A few years back, a Screeching Weasel-obsessed friend of mine dragged me to see the Methadones. It was a sparsely crowded pop-punk show in a venue much too big for pop punk, and on stage were these middle-aged dudes doing the same thing they’d been doing for 15-20 years, now for people so much younger than them, and they seemed demure, a bit weary. And I thought to myself, “We can’t all be cool forever.” These guys were adults, probably married, or divorced, or maybe neither. And instead of being home with their families, here they were on a stage at a booze-fueled festival.
What exactly happens when punks get old? The Other F Word, a documentary by Andrea Blaugrund Nevins, explores a very specific facet of aging and what occurs when men with forehead tattoos and their own daddy issues procreate. Nevins focuses on Jim Lindberg, the (former) lead singer of Pennywise and father of three little girls. Throughout the film, which is peppered with interviews with dads like Tim McIlrath (Rise Against), Ron Reyes (pre-Henry Rollins Black Flag), and Tony Hawk, Lindberg struggles with his love for his two families: the biological one, who miss their father and husband, and his band, who think touring more than 200 days out of a year isn’t enough. Viewers will have to immediately look past some of the MTV doc-style production values to get to the heart of the matter here. At times, song lyrics bounce across the screen, and flames shoot out to symbolize the “bomb dropping” when the Ramones broke through in the 1970s, and Art Alexis’ acoustic performance of “Father of Mine” is a little on the nose. It’s all a bit cheesy and unnecessary, but once the personal interviews about fatherhood (the other F word) start rolling along, the film shines.
You feel for Lindberg as he unsuccessfully Skypes with his family and spends his birthday on the road without them. It’s touching to watch these hardened men gushing and fawning over their children, from Fat Mike (NOFX, founder of Fat Wreck Chords) waking his daughter in her nauseatingly pink bedroom to Lars Frederiksen trailing his little boy around a San Francisco playground. Most didn’t have the best childhoods, which is what led them to the punk subculture in the first place, and that’s defined their own approaches to parenting: They don’t want their kids to go through what they did. And when you watch Flea tear up in front of his refined and smiling daughter or hear Blink 182’s Mark Hoppus soberly explain that having kids is the most amazing thing you could ever do, you forget that these guys are punks or even celebrities and start seeing them as human beings.
There are some draggy parts to The Other F Word. The first 15 minutes or so go over the early history of the California punk scene, which I suspect most people immediately interested in seeing this film are already well aware of, but it does at least present the dichotomy of men who were against all authority (punk band pun intended) now acting as authoritative figures. There’s also a lengthy tangent on selling out. While we’re meant to understand that DIY dads have to make anti-DIY choices to put food on the table, and that priorities shift, the point is hammered in harder than it needs to be.
The Other F Word may draw immediate comparisons to 2006’s American Hardcore, which documented the first five years of the scene that these men came from. Both films share a few of the same characters, but the similarities are very brief. That was then. This is now.
The Greater Park Circle Film Society presents The Other F Word on Feb. 4 at 8 p.m. at the Olde North Charleston Picture House (4820 Jenkins Ave.) Tickets are $2 for members and $5 for non-members. Visit parkcirclefilms.org for more.