It’s Not About KISS, It’s About Support: Vicki Shae’s Take on #BanGene

/ Power 97 - Winnipeg's Best Rock

I’ve been on vacation this week so I wasn’t there when Power97 made it’s decision to ban the music of KISS as a show of solidarity to the mental health community but I applaud my co-host TJ Connors and the station for doing it. (I know you’re now thinking “Surprise, surprise” but hear me out)

(In case you didn’t know) The whole thing is in response to Gene Simmons basically saying that people who call themselves depressed should kill themselves. His reasoning being that it’s a cry for attention and a sign of weakness. His comments were made before Robin William’s suicide, but the Internet knows no expiry date. After reading all the articles and all the Facebook comments, I felt compelled to respond to those who are against the ban. It hasn’t been put in place to say “F*$% you Gene Simmons!”. It is something that I hope will be seen as a bigger message. One of support for those with depression.

To those who say: Boys will be boys (or famous people will be famous people)

The argument here: “If we banned every musician who said something stupid or offensive, there wouldn’t be any music left”. Not entirely true but I understand the spirit of the point. Looking on Power97′s music roster, there are a few people on the list who’ve had unsavory pasts. Rock music is an animal unlike most other genres. But with mental health being at the forefront of people’s minds with the recent suicide of Robin Williams, I think we have a responsiblity as a voice in our community to let people suffering know that we’re on their side. As a rock station, we may joke around and play closer to the edge than others but we are also a collection of people with hearts. What good is playing music if you don’t support the people who listen to it?

To those who say: He has a right to freedom of speech

Everytime I see a comment board I think: We have freedom of speech and this is what we’re doing with it? I think we’re using it wrong. Typing “GAAAYYYYY” under a youtube video? How enlightened! It’s a case of too many people typing faster than they’re thinking. With the Internet, we’ve never been more connected to eachother and yet, we’ve never been more disconnected with basic human empathy. Maybe that’s a drastic statement because I do like to think that the good people outweigh the hateful. The hateful just have louder megaphones and a greater need for CAPS LOCK. Through his success, Gene Simmons has been given a loud megaphone and he chose to use it to make a blanket statement. We can speak our minds, but let’s encourage people to use their minds before they speak.

To those who say: Gene’s comments were taken out of context

The arguement here is that when he made these comments, he referenced his mother, a Holocost survivor. Someone who overcame such an unthinkable experience and still smiles and finds joy in life. First off, there is no question that that is admirable, brave and a testiment to the human spirit and it’s ability to move forward. Even for someone who’s brain chemicals are in good working order, that is a monstrous feat. However, not everyone’s brain can withstand what is thrown at it. Depression is not a choice. Can it be helped? Absolutely! But only with professional treatment and we can’t shame those who are dealing with this illness or they’ll never go out to find it. Much respect and love to Gene’s mother but the success of survivors of tragic circumstances does not discredit what we’ve learned about the biology of mental illness. Apples and oranges.

I don’t think Gene Simmons would ever go up to someone who just lost a loved one to suicide and say: “They’re better off. Clearly they couldn’t hack this whole life thing”. I think a lot of us are big talkers. We are all guilty of it at some point in our lives. We make grand statements about something we have a grand opinion about and then we are faced with an exception to our rule. As I write this, I see that Gene is back peddling on his comments. If there is one thing I want to stress the most here, it’s this: This ban is not about torches and pitchforks, it’s a way to champion those people who are hurting. We’re behind you and there is always a better way.


If you or someone you know needs help with depression, Call 1-888-322-3019


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