In last weeks Rock School, the housekeeper hired to look after Gene Simmons in Lowestoft speculated as to how much of an act his rock star persona really was. Certainly, some of the sequences in this weeks episode add more to the discussion as to the Gene Simmons rock star persona on show most of the time, and the Gene Simmons underneath.
What leads me to think that in particular is the way he dealt with one young person in particular, Jedda who he describes at one point as probably the most troubled teenager in the whole class. Despite his concerns, he appoints Jedda to be manager, despite him having missed sessions already, but with the caveat that he will be replaced if he fails to perform. This happens pretty quickly, as when the class is asked to come in for extra practice on a Saturday, the new manager turns up with a raging hangover. Gene shows little sympathy in front of the class, even deliberately making lots of loud noise to get a response. Pretty swiftly Jedda walks out and goes home. However, despite what has been said before, and what has happened with the class, Gene leaves the band practising, and goes to visit Jedda at home. Firstly he discusses the situation with the boys mother and grandparents, and says how much potential he believes that Jedda has. He then gives Jedda another chance!
The second chance goes down like the proverbial lead balloon with the rest of the class. As a result, when a few days later Jedda is again absent, the rest of the class take a vote to replace him as manager, and Gene doesn’t stand in their way.
However that isn’t the end of the story. When Jedda returns to school the next day, we see Gene talking to him one to one, Jedda having found out what has happened, and struggling to keep it together. Despite all the hard man talk, here Gene comes across as particularly sensitive, and primarily concerned that Jedda get the best out of the experience. Gene tells him how much potential he believes he has, and tries to persuade the boy to go in and fight for his position. The impression I very much get is that despite what Jedda has said about wanting the job, in some part he believes that he is not up to it and is going to fail. Therefore almost subconsciously sets out to prove it to himself by messing up, whether that is by drinking too much, failing to turn up or whatever. Some of the other young people express this directly, saying that they see the band as their only chance to make something of themselves.
Gene, with both Jedda and the other young people seems to take that view, that whatever their circumstances they have the potential to succeed. Whilst he is tough on them a lot of the time, ultimately it seems it is because he believes that by channelling their anger and frustration towards the fact that he is never happy with them that will give them the motivation to prove him wrong.
Whilst I enjoyed the first series of the show, series two of Rock School is definitely shaping up to be a lot more interesting, and in terms of Gene’s relationship with the young people, gives an awful lot more to think about. Whilst it could be argued that everything he is doing is to try and ensure the best band possible, to me it seems that he went an awful lot further than someone who was only interested in the band would go. As Beth commented during the first series, whatever has happened since, you can see why it was that he trained as a teacher.