Listen in: 'Missing Richard Simmons'
The sun is finally shining in Geneva, prompting a change in my morning routine: Walking to work. To make an occasion of my first walk-to-work, I started a new podcast: Missing Richard Simmons. If who this man is does not immediately come to mind, this should help:
The story goes: Richard Simmons taught a regular aerobic class at his studio called Slimmons for 40 years. Then, two years ago, he didn't show up and, for the most part, no one saw or heard from him again. Filmmaker Dan Taberski has started a new podcast, five episodes in, investigating this mystery disappearance.
I finished the third episode today and I am a fan, which is unsurprising considering this podcast was named the next big audio hit since Serial. Simmons is a confounding personality, made even more confusing in that he is also so relatable. He was someone who showed up in public - loud, colorful, energetic - but would also admit that, apart from his class and the hundreds of photos that followed, he would go home and keep the company of only a few people, spending most of his time with his long-term housekeeper and his dogs. To others, he seemed lonely and unhappy. This is something I relate to profoundly, as people often perceive me as outgoing but, in my own time, I tend to be very quiet. Without going into detail, I would say this is a characteristic trait of my family. Big personalities, rather small lives.
The main point being: I'm hooked. However, the New York times published an article this week that makes me a little uncomfortable with just how hooked I am. This article asks: Is it our business to snoop into the life of someone who took a very obvious step out of the limelight? What right is that of ours? "Mr. Taberski...relentlessly pesters Mr. Simmons and friends for personal details pertaining to his mental and physical health. It's not quite a public shaming; Mr. Taberski is careful to express respect for Mr. Simmons. Call it a public hounding."
And it is. It unarguably is. Because Simmons is not missing, he has just retreated into a private life, to which he has every right. And whatever the ponderings for why are - his mental state, his gender identity - it is no one's right to put these unfounded speculations out there in a chart-topping podcast. But this is exactly what is happening. And while I disagree, I do not think I will stop listening. The story is so good that I want to find out what happens next.
Is anyone else in this same boat? Will you listen in?