I had the pleasure of watching a screener for "The Other F-Word" last night. The film is a documentary following a variety of "punk rock dads" (from bands like Rancid, Pennywise, Nofx, Blink182, Black Flag, Bad Religion, The Adolescents, etc.) as they discuss the transition from "fuck authority" rebellion ... to the new stage of fatherhood. How do the fathers, many of which had absentee fathers themselves growing up, deal with the hardships of trying to raise a family while still being on tour, recording, and putting forth a "punk" persona?
That's the question this film tries to answer.
Starting with a brief history of "punk" and the ethos behind it ... we then move toward the main event: the fathers themselves. Much of the film is focused on interviews with the dads and how they have handled this new stage of their life.
A lot of the film focuses on the lead singer of Pennywise and what ends up being, I believe, his last tour. You see him leave for tour, all of the events with his kids he's missing, the failed skype calls, the attempts to make it home for the 'father daughter dance' -- and the eventual decision for Jim to leave the band. By the end - there shouldn't be a single person who begrudges Jim for his choice. It's the right one. And it's admirable. As a teenager, Pennywise was one of the first bands I started listening to -- and these scenes were some of my favorites from the entire film.
The film is shot in a traditional documentary style. Very little, if any, narration. They let the subjects speak - and their words tell the story. It can be funny at times. Like when Lars from Rancid clears out a playground by showing up in tats and dyed hair. Or when Mark Hoppus from Blink-182 explains that after doing what he's done in his band and on stage for the past few years, that the bar for him as a father could not be lower. Or when Fat Mike takes his daughter to private school. These are moments when you smile -- you see behind the curtain and view what it is like on a day to day basis.
And yet, there's the other side of being a father. Trying to reconcile your own rebellious nature, and how do you act as an authority figure when you've spent your life hating virtually anything related to authority?
There are some very insightful interviews from Flea (RHCP), Brett (Bad Religion), and Tim (Rise Against) that, for me, left me truly thinking about the responsibility of parenthood. There's a moment where Flea breaks down while talking about missing parts of his daughter's life, juxtaposed with Tim from Rise Against taking his daughter to school that is truly emotional.
While the film may have ran a tad long, at a little over an hour and a half, I was completely enthralled through the entire thing. These are artists I grew up listening to. I loved. I respected. I emulated. And as I, myself, continue to get older - this is yet another phase of life where I am looking at others and seeing how they handled the transitions and new challenges. It was extremely interesting to see a side of all of these musicians I don't think many have seen or even imagine. The loud, jarring, angsty music contrasts so delicately with the gentle touch needed in raising children.
I definitely recommend that any fan of this kind of music check this film out if you get the chance. I would even recommend it to casual music fans - it's the kind of film that bridges the gap well; touching on many common themes in everyone's life. I've always thought that a good documentary makes you think, educates you, and leaves you with a refreshed outlook on a particular subject. This one hits it all.
Screening dates can be found here, the trailer is here, the official website here.