal references to his life as a gay man, something the show studiously hid in the beginning.

So I personally find it interesting that Harvey Levin and Richard Simmons are friends, given their public personae and penchant for privacy. Neither did live a private life (TMZ often caught Simmons on his way to the gym (where Levin also works out) or to other downtown LA locations and treated him nicely), but tried to control what the public could see, what they wanted them to see.