Kill Your Idols: A Lesson in Elitism

Strolling through Netflix I came across this documentary and decided to give it a quick look considering it spouts Yeah Yeah Yeahs on the poster, and I happen to love them.

I was pretty disappointed in the film, honestly, and I should have known better as I’m usually disappointed with almost every single music documentary I’ve ever seen. I think the clip from Futurama adequately sums up the vibe of the film very well.

Basically, it was a film in which old rock-n-rollers, who don’t want to be called rock-n-rollers, bash bands because they have more talent than they did; Insult them for being sell outs in being successful; criticize our generation for being less original than they were; and have the bands inter-insult one another: “Yeah yeah who?” Says one burnout who utters “fuck” every second word.

But don’t they see the irony in these kinds of statements? Every single generation feels they are the ultimate culmination of all that came before them and that could ever come after them. Hence the old stereotype of parents wanting their children to “turn down that racket”. These old “originals” can’t seem to understand that they’ve essentially turned into the thing they were initially rebelling against. And if there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s hypocrisy.

These are people, from bands essentially wiped from human memory because of their anit-everything stance, including how to actually PLAY instruments. From where I stand, these 1970’s no-wave pioneers have absolutely no say in their criticism of music. Sure their stance was undoubtably original, and it hasn’t been done since, because now people actually take the time to learn how to play music, for enjoyment and entertainment. This kind of political-socio-eco-cultural art wave of music can only go so far. It literally has a limit before it even starts. It’s like those movies you see in art galleries: Where you only need to see about 30 seconds before you get the gist and understand the general message.

They problem with music documentaries is that they’re always from a moment, a small wave of people and a scene in which “you had to have been there to understand”. Its a veiled elitism. And they don’t even realize they’re doing it.

The critisim from both past and present performers was on a general restlessness of society. But what I find insulting is this idea of the masses as a faceless, social blob of zombies that have absolutely no thoughts for themselves. I don’t listen to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs or any music for that fact because an advertisement, or a magazine told me to. I listen to music based on an aesthetic quality. Is that so bad?

Even for people who listen to Lady Gaga, Rhiana and other pop music performers, what is the problem? Sure much mainstream culture is spoon-fed consumerism which I think is where their argument should have been aimed at rather than neo-art-punks, but at the same time, that music is still designed to be aesthetically and widely pleasing.

What this documentary did was essentially destroy the idea of music for enjoyment. Music for escapism. Music for fun and dance. Because aparently such engagement with music is wrong.

I think Gogol Bordello said it best though in the film in that, the new generation is going towards a new nihilism, a happy nihilism. I prefer that vision a lot more than just assuming everyone is a zombie, eating the brains of corporate manipulation.