Gene Simmons—a 64-year-old man who makes his living as a rock ’n’ roll clown, and therefore has lots of opinions worth considering—has spent the last several weeks sharing his thoughts on various social issues, as is the onus of everyone who picks up a bass guitar. In a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal, Simmons came to the defense of Donald Sterling and Mel Gibson, decrying Big Brother’s infringement on the racist rants that are the bedrock of every American’s private home life. Prior to that, Simmons came to the defense of the exceedingly wealthy, asking that everyone “try being nice to rich people” like him in return for all the jobs he’s created; for example, the vast manufacturing industry dedicated to churning out stuff with his face on it.
Intrigued by these platforms, naturally Fox News invited Simmons on to discuss sexism in the workplace, where he addressed the wage gap and the belittling of women in the corporate structure by championing the right of men to hold doors open for them “like the princesses you are.” While he was there, Gene Simmons also weighed in on the economy, welfare, the minimum wage, labor unions, Russia, and Gaza, with Fox News taking full advantage of this rare opportunity to hear what Gene Simmons thinks about things.
While on Fox News, Simmons also touched on immigration, though the discussion was unfortunately too brief and multifaceted to spend too much time on it. Fortunately, he was later able to expand on those thoughts in an interview with HuffPost Live, where Gene Simmons addressed the issue with all the nuance for which he’s known.
I’m actually saying the thing that needs to be said, ‘cause the politically correct climate is bullshit… You don’t want to upset anybody by saying, ‘Learn to speak goddamn English.’ So, as an immigrant, I’m telling you: learn to speak goddamn English. It is the key that will unlock the keys to the kingdom. If you make the effort, then all the possibilities of this culture will open up for you and give you all the rewards that I’ve gotten.
Further making it clear that Simmons reserves no sympathy for anyone—except maligned multimillionaires who have their racist jokes taped without their permission—he also recently gave an interview to Songfacts, in which he offered his thoughts on people suffering from depression—prompted, obviously, by a question about whether he still keeps in touch with Ace Frehley and Peter Criss. And while the politically correct climate would say that you don’t want to upset anybody by telling depressed people to kill themselves, Gene Simmons once again said the thing that Gene Simmons needed to say:
Drug addicts and alcoholics are always: “The world is a harsh place.” My mother was in a concentration camp in Nazi Germany. I don’t want to hear fuck all about “the world as a harsh place.” She gets up every day, smells the roses and loves life. And for a putz, 20-year-old kid to say, “I’m depressed, I live in Seattle.” Fuck you, then kill yourself.
I never understand, because I always call them on their bluff. I’m the guy who says ‘Jump!’ when there’s a guy on top of a building who says, “That’s it, I can’t take it anymore, I’m going to jump.” Are you kidding? Why are you announcing it? Shut the fuck up, have some dignity and jump! You’ve got the crowd. By the way, you walk up to the same guy on a ledge who threatens to jump and put a gun to his head, “I’m going to blow your fuckin’ head off!” He’ll go, “Please don’t!” It’s true. He’s not that insane.
Of course, while Simmons actually gave the interview weeks before, his comments have now taken on a very different light in the wake of Robin Williams’ suicide, amid a conversation about depression that—like every other thing on Earth—apparently required a KISS-branded version from Simmons. And though Simmons later offered his own R.I.P. message to Robin Williams, pleased that he didn’t waste Gene Simmons’ time, other people who have lived or are living with depression have taken issue with his words. People like Mötley Crüe’s Nikki Sixx, who called Simmons’ comments “moronic” on his radio show, and took him to task on Twitter.
The fallout has continued far beyond the world of heavy metal bassists: Today, Australia’s Triple M radio network reacted by issuing a nationwide ban on all KISS songs, with network chief Mike Fitzpatrick saying, “The Triple M Network can’t and won’t be playing or supporting this dickhead’s music. I put the challenge out to other stations across Australia and North America to also drop any of this nudnik’s songs until such time as he reconsiders his thoughtless and insensitive position.” So far, Winnipeg’s Power 97 has taken Triple M up on its challenge, declaring it a “KISS Free Zone.” It remains to be seen whether any American stations will follow suit, possibly by finding some other songs written in the last 40 years that are about rocking.
Finally, the constant barrage of negative tweets that Simmons had been receiving led the man who always boldly tells it like it is without fear of upsetting anyone to delete his Twitter account today. It’s possible that, like so many others, Simmons finally heard his own words and lived up to them by just committing public relations suicide already, after spending these past several weeks shouting from the ledge.
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