Friday, January 19, 2024

When You Decide to Quit Being Famous But People Won't Let You Do So--On Richard Simmons

Richard Simons was a pop-culture icon in the 1980's and 1990's. Famous for his bright red hair, energetic personality, and for encouraging folks to exercise via videos he sold (he had all kinds of ages and body types in his exercise programs too), the man was very well-known. Then, in 2014, he just kind of decided he was done. Simmons withdrew from public life and by 2016 didn't do any big media events. This alarmed fans and the tabloids who concocted all kinds of rumors and scenarios from saying he was being held hostage by a housekeeper, to he had busted his knees, to he was getting gender reassignment surgery. Simmons would simply put out press releases saying he was living a quiet life and wanted to be left alone. People didn't like that.

It seems Richard Simmons did one of the worst things a celebrity can do besides committing a crime--he decided to quit caring about being famous. Human beings seem incapable of grasping such an idea. Many people yearn to achieve fame, those who do get popular and fade from the public eye grasp and claw at anything they can to stay relevant (many celebrities have made a career out of being D-list reality show contestants. How dare someone still be of interest to the public and then want to be allowed to live in his/her house unbothered, go get groceries without cameras going off, or otherwise be left alone! How could Simmons choose to quit entertaining us with his videos when we demanded such a thing? He owes us as fans! For real though, Richard Simmons wanted a private life and many people have at least respected that.

Pauly Shore as Richard Simmons in, "The Court Jester."

This leads to the latest news that Pauly Shore is playing Richard Simmons in a biopic (preceded by a short film) titled, "The Court Jester," and how Richard Simmons put out one of those rare press releases on his Facebook stating, "Don't believe everything you read...I just try to live a quiet life and be peaceful." It astounded people so much Simmons made this statement on his rarely-used Facebook he went on to clarify in another post the 17th, "Hello.  I have received quite a few media inquiries about the authenticity of my post.  I have not had a manager or publicist for years. If there are any more media inquiries, please email them through the contact page on my website at Love, Richard." He put it simply, but Pauly Shore and friends still made a short film about Simmons that will be premiering at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival and then shall be expanded into a feature film, against Simmons's wishes.

I understand we want to talk about Simmons and I imagine he doesn't mind if we do so in the context of how much we enjoyed his past work, public appearances, and so forth. Plus, anyone who wants to make a movie about him can, but if he asks you not to do such a thing, I'd argue the ethical choice is to follow his request. I also am aware that it is a bit of a paradox that I am making a post drawing attention to the fact Simmons wants us to just leave him be. All of that said, Richard Simmons has told us he's happy with a life out of the public eye, doing whatever he wants to do without public scrutiny. Even if it blows our minds someone could want to quit being famous, Simmons did just that. Let's just let the guy be happy.

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