Watching your idols grow up can be a scary yet fascinating experience. The celebrities of the 80s and 90s have become the parents today, though on the surface, they’re still the same free spirit we fell in love with as teenagers. The Other F Word explores the grown-up world of punk rock, featuring a slew of aging rock stars who are now living double lives between the stage and fatherhood.
American punk rock was based on the “f–k authority” attitude, back when violence and divorce rates were high and many kids, especially in Los Angeles, felt that their lives were falling apart. If you asked the punks of yesterday what they saw as their future, you could bet that none of them had families and children in mind. Fast forward to today, and many of them got married, had kids and are still touring with their bands, keeping the illusion alive while worrying about what life is like back home.
The Other F Word especially follows Jim Lindberg of Pennywise on over 200 days on tour, as he eventually make a life-changing decision to spend more time with his family. Immediately, the film depicts his disconnect with the punk life he used to live, longing more and more as to be home as he counts the days on the road, with his bandmates pressuring him to keep on.
While Lindberg feels his performances seem false, other rock star dads showcase their own ways of balancing family with the road. Commentary from artists like Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers, pro-skater Tony Hawk, Mark Hoppus of Blink-182 and Fat Mike of NOFX provide alternate looks into different parenting techniques, but all the stories remain the same: nobody thought their lives would lead to fatherhood. On the positive side, Hoppus explains, the expectation of them as parents was practically nonexistent. On the other side, however, it becomes apparent that being an “authority figure” doesn’t come easily, especially when the kids know the past.
Many scenes in the documentary are hilarious and interesting. The family lives of each of the men differ dramatically—Fat Mike is probably the most lax of his peers in parenting, bringing his daughter into his lifestyle versus trying to conform to “normal” society. And while most of the men really don’t conform to “normal” lives, it’s easy to see that some prefer a structured home life more than others.
Then there’s the looming issue of the music industry, which plays a large role in Lindberg’s story. Filmed at a time when Pennywise dropped their independent label, Epitaph, and moved on to be backed by corporate giant MySpace, The Other F Word also depicts the fall of punk as it was and hints at the branding of band who never even expected to live beyond their 30s, yet alone have to juggle a music career with a home life. For Lindberg, the pull of his family outweighs that of his bandmates and the industry’s pressures for him to stay on the road—a school dance or piano recital ultimately wins out over the business, it seems.
The Other F Word is, as the introduction claims, a “coming of middle age story.” The film is a humanizing look at the a softer side of rock stars just as it is a story of trying to keep the dream alive, long after the dream was expected to die. The big story, however, lies in the fact that many of these men have made a point to be the best father they can be. Coming from a sub-culture based on hard times, it’s good to see that many of these men have learned to raise their kids right and are trying to not make their fathers’ mistakes. The Other F Word is a heartwarming film about family that still keeps the spirit of punk alive—it just matured a little bit.
This article was originally published on AllMediaNy.com