"All this time I swore I'd never be like my old man...
...what the hey, it's time to face exactly who I am."
- From the song "Hate to Feel" by Alice In Chains
I've cried exactly three times in my adult life. The first, when I saw my own father break down (the one and only time he ever has cried as far as I know of) while delivering his Mother's eulogy.
The second, was several years later as I carried my Maternal Grandmother's casket from the church at her funeral as a pallbearer.
The third time was last night...from watching a reality TV show.
Well, technically I had tears come unbidden to my eyes for which I tried to blink back and suppress as much as possible, whereas in the first two instances, I didn't even bother trying to hold it back, but still...I've never thought that watching a reality TV show would ever ever cause such a strong emotional reaction in myself.
But it did. That show was Gene Simmon's Family Jewels.
I began recording this show on the DVR about a year ago after having found myself in a hospital bed with nothing to do for hours other than channel surf. I came across a Gene Simmon's Family Jewels marathon and proceeded to watch about 4 hours of episodes in a single sitting. While I was never a huge KISS fan, I found the show to be quite entertaining...especially when viewed through the lens of understanding social and relationship dynamics gained from studying this popular "interwebz manosphere fad" called "Game."
Simmons is the quintessential "Alpha" in every sense of the word and you can see many game concepts play out in the reality show.
But that's not why I'm writing this post.
The new season for this show began three weeks ago, and it began with the first episode in which Simmon's 18 year old daughter Sophie, leaves the home to go off to college and Gene's Girlfriend, Shannon Tweed, starts experiencing a bad case of empty nest syndrome. She reaches a breaking point when a supposed dinner in which both their kids were going to be at home, Gene missed because he was at a business dinner with the usual assortment of groupie women who seem to hang off of him whenever he makes a public appearance.
The ladies end up posting their photos with the KISS Rock star on the internet, and Shannon is greatly upset that instead of coming home for dinner with their visiting kids, he's out in public with young hot women hanging all over him.
If Athol were to diagnose this, I'm sure he'd point out that Gene was showing too much Alpha traits and not enough Beta traits to build comfort in his relationship with the former Playboy Playmate. Gene is already a multi-millionaire. He's in a place where he shouldn't have to prioritize business meetings over important, personal family moments. But I digress...
Shannon ends up moving out of there house into a hotel, and Gene gets shellshocked when the kids take their mother's side, and he begins to attend therapy by episode 2 of the season.
The show was no longer entertaining me. At this point, I considered deprogramming it from my DVR, as it appeared to begin to follow the typical mainstream media script of Man Bad/Woman Great.
It was like watching the "breaking of the Alpha" as he falls into the depths of oneitis depression. It was worse watching his therapy sessions with a female therapist.
By the end of the third episode, he manages to woo Shannon back home with promises of changing..blah blah blah.
The ultimate female fantasy. The taming of the Alpha that is desired by thousands of young women the world over.
At this point, I suspect that the entire "break up" and "get back together" is just a scripted "Reality" to drive ratings. Hell, I'm almost certain it was scripted as I started googling this morning and discovered that they made appearances on female daytime talk shows and had arguments with Shannon storming off the set in tears. Talk about calculated rating's stunts.
But in my mind, this week's episode offered redemption for the Vagenda-driven rating's stunt drama of the first three episodes. Even if the overall direction of this most recent episode was scripted, there is no way some of the reactions and dialog from this latest could have been faked, rehearsed or acted. It was as real as any "reality" show could be.
You can watch the episode for yourself here before reading the rest of this post, which, naturally, contains spoilers: http://bcove.me/02gnesdt
For those who don't know much about Gene Simmons, he was born in Haifa, Israel, and came to America with his mother when he was only a young boy of about 9 or 10. Given his tremendous success as a Rock Star and a businessman (and now reality show star) his hometown wanted to present him with an award of some sort. Shannon decided it was the perfect opportunity to make Gene deal with his personal Father-abandonment related issues.
So Shannon arranges a surprise meeting with Gene's family members, who he purportedly did not know even existed.
According to the show, Gene had always been under the assumption that his Father abandoned he and his Mother, which is why they came to America when he was still a young boy. He used that as his personal motivation and drive to succeed in life. He admits that his thoughts of the abandonment drove him his entire life to prove that he did not need his Father for anything. As far as he was concerned, his Father was dead to him, he wanted nothing to do with him...so much so that he forbade his Mother from talking to him about his Father. He never visited or talked to his Father on the phone. He only wrote a single, short letter to his Father when he was younger, and he never received a response. His Father passed away in 2002.
Gene apparently didn't have an idea that he even had a half brother and three half sisters and a bunch of nieces and nephews still living in Haifa. I would suspect that deep down, he knew somehow that he had relatives, but he kept that knowledge suppressed because he did not want to deal with his Father-abandonment issues.
Nevertheless, when Shannon and Nick (his son) accompany Gene to a restaurant and Shannon introduces him to his half-brother Jacob and his three sisters, Gene's reaction is as real as it gets. As the show progressed, his sisters begin crying as they observe him walking and talking...they keep seeing how strongly he resembles his Father in mannerisms and posture and facial expressions.
Gene is also blown away by how much his half-sibling's children resemble his own children when they were kids.
At this point, I'm totally absorbed in the show as compelling drama I can't tear my eyes from the screen.
But the heart-wrenching scene that inspired a few tears came when they all went to the cemetery where Gene's Father was buried.
It was very apparent that Gene was overcome when he realized where they were going when they arrived at the entrance. Shannon and his new-found siblings nearly had to drag him into the cemetery. When they arrived at their Father's grave, Gene's brother Jacob pulled out a letter that their Father had written, addressed to Gene, but never mailed or even completed it, and and read it to him aloud.
Gene Simmons utterly broke down.
After reading the letter to him, Shannon asks the entire entourage to give Gene a few moments alone at the graveside. Of course, the cameras backed off to a distance but continued to record, and the audio was still able to pick up Gene's lamentations and sorrow.
I cannot believe he would allow such footage to be broadcast on a worldwide TV show for such an utterly personal moment like that. There is absolutely no way the reactions or dialog could have been scripted or planned out. Perhaps the producers and such planned out the set up, knowing his reactions would be genuine and make for compelling TV.
If so, they were right.
If Gene has some desire to prove he's honest and doesn't care who sees him at his moments of greatest weakness, he certainly did so here.
Or...he knows that it's ratings gold and it's all about the money, and there is no place he won't go to whore out his personal traumas for the almighty dollar.
Probably a bit of both.
As it turns out, Gene discovers that in fact his Father didn't abandon him, his Mother took him and they left HIM to come to America. The show didn't go into much details about the split, but it was clear that Gene realized that decades of resentment for abandonment by his Father was ill-placed.
This show got to me.
It shows just how profound Fatherhood has in the life of a child and the life of a family. As a new Father myself, it brought home the realization of how much of a responsibility I have, and what role I will play in another person's life...whether I'm there or not.
In the end, we are all going to die. Money, fortune, fame...how much you get laid, or what degree of career success you achieve - it's all meaningless when you reach your final resting place and your flesh rots from your bones in your moldering grave.
The only way you achieve any real impact on this world, is by creating a family and perpetuating the cycle of life for your genealogy to carry on your bloodline.
In my view, most things in this world have no meaning other than family.
Fatherhood is a path that can lead to great heartache and pain...so much so, that some even find it better to burn himself alive in protest than continue to live with the loss and alienation of his children by the family-destroying State.
Back in my days of being a neo-con kool aid drinker, I used to listen to right wing talk radio all day long while I was at work, including the Dr. Laura show. There is really only one thing I ever really took from her show that has stuck with me all these years.
To paraphrase her: "We get two chances at family in this life. The one we are born into and have no control over, and the one we make for ourselves. The one you are born into may be screwed up, but the beautiful thing is you get your own chance to make it right for yourself."
Dannyfrom504 recently asked me if I thought marriage was worth it. I cannot recommend marriage and having kids to anyone. Every man has to make a calculated judgement of the risk versus the reward for himself. He must judge for himself if the woman he contemplates procreating with is a high-risk or low-risk gamble.
We all know of the great inherent risk it takes to get married and have children in today's Brave New World Order. The potential for great personal devastation is a very real possibility. But if you manage to make it turn out right...well, from my own perspective, there is no greater accomplishment or joy in this life.
To each his own.
Upon re-reading this post, I realized there was something I wanted to add here - Gene Simmons is one of the most successful musicians in the history of Rock and Roll. He's purportedly slept with over 4000 women, is a multi-millionaire, lives in a mansion and has a former playboy playmate as the mother of his two children and is basically the epitome of secular, hedonistic success.
But none of that was able to fill the void in his life from having missed out on a good relationship with his Father.
Happiness can't be bought. Nor can it be reached through career success and financial success nor fame.
As TGP puts it in the comments:
Take it from an old wise man, family is the whole goddamn thing.
Not game. Not getting laid. Not self improvement. Not travel. Not parties. Not fun. Not fame. Not wealth. Those things only mean something when they are used in the context of and in support of your family relationships.
Find a woman who wants to have kids as much as you do, who makes that the number one central driving force of her life. Marry her. Start knocking kids out. You will be happy. Fuck all the other bullshit.
I think the point of what commenter TGP is getting at here is the lesson Gene Simmons learned when he reconnected with his family and learned the truth of his Father. He discovered too late that it did not match the caricature of a deadbeat that he had developed in his mind...but it did allow him to figure some things out. One of the most heart rendering things he said when he was left alone at the gravesite was his lament: "I am a good Father! I am a good Father!"
Obviously he sought to spare his own children the sense of abandonment he experienced growing up...and it shows in his relationship with his children. Even thought the reality show is most likely scripted, the genuine love and respect for the Simmons/Tweed family has for one another is obviously authentic.
Family...if you get it right, nothing else matters.