Why Punk Rockers Make Great Parents
This fall, an exciting documentary is hitting movie theaters. It's called The Other F Word, and it's about punk rock; it's about family; and it's about a plethora of life's awkward questions including: "Should I have tattooed my forehead?" and "Daddy, what's a dominatrix?" It features NOFX's Fat Mike, Jim Lindberg from Pennywise, TSOL's Jack Grisham, Rancid's Lars Frederiksen, Rise Against's Tim McIlrath and a host of others, and was produced by Morgan Spurlock (y'know, the Supersize Me guy). You can see the trailer for it here.
It's noted in the trailer that "There's nothing in the punk rock ethos that prepares you for being a dad." But, actually, we'd like to respectfully disagree. Because we think that a life spent submerged in punk rock is the best training any human could hope for when it comes to raising a child. As anyone who has ever lived in a punk house, or squatted, will tell you, you will never find a more practical human being on earth than a punk -- they're good at eating on a budget, they're good at making clothes last three times longer than they should, and, by God, they can fix anything and everything, often using only regular household objects and a bit of creativity (think of them as stinkier MacGyvers). Just imagine what these people are capable of once their band has been successful and they've got some money in their pockets!
On his last spoken word tour through San Francisco earlier this year, Henry Rollins very wisely noted that punks make the best parents because they raise kids to think outside the box, to question everything they're told, to understand the impact of politics on their lives, and, above all, to be open-minded. The children of punks -- even if they go on to have no interest in the genre/ lifestyle whatsoever -- are unlikely to beat up another kid at school for being weird, and they are probably less likely to discriminate against others.
What's more, kids of punk rockers aren't going to get beaten up or bullied in school, either. Think about it: would you mess with a kid who had Lars Frederiksen for a dad? Oh, hell no! We saw him in the produce section of Safeway on Market Street once, and, trust us, when he's placed in an entirely bland, suburban setting, he looks kinda scary. (Yes, Lars, it is the forehead tattoo.) Imagine him in a PTA meeting!
In addition, punk rock parents, without a doubt, have all witnessed some crazy shit. They didn't go from suburban homes to fancy colleges to office jobs and then back to suburbia. These people may end up in the suburbs sometimes, sure, but they've probably earned a bit of peace and quiet. Drugs, violence, death, lunacy, chaos ... it's all been-there-done-that for the seasoned punk rocker. So think of the wealth of advice they have to pass onto their offspring! So much more than responsible folk who've never done drugs, or gone to the bad part of town, or been in a fight, or woken up with a tattoo they don't remember getting. These are not parents who can sugarcoat the answers they give to their children's questions -- or avoid them -- because their experiences are literally written all over them.
If all parents were punks, the world might be a more tolerant, honest and wise place. Kids would probably rebel less (there'd be nothing to rebel against), and if fatherhood can prompt sobriety and sobbing from Flea (you think he's boring now, but watch Suburbia ... it's an improvement), think of the transformative powers reproduction can sometimes prompt in otherwise lost souls.
At one time or another, we've interviewed most of the people featured in this documentary, and, for the record, there ain't a stupid one in the bunch (even when they try and pretend that's the case for the sake of public amusement). So we're excited to see this movie, and and we might just pick up some valuable parenting skills from it, too.
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