A couple weeks ago, my mom took me to see the screening of The Other F Word. This movie summarizes what it's like to be in a punk rock band and then transition into being an adult and having to raise children. Everyone in the film talked about their childhood and what it was like to be a teenager in the 70's and 80's.
Culturally, there were a lot of differences. The sense of how to be a good parent was much looser. So many kids ran away in their teenage years and found ways to support themselves. Society today has made it almost impossible to drop out of high school and support yourself without going to college. This is not to say that kids don't drop out now -- you hear about it all the time. I personally don't have any friends who have dropped out, or even considered it. It's so looked down upon now. Back then it was more acceptable, whereas now you might as well abandon any thoughts of succeeding. Music plays a big part of how we view our teenage years and today it's mostly love songs that you hear on the radio. The kind of music bands were writing then emphasized the carelessness of their time.
As I'm writing this, a song by Pennywise comes on shuffle and talks about how authority is corrupt and unfair. I think this is what most teenagers feel to be true. At least I know I do. It's like this -- we are old enough to know what's going on, but we can't change it. We are still held under restraints and rules that promote authority figures.
Music is still a huge part of culture today, but not in the same way that it was. The same feelings are still there for fans, but the writing has changed. The argument "punk is dead" is a valid one for this movie. Not only do I believe that real punk is dead, but the lyrics have changed. There used to be so many songs about how much damage parents and authority figures inflict on us as teenagers, but the lyrics in those songs have changed. Take Blink-182, for instance. An old song of theirs, "Anthem," is about sneaking around because what we do as teenagers is frowned upon, but the reason we do those things is because of our parents. Now they have songs about regretting those things. Take the song "Up All Night" from their new album. The lyrics are about partying, and then the regret and recklessness from the night before sets in -- "All these demons, they keep me up all night." To me, this is saying we messed around and had fun but now everyone is just filled with remorse. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Blink-182 has become a sell-out band or anything like that. They are, in fact, one of my favorite bands ever. I'm just saying that everything changes whether we like it or not. The lifestyle now is so different than how it used to be.
Art Alexakis talked about his childhood and how he grew up without his dad, trying to take care of his family and playing the father figure at 10 years old. He grew up without a lot of money, and something is to be said about what kind of a father he is now. From the film, you get the sense that he really is a good dad and he's trying his hardest. So many guys from the movie said that if they could go back, they would want their dads to have the father skills they developed.
You can argue that on the one side, you want them to keep writing about how much authority sucks, but then you have to think about where their inspiration was when writing that. There really isn't any. Those bands aren't teenage bands anymore. They have grown and the experiences and feelings that they wrote about are no longer there. That is where fatherhood comes in and the feelings of angst are replaced by what's best for the kids. What most of the bands expressed in this movie is that instead of being against society, they have become it, and they have kids now to worry about. This is a much different mindset than they had before, and you can't expect musicians to write the same music they did when they were teenagers.