The Other “F” Word

Title: The Other “F” Word
Rating: 4/5
Genre: Documentary
Starring: Jim Lindberg, Flea, Fat Mike
Director: Andrea Blaugrund Nevins

“When we were younger, we were all nihilistic. Live for today. Live fast. I thought we were going to change the world. Maybe the way we change the world is by raising better kids.”
Mike Freeman, Rancid

This film was first billed to me as about “how punks make better parents because they have more worldly experience,” and I was sold. I was short sighted in thinking this would make a good film; a biased documentary ignoring fundamental difficulties faced by any parent, let alone one that spent their youth heavily involved in an anarchistic, nihilistic movement; no this is better than that. When punk exploded in L.A. it was a rebellion; a movement that ran far deeper than just the music. Divorce rates were at an all time high, Nixon was just involved in the Watergate scandal and fathers were dying in the Vietnam war, all the whilst the factory buildings in their neighbourhood churned out weapons of war. Absentee parenting lead to an aggression towards the society that harboured it manifesting as an entire generation of non-conformity fighting to change the system. Live fast and die young, no responsibilities and no consequences, just do whatever you want. It's funny how when children enter the equation that all this changes.

For the record I don't think any of those featured in the documentary come across as bad parents, though I admit it's difficult to fully assess through a camera lens all the highs and lows of every day life as much as they try, but that's aside from the point. A better point would be not to pass judgement, especially one from someone such as me; I've not lived through the broken homes, desolate streets and abandonment; the drugs and alcohol abuse and sense of hopelessness they faced. I never lived my life in anything less than a comfortable home, never expecting not to make it past the age of thirty. Who am I to pass judgement on a situation I haven't lived through? This film never points fingers or tuts at the decisions made by the parties involved, rather it shines a light on their attitudes towards parenthood, and the problems their past has on trying to be a good role model. How do you explain a tattoo of a woman in bondage to a four year old? How can you try to curb bad language when your own music is full of it? How can a generation who grew up without a father figure become one themselves?

Not everyone came to the same decision. Reyes (Black Flag) left the scene early on, deciding the lifestyles were entirely incompatible; that forming a career that would provide for his family based upon the music was not going to be feasible, whilst Lindberg (Pennywise), whom the film centres upon, took the decision to try and make a career out of it, a move that would see him have to tour extensively and deliver a whole host of new challenges to deal with. The only constant amongst them all was the affect their own upbringing had on their attitudes towards parenting, and that they would never let them have to go through the same childhood that they did. This is a film that really manages to make you think about how fatherhood changes you, in many cases presented here even saved them from the nihilistic and self-destructive path that had claimed so many of their friends, though still resonates with wisdom whether you were a part of the punk movement or not; how you would want to raise your children, the attitudes you would want to instil in them, the balances and changes you would have to make – would want to make – to be there for them, and how well you would accomplish all that. Sometimes moving, sometimes amusing, but always interesting, “The Other F Word” is an inspiring documentary about making a better future by not repeating the mistakes of the past.


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