The Netflix Days: Kill Your Idols

One of the best things about being a college student who lives near campus again is that (a) companies think/hope that you have access to money you don’t deserve and (b) don’t mind wasting it and they (c) know exactly where to find you in order to lure you into spending all of your magic plastic card/discretionary money.  The most recent company trying to woo me right now is netflix who was kind enough to send me free trial promotion code.  This isn’t that remarkable (I found out anyone can try the service free just by visiting their site) but it is a revolutionary idea to me.  For this month I can not only watch hard to find movies that ultra foxy film student girls tell me to check out but I also have access to a ton of music documentaries that I would have never found in a rental store and some i didn’t even know existed.  The past week or so has also taught me that the U.S. Postal Service can haul ass when it wants to.  Netflix has one built in caveat though, the service can only be as good as the movies you choose to watch.  I have come to call this the Kill Your Idols Fallacy.

When Kill Your Idols popped up on my recommendations list I for some reason (perhaps it was the damn title) thought that this must have been the Sonic Youth affiliated documentary project that I’d heard about a while back.  I wasn’t right but I actually wasn’t all that wrong either as Thurston Moore did pop up eventually.  Scott Crary’s Kill Your Idols has an interesting premise at its core; present the original cast of the No Wave scene in New York and put them up next to New York’s current post-punk avant scene and see how it stacks up.  That’s why it pains me to say that this was one of the most tedious documentary experiences I’ve ever experienced (and it was actually on a subject I care about, unlike say a Murderball or that movie I saw in class back in the day on lizards in the desert)

I wouldn’t say that I knew alot going in to this film about no-wave but I still somehow managed to learn almost nothing.  The value of most documentaries like this is that they introduce people to a relatively comprehensive look at the very core of a movement to build up a background of the scene and bands that they can explore afterwards.  In this case I figured out that I should definitely have known about DNA and Foetus and tried to fix this hole in my library.  The documentary should also give you a sense of the time or community and make you feel like you understand where its coming from and who’s involved at their very best the audience feels like they’re vicariously involved in something special but at the very least we should feel that we are witnessing something or someone important.  All the old guard agreed that they were involved in something important but I never really got a sense of why.  The movie skipped across the surface of most interviews without delving in.  There were some anecdotes here and there that tried to make the players relatable but mostly I just ended up being happy that I didn’t lose my virginity to Lydia Lunch.

Fast forward to current day bands like The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, Liars, Black Dice, Gogol Bordello, and one of the dudes from A.R.E Weapons and you get a picture painted for you of fashion oriented, safe, derivative music by both no-wave pioneers and current bands alike.  There’s a part where everyone is bashing all the other bands, some of whom are in the film that’s pretty funny but also very discouraging.  Lydia Lunch has a gem where she says that the most boring thing a band can do is use guitar, bass and drums and she says that they should pick up anything, a saxophone, whatever, instead of the classic rock band set up.  I’d say that there is some truth in that but I really don’t think conventional instruments are completely tapped of their potential and picking up extra instruments certainly won’t save every band out there.  Even semi descent ones sound kind of like novelty acts and most can’t evolve their sound and stay relevant past the first album than any other band.  There is a problem with safe music and an musical environment where commercial success is so close at hand for most bands that they don’t have the freedom that comes with outside dis-interest but having unbearable douches like the guy from A.R.E Weapons (I don’t even want to rewatch his segments to learn his name) complain about everything that’s wrong with the scene that he seems to be embodying even as the words come out of his mouth is not the answer.

Additional notes.

I like the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s but I was kind of sad that I can put speaking voices to them now because they lost a little of their mystique.  I liked being intimidated by Karen O.

Where the fuck was Eno?

I really really really hate A.R.E. Weapons

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One Response to The Netflix Days: Kill Your Idols

  1. boldray says:

    I didn’t find the film as boring as you but I think more about the socio-politcical backdrop to No Wave scene should have been included – these movements don’t start in a vacuum.

    I’m with you absolutely in hating A.R.E.Weapons though!

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