AP: Were there things in this film that you honestly don’t remember happening that you were surprised to see or relive?
BF: The shocking thing is over the years most of my patients find out that I was in a band, they ask what band, and I have to tell them, then they’ve never heard of it and you get into the storytelling of your life to other people, but then watching it all on film is a whole other thing. Some of it I don’t remember and seeing it is a more realistic thing than what is in my mind of what actually happened.
AP: You experienced a shock when you were younger when you discovered that your parents weren’t who you thought they were. This seems to be a topic that has been coming up a lot recently and even in other films at the Hot Docs festival. Why do you think this happened and why do you think it continues to happen?
BF: I kind of understand why people were so secretive back then. Why it is still going on generation after generation I don’t understand. My parents and grandparents had to lie about it because it is such a shameful thing in 1960, but nowadays I’ve met kids that were born in the 1980s that weren’t told who their natural parents were and that’s a weird thing. In the 80s? I think it’s all that fear and misregulation in the midst of the pregnancy that they just come up with this Band-aid. “Well, we won’t tell him.” Then they have to stick to that. Imagine as the lie is going along then all of a sudden they try to tell someone that they don’t know their real mother. It’s tough.
AP: Through Celebrity Rehab and your position as one of the founders of Hollywood Recovery Services you have become an outspoken critic of how rehabilitation today focuses too much on harm reduction instead of treatment and how it relies far too heavily on medications that can be just as habit forming as the drugs an addict is trying to wean themselves off of. It shows in the film that you have caught some flack for this position within the medical community in the past. What is your standing within the medical community like right now?
BF: There’s two things going on there. Dr. Drew (Pinsky, host of Celebrity Rehab and consultant for Hollywood Recovery Services) said something about two years ago when we were getting started. Before we even had the TV show we were getting in trouble with the corporation that owned our hospital because we weren’t performing to what our quarterly numbers should have been, and he said that if we just had better outcomes we would be able to fight back. That’s the God’s honest truth. There is so little success in the recovery industry. And why is that? Because the recovering drug addict community is so anonymous because of the 12-step recovery process. When people recover they should try to be very open about that and be candid about that. I think if there was more conversation about recovery it would be more inspiring to the people that are suffering. That’s my main pet peeve with that. We need the people who are good outcomes to talk about it. It’s like a secret, you know? It’s like, if I was a train-wreck or if I was a terrible person like Robert Downey Jr. was and then you turn around and say you’re not and you just stay quiet about it, that to me is the ultimate sin.
Only people who suffer really know what it’s like. The public doesn’t get a real look at mental health issues or drug addiction or anything. It’s part of why we did our TV show. It’s like this dirty little secret that you are supposed to be ashamed of and it’s ridiculous.
I have a philosophy about suffering. Suffering is not good. A large part of life is about suffering and a lot of it doesn’t have any value other than… suffering. But overcoming suffering and talking to others in the same situation about it, that has value. It’s still a deficit, but it can be used as an asset. All the horrible stuff I did and all the bad trials and tribulations that I did to myself and other people, it’s destructive and horrible, but if I talk about it and try to help other people that aren’t being good parents, or drug addicts, or fuck ups to help them be inspired or get out of it quicker, then my suffering has meaning.
Bob and the Monster plays Hot Docs on Friday, May 6 at 9:30 p.m. at the Cumberland 3. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit hotdocs.ca.
Top image: A scene from Bob and the Monster. Courtesy Hot Docs.