Thursday, November 22, 2007

The World According to Gene

(Warning: Portions of this post are not "family-friendly" and discuss "indelicate" topics that those with sensitive dispositions may find offensive. If you're squeamish about anything related to sex, I suggest you turn back now.)

The other day, I was listening to an NPR interview with Gene Simmons conducted by Terry Gross. As a lapsed KISS fan, I sometimes take an interest in what the band members are up to. I am also very familiar with Gene's pontificating on the nature of men and women and didn't really want to hear it again, but the site that had brought this interview to my attention (Confessions of a College Call-girl), had mentioned that, unlike most boot-licking interviewers, Ms. Gross wasn't going to chuckle amiably at his half-baked notions and egotistical statements. Ms. Gross did indeed point out how obnoxious Gene was being and the interview was good for a chuckle even though little new ground was covered on the Simmons front. About the only thing he added to his usual repertoire of philosophizing on (what I refer to tongue firmly in cheek as) gender issues is a vague mockery of intellectualism, NPR, reading books and the serious pursuit of education rather than going out and rocking and rolling all night and partying every day.

Part of the mantra that often comes out when Gene's mouth opens and he spews his philosophy of life is the notion that men are genetically-engineered not to monogamous. As one who has boasted of bedding over 4,000 different women with accompanying Polaroids to prove it, he uses this to validate his promiscuity as well as his absolute conviction that any man who professes he can love one woman forever or wants to be with her for anything besides the contents of her trousers is an absolute liar. I'm going to set aside the possibility that Gene is playing a character who says these things in order to present a specific public persona since I've heard him deliver his speeches on this topic about a hundred times with a straight face and an air of absolute conviction. Since I've seen him act, I know he's not that good an actor so I'm guessing this is all his (alarmingly) genuine belief.

One of the interesting points about listening to him talk is that his view of humanity (or at least the male half of it) is incredibly narrow. He is absolutely convinced that all men operate with the limited emotional maturity and lack of sexual control that he does. Anyone who does not share his perspective is simply a liar in his opinion. All men are dogs governed by the raging needs of their genitalia. He doesn't even entertain the idea that his mental machinery operates differently from other folks out there who also possess a penis. His myopia is remarkable because he is clearly a person who has had at least somewhat of an education (though he does seem intent on suppressing any expression of it) and has traveled the world. Of course, I'm guessing that his experiences while abroad were not exactly ones of cross-cultural enlightenment and may have been measured in how many photos he added to his collection of sexual conquests.

I often write of ethnocentrism and how it colors ones view of other cultures. People often are stuck in their own view of what is "right and wrong" or "good and bad" based on the environment they were raised it. It takes not only experience but mental effort to break free of this tendency. Such tendencies are not limited to perceptions of other cultures. A fair number of people are so incredibly ego-centric that they can't conceptualize that other people may not perceive the world just as they do. Enter Gene Simmons who apparently perceives the world through his penis and cannot believe there is any other truth than the one he espouses. His notions aren't actually offensive to women but are offensive to men as it reduces them to nothing more than slaves to their libidos and minimizes their ability to form deep and meaningful relationships with women. I guess that if you are incredibly egocentric and you can't form meaningful relationships, make lasting commitments, or relate to women as anything other than mothers or whores, then no man is capable of more than you.

Several posts back, I mentioned something about thinking which is one-level deep and I'm not surprised to have heard that Mr. Simmons applies such thinking to his theories of why all men are promiscuous. The notion is that, when we were cave folks, men who successfully sowed their seeds among the most fertile females would win the genetic lottery whereas monogamous men would find their material passed on at too low a frequency to produce a genetic legacy. As surface thinking, this works. However, it doesn't quite work when you start thinking a bit more deeply about the implications. First of all, impregnating any woman you can find doesn't help if your off-spring don't survive long enough to produce their own off-spring. Considering the vulnerability of pregnant women or those attempting to feed and protect a child, the chances of one successfully rearing a child to puberty without the support of a stronger partner who could provide food, security and support for survival seems pretty low. Serial monogamy suits the idea of ensuring your genes get passed on better than rampant promiscuity.

Gene also offered that "we'd all be retarded" if men weren't humping anything that moved but that also doesn't wash. Primitive people were nomadic and tended to travel in groups (as it was better for survival) with relatively limited exchanges of members between other groups. If a man produced too many off-spring within his limited group, there would be an increased chance of half-siblings mating with other half-siblings and then there's be a higher incidence of genetic defects. I guess Gene doesn't know that the average "caveman" didn't get around as much as the 20th century rock star and probably didn't encounter so many leg-spreading babes. However, thinking through a few of the other possible ramifications of the genetic theory of male infidelity would muddy up his limited world-view so there's no point in his going through the trouble.

There are many people like Gene out there in the world though they don't tend to confine their convictions to the way men perceive women. It's only Gene's incredible preoccupation with sex which makes him focus mainly on this particular aspect. These are other people who also are trapped in the notion that their own world-view is the correct one and that there is one and only one truth to be applied to various situations in life. They reject other perspectives as dishonest, ill-informed, uneducated, or simply "wrong". These are the types of people who enjoy the innocence and simplicity of a world divided neatly into black and white and reject all the unnecessarily complicated greys.

My readers might ponder why I even consider Gene's rantings or bother to refute them. Part of the reason for this is that I used to respect and admire him. Before he made his transformation from make-up-wearing, goth rock God to sleazy, pathetic shill intent on squeezing every penny out of his band's image with singing toothbrushes, customized coffins, and cheesy concept coffee houses, he used to be a relatively decent role model for teenagers, particularly in regards to avoiding alcohol and drugs and advocating people work hard, be smart (education didn't used to be something he regarded disdainfully) and pursue their dreams.


Two related asides...
  • People probably rarely lived in caves. The whole caveman thing is pretty much a modern myth. Ancient people were hunter-gatherers who traveled to places where the food was until agricultural practices were understood well enough to feed people. At that point, they built structures. Caves were likely temporary shelters at best during times of extreme hardship or prolonged weather upheavals.
  • Gene is writing a book about prostitution. When he visited Japan around 1989, there was a quote from his bandmate (and the one KISS member who still has dignity, creativity and class) Paul Stanley where he said all the band members got coupons for a Japanese soapland. The coupons entitled the bearer to a professional monkey spanking. Paul said that the experience was extremely intense and immensely pleasurable and encouraged Gene to avail himself of the services. Gene said that he would never, ever engage in any sexual behavior for money. Paul countered that they didn't have to pay as the Japanese promoters provided the tickets, but Gene still refused as he would never have sex for money no matter who was footing the bill. This also jives with the fact that Gene is Jewish and, despite the fact that he downplays his connection to his faith, he's fairly observant of its traditions. Judaism forbids the patronizing of prostitutes. This leaves me wondering what qualifies him to write such a book on either side of the issue. The only tenuous connection he has to sex workers is that his long-time girlfriend (and now plastic surgery victim) Shannon Tweed is a professional masturbatory aid.


CMUwriter said...

Yeah I remember listening to this interview a while back, and from what I remember Gross got in a fight with the guy, which doesn't happen all too often on that radio show. I hate to admit it, but I am more curious on the frequency that you listen to Fresh Air, and how, do they broadcast that on the radio? Was this a replay? For me it is always sad to see people who were very popular, like Simmons, and then are not still have their huge ego.

Shari said...

I listened to the interview from an on-line archive. I believe you can listen to NPR in Japan (my husband used to but we no longer have a radio). Apparently, many of Gross's interviews have been archived.

I'm not so disappointed that Gene's ego hasn't deflated. I'm more disappointed that he spews this drivel and has such a distorted view of life. Despite KISS's "has been' status, they still have influence and I don't like to think the message being sent to young men who are fans is that men are lying if they profess love and devotion to their girlfriends.

Shari said...

P.S. I linked to the archived file in my post (on the word "interview" in the first paragraph).

Chris ( said...

Just as brain volume relative to body size tells you a lot about the size of community in which a mammal typically lives (for humans, it's around 150), so testicle size and relative body size between males and females tells you a lot about the promiscuity or otherwise of a species.

Gorillas have small testicles, especially relative to their size. The alpha male will typically maintain a harem, and have (nearly) exclusive sexual access. Chimps have much larger testicles, and males will typically mate in succession with the same female. Humans are somewhere in the middle - males are larger than females on average, suggesting a moderate ability for males to secure relatively exclusive access to a female (tendency to monogamy or very mild polygyny). They have testicles which are larger than gorillas', but smaller than chimps, suggesting that they are not wildly promiscuous but at the same time not entirely monogamous.

Not that any of this bothers Mr Simmons. Instead he appeals to pseudo-science - he knows humans evolved out of Africa, and proceeds to then trample all over this with his ill-conceived notion of what life on the savanna would have meant for ancient man.

But what really gets me is the man's complete lack of spine. I mean, this is Gene Simmons, rock-God. Since when did he have to justify his actions to himself, especially by resorting to poor scientific arguments? Sounds like a man having trouble reconciling his conscience..

CMUwriter said...

Shari: I listen to FA all the time and download it via itunes so I can put it on my ipod and listen to it when I want. I can't believe you guys don't have a radio, how is that even possible? I almost want to buy you a small transistor radio for christmas or something. Are there not English radio broadcasts in Japan? BTW did you folks do, or do you do anything special for Thanksgiving? If so I hope you had a decent one.

Shari said...

Chris: That's the kind of information I like to learn. Life is so much more complicated than we immediately perceive and I love to hear about aspects I hadn't been exposed to.

It also seems especially pertinent because of something I didn't bring up in my (already too long) post. Gene Simmons is famous for having a small penis. I don't mean that as a derogatory thing I made up to insult him. This is something he's bragged about to other musicians and they've related this in interviews. It's also something groupies have talked about. It totally fits with the biological information you've provided on promiscuity.

I do wonder if Gene talks about this all the time because it's what people keep asking about (because of his album of 4000+ sexual conquests) or if it's because his kids are at an age where they might listen to his spiel and he's self-justifying because his children have expressed they feel it's disrespectful to their mother to carry on like he does.

cmuwriter: I think we may have a radio in the closet which is part of an old cassette recorder we haven't used in over a decade now. I also asked my husband if our tuner had a radio and he said, "it might". It's very sweet though that the idea of sending us one popped into your head. :-)

While there is English language programming (notably the Armed Forces Network, FEN), we just don't tend to listen to it. With the internet and cable T.V. for information, we just have no need for the radio. If we had cars, we'd probably listen but we have to walk or bike everywhere.

We can't celebrate Thanksgiving here for a variety of reasons (which I'm going to post about later today if I have time) so we didn't do anything special. :-(

Many thanks to both of you for the excellent comments!

Emsk said...

As usual these days I'm commenting late on your very interesting story. Gene Simmons is not an unintelligent man, but he really isn't thinking around the subject here. His comments remind of of those he-men who write stupid books saying that the MAN always has to make the first move, negating that some guys are simply shy or don't like to go knuckle-dragging after the woman in their viewfinder. They refuse to open up to other possibilities.

I laughed at the bit at the beginning where you wrote that having been a Kiss fan you do occasionally like to know what they're up to. I feel the same way about Metallica.