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Why KISS' Gene Simmons </br>-- and all of us -- need to be more open-minded

Gene Simmons

definitive -- adjective: not able to be argued about or changed; final and settled; complete, accurate, and considered to be the best of its kind


Music is always evolving. Ever-changing.

When someone makes a rigid, definitive statement – for instance, that some new form of music is bad – that person is failing to acknowledge that the art form is in constant motion.

So when KISS bassist and rock ‘n’ roll icon Gene Simmons made some definitive, negative statements about pop music last week, he set the Internet (mostly Twitter) on fire.

I am looking forward to the death of rap. -- Gene Simmons

In a Rolling Stone magazine interview about the 40th anniversary of Kiss' “Destroyer,” Simmons was quoted as saying, “I am looking forward to the death of rap.” He predicted the genre would be gone in “10 years.”

He went on to say "I don't have the cultural background to appreciate being a gangster," Implying the genre has nothing to offer him as a 66-year-old rock star.

This article, posted on March 17, is filled with other definitive statements from Simmons, including his dislike of current rock artists, pop stars and EDM DJs. While I usually would brush these off as the rants of a curmudgeon and out-of-touch aging rocker, the reaction on social media has me greatly concerned.

Just like our politics

In an almost perfect parallel to our current political debates, these quotes are stripped from the interview, and used to support or argue against the legendary bass player’s opinions.

But that’s the problem. These are opinions, not factual statements. In fact, all of his statements can be easily disputed with just a few simple facts.

Example: When referring to the death of rap, Simmons says in the article, "... other than KISS, which plays stadiums around the world, there's no other New York band that was ever able to do that."

Fact: In 2014, New York rapper Jay-Z and his wife Beyonce’s “On the Run” tour played stadiums over a six-week span. Tour promoter Live Nation reported 19 sold-out shows and ticket sales totaling $96 million.

While we could poke holes in Mr. Simmons' comments all day, this is not the point.

Causing harm

The point is that making blanket statements about an entire cultural movement causes harm.  When you have the love and admiration of a large group of people, these types of definitive declaration can isolate people. Shuts them off from what “other” people are doing. Pits groups against each other.

Just two days after the Rolling Stone article, Pitchfork ran a story in which New York rapper Talib Kweli tweeted "Would it be unfair of me to say I'm looking forward to the death

@genesimmons or nah.“  Kweli went on: “Pointing out everything is ‘cyclical’ is different than ‘looking forward’ to things dying. Do better Gene.”

I think we all need to “do better.”

Making a definitive statement about any culture, subculture or any artistic movement closes doors and creates divisions.

To say something is not valid, or that it should “die,” denies those who love that form of expression the validation they need to become the next Picasso, Vivaldi -- or even the next KISS.
88Nine Senior Director of Programming | Radio Milwaukee