March 16, 2017

"'Missing Richard Simmons' speaks to both the possibilities and the limits of the emerging prestige podcast form."

"Many of the podcast’s tropes — the mystery framing, the crowdsourcing of clues from the audience and a format that focuses on the narrator as much as his subject — are borrowed directly from 'Serial.' By turning a journalist into a friend and casting a man’s personal life as a mystery, 'Missing Richard Simmons' has retooled the stale Hollywood documentary as an addictive media sensation. But it’s also turned it into a morally suspect exercise: An invasion of privacy masquerading as a love letter. Mr. Simmons is a public figure, and that gives journalists a lot of latitude to pry. But a friend who claims to want to help Mr. Simmons should probably just leave him alone."

Writes Amanda Hess in "'Missing Richard Simmons,' the Morally Suspect Podcast" at the NYT.

I've listened to all the as-yet available episodes of "Missing Richard Simmons" and I'm not so negative about it. I think the podcaster, Dan Taberski, continually examines the morality of his project and exhibits kindness and empathy toward Simmons. The podcast has greatly increased my respect and good feeling toward Simmons — to the point where I could even suspect Taberski of being in cahoots with Simmons in some extremely clever PR project. Simmons has spent decades promoting himself one way or another. Why wouldn't he retool his fame like this?

I guess I should send my theory in for Taberski to examine. It could be whole episode!

6 comments:

Gahrie said...

I can't wait to see how Chuckles turns this post into an attack on Trump.......

Jason said...

Amanda Hess recently wrote a lengthy piece about how to avoid falling into an information bubble.

I found a whole bunch of non-libs she has blocked on Twitter.

William said...

Not much interest in Richard Simmons here. Perhaps he should speak out more on politics. Properly played, he could take up the slack on Lena Dunham's slow days.

robother said...

With all due respect for MST3K, this is the Golden Age of stalking.

mr said...

I also have listened to all the publicly-available podcasts, and have come to many of the same conclusions as our hostess. My opinion of Richard Simmons has gone from "I remember that weirdo" to "What a really interesting, sweet guy." I think that Taberski has done a terrific job of maintaining the suspense of this mystery, presenting the rather odd cast of characters who people Simmons's life with empathy and wit.

Sammy Finkelman said...

Simmons is behind this podcast the way Donald Trump leaked the first two pages of his 2005 tax return.