My Career as a Jerk illuminates the tumultuous beginning, middle and (possible) demise of the Circle Jerks. While most discussions of west coast hardcore punk focuses on Black Flag, this documentary makes the case that the Jerks’ story deserves not only to be told but that the band should be known much more than one that featured ex-Flag members Keith Morris and Chuck Biscuits and ex-Red Cross guitarist Greg Hetson.
Director David Markey uses an oral history approach that focuses on interviews with former members Morris, Hetson, Lucky Lehrer, Zander Schloss and Earl Liberty. As interesting as they may be chronicling their DIY tale, the doc could use an authoritative perspective on the music and the scene from someone outside of the band’s bubble.
The interviews are separated by live performance clips. With the growing popularity and availability of videotaping right around the Circle Jerks’ 1979 formation, there’s a fair amount of decent to high quality footage that demonstrates the group’s musical progress with each lineup change.
Although so much is covered in the film and 32 minutes of deleted scenes, we’re still left with a number of holes in the story. Why did Hetson start playing with Bad Religion and why come back to the Jerks? What were those national tours during the band’s early days like? Why was signing to a major label a disaster? Why did Morris grow dreadlocks? What happened to put off another chapter in the Circle Jerks history and led Morris to start OFF!? What are all the members doing now?
Overall, My Career as a Jerk is an entertaining tale but the unanswered questions leave this not as definitive as it could have been.