The Other F Word is, at heart, a story about two opposing worlds. Punk rock is about “fuck you!” and opposing authority. What’s a punk to do when he becomes a dad — and thus — authority?
Interestingly enough, I was watching The Other F Word while trying to make sure dishes were washed and teeth brushed. The film, directed by Andrea Blaugrund and playing in theaters now (Friday through Sunday at Kansas City’s Screenland Crossroads) certainly brought the message home that it’s goddamn difficult to balance being creative and being a dad.
For musicians, it’s even more of a balancing act. You’re simultaneously a father to your own kids, as well as all these kids to whom you’re playing every night. Do you disappoint the fans who want to see you and the bandmates who need you financially, or do you miss out on the important moments from your kid’s life – first day of school, Halloween, plays?
Pennywise frontman Jim Lindberg (at the time – he’s now singing for SideOne Dummy’s The Black Pacific) is father to three young girls who like Barbies, butterflies, and unicorns. He has to reconcile this aspect of his existence, wherein he’s making sure baths are taken, with his life as a man who sings a song called “Fuck Authority.”
“You become Ward Cleaver, and Ward Cleaver’s a prick.” – Duane Peters of U.S. Bombs
The fact that all the men interviewed in the film grew up with either no fathers or fathers with whom they were always at odds gives The Other F Word its thrust. These guys were attracted to punk rock because of the family it offered. Now they’ve got a family. What do they do? Regular dad stuff, evidently. Watching Fat Mike from NOFX make breakfast for his daughter might be the funniest thing the man’s ever done. There are also charming scenes of the various interviewees playing music with their offspring, intercut with them onstage, losing their minds.
“Oh, shit. Should I have tattooed my forehead?” - Lars Frederikson of Rancid
Lars actually has the best point of anyone in the film. He says that you don’t want to do anything that inhibits your child’s progression in life, because that’s the most important thing in your life.
In other words, you can still balk at authority and rage against the machine, but you have to remember there’s somebody to whom you matter. Lindberg brings up the fact that you have to be a model citizen to your kids, when you’re most certainly not that — essentially, you become part of the system to feed, clothe, and house your kids.
What would’ve been nice was to have heard from the wives and moms, to offer some sort of counterpoint. A few kids are interviewed, and there’s a certain sense of dismay at not having their dads around — and, for whatever reason, they’re all daughters. You wonder at these guys with no father figures raising young women.
The Other F Word also just goes on and on. It’s an hour and 40 minutes, but could easily have been 15 minutes shorter. The whole punk-rock history is pretty unnecessary, as is this ethical discussion regarding selling out or buying in.
A tighter edit, wherein it’s just dads and their music versus dads doing dad stuff, and how those two things have to work together would’ve made for a much more engaging film.