Joe Scarborough ain’t the only one under fire this morning! Spandex-loving fitness guru Richard Simmons finds himself in homo-journo Brent Hartinger’s sights for what Hartinger calls his “gay minstrel show,” as exhibited in this Bridgestone commercial.
…Let me be very clear here: it’s not Simmons’ effeminate mannerisms that are the problem, or even his personal style and flamboyance. In that respect, he has absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, and has every right to express himself and dress however he sees fit. Any ridicule that he receives for not being a traditionally masculine male is, frankly, solely the result of prejudice and bigotry on the part of the person doing the ridiculing.
But when Simmons presents himself in a stereotypically “gay” fashion, but then allows himself to be the object of violence or open ridicule and humiliation, he crosses the line into minstrel-dom.
It’s wrong of Simmons to do it, and it’s wrong of late-night comedians and advertisers to take advantage of his willingness to do it.
In short, it’s long past time that Simmons’ gay minstrel show be retired.
Hartinger’s definitely got a point: Simmons makes his bread and butter by exploiting his effeminate ways for public consumption. But, then again, so do more recent gay stars, ie: some makeover show queens. It’s a slippery, well lubed slope.