Remember for the Camera

May 12, 2014

I watched an interesting documentary on Netflix last night.  Titled “The Other F Word,” it detailed the lives of several punk rockers who have become fathers in their later years. It showed several compelling perspectives and was well done overall, though I feel the filmmakers missed an opportunity to fully explore the story of Jim Lindberg, the lead singer of Pennywise who literally chose fatherhood over his band while cameras were rolling.

But what also struck me was the dilemma that must occur with many documentaries, when the captured material doesn’t fit nicely into the preconceived premise of the filmmakers. After all, Art Alexakis of Everclear should hardly be considered a punk rocker, but he’s known for having a troubled childhood and the film seizes the opportunity to shine light on his story, even going as far as staging a very pointed acoustic performance of his song “Father of Mine.” That it serves the documentarian’s point about abandoned or abused sons becoming good fathers is obviously more important than the fact that a significant theme of the film is the attitudes of the punk rock scene that Alexakis is/was not a part of. But why the filmmakers also felt the need to add clean cut pro skateboarder Tony Hawk to the mix defies explanation.

Another bad inclusion was the childhood described by Mark Hoppus of Blink 182. In a segment dedicated to how bad the punk rockers’ fathers were, Hoppus talked about how, as a child, he was free to play outside with his friends, and told to “come home when the street lights turn on.” I’ve heard similar stories from other people, especially from older generations, but it was always told with a sense of nostalgia, pointing out that in the past, kids were encouraged to go outside and play, not stay inside and play video games. I suppose, through the eyes of today’s millennial helicopter parents, Hoppus’ youthful freedom could be viewed as neglectful parenting, since Hoppus suggests that he was prone to get into trouble, but to my ears it strikes a note of filmmakers desperate to grab another example of bad parenting where none exists.

In a different setting, ask Mark Hoppus how his upbringing led to him to become a world famous rock star, and I suspect he would relay the same story, but use it as a positive example of how having the freedom to stir up a little trouble encouraged him to strike out and start his own rock band. It’s hard to imagine that that sort of parenting wouldn’t be celebrated as what helps create the next generation of creatives, especially in a film about unconventional fathers.