Kill Your Idols

For those about to rock: Do not watch 'Rock School'

"Do you love rock?"

Shrug.

"Do you love DIO?" (DIO?!)

Shrug.

"Do you love Satan?"

Shrug.

 

I feel ya, kid. I shrugged my way twice through Rock School--once because I'd been asked to write about it, the second to see if I'd missed anything. I hadn't. The movie has none of the astonishing moments that pop up in documentaries such as Hoop Dreams or The Yes Men or even Dig! I'm sure it's an entertaining home video for both Green and filmmaker Don Argott, but for the viewer there is no payoff. This is because the dream--of playing a Zappa festival in Germany in front of a bunch of punk-never-happened hippies--is nothing short of grotesque. It's a forced sort of Mr. Holland's Opus climax that Zappa himself would barf at.

In the end, Rock School exemplifies so much of what is happening with so much culture now: a documentary that looks like a documentary, rock that sounds like rock, school that feels like school. Yet none are the genuine article.

If rock is freedom, then unwittingly, Rock School itself is anti-rock. Green screams at the kids to do it his way and bullies his taste on them. Their only goal is to play covers, and creativity and songwriting aren't addressed. He's a good guitarist and a good guitar teacher, but rock is about more than chops, and it sure as hell is not about "sophistication," a word that gets invoked by both students and teacher like it matters. There's plenty of time to learn instruments and craft, but that moment of adolescence when music is ingested whole and experimented with comes only once. To watch Green corrupt it with such certitude is creepy.

Jim Walsh can be reached at 612.372.3775 or jwalsh@citypages.com.

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