THE OTHER F WORD
Friendly Rating: Some young punk rock fans might enjoy this, but this is really for the parents
Safety Rating: The full complement of dirty words, screamed and celebrated and hushed up for the young ‘uns
Quality Rating: Not the fastest moving film on the planet. Great punk score and some deeply moving moments
Documentary film premieres tonight on Showtime at 9 p.m. (and probably repeats).
There’s something wonderfully anarchic and soothing about the juxtaposition of a man screaming the original F-word at a crowd of adoring fans, then busting his daughter’s chops for murmuring “turdhead” at her sister. But such is the life of Jim Lindberg, former lead singer of the skate-punk band Pennywise, as shown in The Other F Word. The doc looks at fatherhood from the perspective of some of the last guys you’d think would be keyed into being dads – and trying to be good ones.
It’s kind of sad how many of these guys came from truly dysfunctional, abusive pasts (although that probably explains why they gravitated to the angry, anarchic sound of punk rock). But the moving thing is that so many of them want to move past the negative role models they had as kids and be the great dads they wish they’d had.
But wait, there’s more to this lovely little doc. It’s also a history of the punk rock scene and a look at the music business today and what it’s becoming in the digital age, where so much of the recorded music is available free, which makes it so very interesting on a lot of different levels.
It is long, though, so some of your teens might get the squirmies, unless they’re punk geeks. And the language is basically un-censored, but the fun thing is that they do deal with the irony of being in the business of swearing and not wanting your kid to. Mostly, though, the film is about being a dad in this day and age and being one whose job takes him on the road for a major chunk of the year.
And while it’s crazy funny to see Everclear’s Art Alexakis singing “The Wheels on the Bus” to his daughter in the back seat of their van, what impressed me the most was the way so many of these guys talked about not carrying on the legacy of abuse and anger that they’d been given by their parents. Abuse and anger are not the inevitable results of an abused childhood. It may make things harder – Alexakis talks about having to go to anger management to avoid screaming around the house. But it’s not a gimme.
Ultimately, however, I think the most important message of the film is that today’s dads want to step up. They want to be the worthy caretakers of their children. They may not all do it in the same way, but they’re hardly the hapless, clueless, incompetent idiots we see on TV. They’re caring. They are competent, and it’s about time someone noticed.