James Hetfield / Justin Hunt ABSENT

ABSENT is the latest documentary by Justin Hunt. It explores the epidemic of fatherlessness in America. Justin takes a deep and emotion approach to discussing a complex problem - a problem largely ignored. ABSENT punctuates what happens when things get ignored, people get ignored, swept under the carpet, become invisible. ABSENT is not for the faint of heart. I wanted to to go in with no preconceptions. I didn't read what my friends said about previous screenings. I didn't watch the trailers. I wanted to have an open mind.

I made the trek down University Ave from ASU to Central Christian Church in Mesa - Justin Hunt's church. The auditorium sat about 1800 people. I thought it was overkill, but people kept coming in. And more and more followed! By the time the lights went down, the auditorium was 85-90% full. I have sense found out that the auditorium sold out with over 2000 in attendance. Only a small handful in the stock uniform of the Metallica fan - fanclub t-shirt or tour shirt. Oh yeah, Papa Het is in the documentary and attended the screening with a Q&A afterwards.

Having sat thru the movie and pondered a while, the moniker "Papa Het" seems a bit ironic. James Hetfield - father figure to many - had an absent and distant father and readily admits he had a lot of unanswered questions about becoming a MAN. He admits he's felt like a loser and that he was on his own. ABSENT explores his desire to be a better man and a better father to his own children and by default an iconic father figure to the thousands in MetClub and millions more fans around the world.

The movie explores a central theme: The father is the first person to choose or not choose you. You'll always know your mother loves you, but both boys and girls look for validation from their fathers. When children begin asking those critical questions.. Am I worthy? Do I have value? What is my place in life? ... What happens when they get abuse or worse, silence. Justin Hunt doesn't offer any easy answers. He just shows the deleterious impact emotionally unavailable fathers and absent fathers have not only on the children they leave behind, but on the adults they become.

James' Q&A after the screening This is the extended audio only Q&A James had after the screening. In it he discusses his Christian Science upbringing, the resources he utilizes as a father, how music saved his life, and how he approaches fatherhood.

"There's no hurry to rush into being a father. Be a kid and grow. Experience life. Go screw up and learn from it. Check that off. Well, that didn't work. It's not easy. None of this is easy. It's gonna take some work and some failure and some getting back up. Falling down and getting back up again. So everyone is going thru that, you're not alone. It is there. It is in you and looking everywhere outside for it is part of the adventure, but it lives within you already and it's been placed there by your higher power." - James Hetfield: 2011 May 12

"The gratitude list is certainly a help in that department too. At 17 I was certainly not grateful for anything I had. You could see it in the fog of growing up. That's pretty much what I remember of my childhood, like a big fog. You know and I needed help, people to guide me through that fog. And I had no idea there were people to help me until later... There are things that happen life and they effect in many different ways. (sic) The baggage is not (yours). (Your)name is not on it. Leave it at the station." - James Hetfield: 2011 May 12

On the song FADE TO BLACK "For me it went away when people started telling me that they liked that song. You're not supposed to like that song. It's a horrible song. It's about me wanting to end my life because there is nothing there. There's this big black, I just see blackness. I see a darkness and that's all I saw. And then people tell me they liked that song it turned to gray and slowly lightened up. It was a bunch of us that could get together and shine some light on the darkness." - James Hetfield: 2011 May 12


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