In praise of a master. In all cases, red bold font emphasis added.
This post will be about the literary, theater, and film critic John Ivan Simon. The subject would seem at first glance unrelated to activism; however, I maintain that Simon’s work, which exemplifies elegant viciousness, represents the type of mocking ridicule that can be effective against retards of both the Left and the Right.
John Simmon was born in Subotica of Hungarian descent to Joseph and Margaret (née Reves) Simmon. He amended his surname at some point to “Simon”. He has said that his middle name “Ivan” was later added by his father to add distinction. He grew up in Belgrade before immigrating to the United States in 1941, aged 16, on a tourist visa to join his father.
…he is known for dwelling on what he sees as the physical flaws of those actors who displease him: Wallace Shawn is “unsightly”, Barbra Streisand’s nose “cleaves the giant screen from east to west, bisects it from north to south. It zigzags across our horizon like a bolt of fleshy lightning,” while Kathleen Turner is a “braying mantis”
Carol Burnett wrote a letter to Time responding to an attack on Liza Minnelli, whose face Simon had compared to that of a beagle…
A 1980 issue of Variety included an ad signed by 300 people decrying Simon’s reviews as racist and vicious.
An unpleasant critical review of Simon himself is here, but it does contain another wonderfully appropriate attack against Streisand by Simon:
Simon’s specialty is making punching bags out of people whose looks he finds repellent, especially those who don’t conform to traditional modes of beauty. (Barbra Streisand has been a favorite target over the years: Early in her career, he said she looked like “a tremulous young borzoi.”).
Read this for more examples of Simon’s fine and inspiring work; several examples are reproduced below:
The kids themselves, with the exception of Cathy Burns (Rhoda), are not particularly good actors, and Barbara Hershey (Sandy, and not a kid anymore) looks, regrettably, much better with her bikini top on than off. Miss Burns, on the other hand, is an extremely accomplished little actress, but also insuperably homely — she looks, in fact, like a pink beach ball with a few limbs and features painted on it. There is no excuse for Rhoda’s being a positive freak, and making us feel she is damned lucky to have been raped at all.
Even more unpleasant, though, is Mimsy Farmer’s breathy Marilyn Monroe-Jackie Kennedy English, in which “charcoal,” for instance, is pronounced “chuhkuh,” the uh’s representing gusts of breath. An altogether dispensable girl, this Mimsy, looking and acting like a cross between Sandy Dennis and a young Lizabeth Scott, with added suggestions of Jean Seberg and a death’s-head.
Paul McCartney, a chubbily handsome young man, appears quite pleasant with, or despite, his generation-shaping look. But the others! Particularly grubby are John Lennon and his worse half, Yoko Ono, who sits, smug and possessive, almost always within touching distance of him. Flouting, it would seem, even minimal sanitary measures, their hair looks like a Disneyland for the insect world, and their complexions appear to be portable bacterial cultures.
It is regrettable to have both leading ladies in such a dashing film seemingly vie with each other for this year’s Homeliness Award, just as it is misguided to entrust the gallantly swashbuckling lead to David Hemmings, who, besides being a mediocre actor, looks in long shots like something out of Planet of the Apes.
Huston has directed in a bored and lackluster fashion, and his performing of a minor role is deplorably leprechaunish. The ending of the picture is an absolute botch, and there is a perfectly blank, supremely inept performance by Huston’s daughter, Anjelica, who has the face of an exhausted gnu, the voice of an unstrung tennis racket, and a figure of no describable shape.
Jean-Marie Patte seems miscast as Louis; he would have been much better as the protagonist of The Blob.
Miss Hepburn’s quality was and will be that of an offbeat, madcap debutante, and she has now simply entered the emerita division of the same category. Her Aurelia is all huskily doddering sexiness and girlish flutters, senior division. When you think of the great Marguerite Moreno, who created the role, and then look at this performance, exact replicas of which have already earned Miss Hepburn two ill-deserved Oscars, you may wish to forsake the auditorium for the vomitorium.
But just how garish her commonplace accent, squeakily shrill voice, and the childish petulance with which she delivers her lines are, my pen is neither scratchy nor leaky enough to convey. The once pretty face has become coarse, though from a distance it can still look good — but only if it avoids any attempt at expression, as, to be sure, it not infrequently does. Only the bosom keeps implacably marching on — or down, as the case may be — but I do not feel qualified to be the Xenophon of this reverse anabasis.
The most famous case is Sylvia Miles throwing some steak tartare at me, which made her into a heroine. In fact, Andy Warhol said in one of his so-called books that she’s famous for that and not much else. This incident was so welcomed by the Simon-hating press that the anecdote has been much retold. She herself has retold it ten thousand times. And this steak tartare has since metamorphosed into every known dish from lasagna to chop suey. It’s been so many things that you could feed the starving orphans of India or China with it.
Because of female privilege, Miles was not arrested, indicted, and convicted for assault and battery, which should have been the outcome.
Imagine Simonian invective against SJWs, Type I Nutzis, smelly Antifa sucker-punchers, Alt Right grifters, “movement” freaks and perverts, flare-nosed AOC, eyebrow-patched McHugh, Trump – the mind boggles.