In the first scene of S. A Crary's Kill Your Idols, Martin Rev of Suicide describes mainstream rock in the early 1970s as an escape from reality. To him, bands like The Rolling Stones, with their glamorous image, dramatic outfits and bigger-than-life bravado were a necessary distraction from the increasingly depressing world outside. The Viet Nam War was a constant presence, and Watergate's stunning revelation was yet another blow to the fragile American psyche. Rev and others, however, wanted to deal with the world on its own terms, and to find a way to address the horror and perceived injustice of the lives they lived. Rev expressed his fury through music and he, along with his band Suicide, was one of the first entries into what shortly became known as the No Wave scene, a short-lived punk movement rooted in New York's East Village.
Starting with the founding of Suicide in 1972, Crary's film documents the next two decades in New York punk, with a twin focus on No Wave and the small group of NY punk bands that either made it big or threatened to do so in 2002 (the best known of which are the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Strokes). Despite its narrow focus, Kill Your Idols -- which Crary directed, photographed, and edited -- should appeal to an audience well beyond the punk music niche: In addition to an historical document about the founding of an often over-looked movement, it's also a meditation on artistic creation, and the sources of inspiration.