Editing Q&E’s worldwide exclusive interview with Richard Simmons (below) yesterday led me to ponder what seems like the essential Richard Simmons question: is this guy serious, or what?
I think he is. The mistake with Richard is to equate ridiculousness with lack of seriousness, which is usually a safe assumption, but not in this case. Think of it this way: here you have a guy who’se NCLB proposal is, objectively speaking, just as serious as many of those being put forth by various legit organizations, advocates etc.–in some cases, more so. He goes on national TV in front of millions of people to pitch his ideas, and as a result generates a lot of public response, letters to Congressman, and gets people like us, Education Week, etc., to publicize his ideas. Public Advocacy 101. The only difference between Richard and everyone else with an NCLB agenda is that he’s doing a better job of promoting his. It’s frivolity with a purpose, in other words. The voice and frizzy hair, the short shorts and outsized persona–those are all just a means to an end, and should be considered in those terms. Unlike most people, Richard is willing to be mocked if that furthers his goals, which makes him more serious, not less.