December 3, 2012


"Scared money don't make none," or so I thought.

For the moment, skateboard culture cares once more that big, non-skateboard related corporations and entities are involved in what has been a multi-billion dollar industry for some time. Short of channeling Chris Hedges* for the argument, or muddling along with my own gray feelings about the issue, here's a bit of an Internet roundup of the recent rumblings about corporate involvement in skateboard world.

A post on Jenkem titled, "How Corporations are Changing Skateboarding and Why It Matters starts and started the discussion. It presents some newish and interesting information about the current state of the game, though lacks a real call to action and isn't exactly strong in its argument. The ender quote:

"If the corporations continue to increase their hold of skateboarding the ramifications for skateboarding in terms of culture, space, and economics will be huge. Instead of waiting to see Mango’s next creative part, the hijinks of the Baker Boys or the adventure of Wallner’s next skate-documentary we will be stuck watching Alex Klein attempt to sell competitive skateboarding to outsiders and Sheckler win at skateboarding by being the “best”. Rather than being anomalies these skaters will become the norm if we return to the world of corporate skateboarding, and we will end up in a worse spot than we were in the 1980s when Vallely, Rocco, Gonzales, and others all first rebelled against corporate control."
Piggybacking on Jenkem, Marc Johnson, possible two-term SOTY, wrote a bit of a screed on Instagram, citing the Jenkem piece. I'm quite loathe to call out MJ, whose skateboarding I hold in extremely geeky high-esteem (see the post below), but come on, man, some of your best friends are friends of corporations (aren't corporations people!?). The entirety:
"For everyone here who rides a skateboard, and buys skate products, I just read a disturbing article on about how corporations are changing skateboarding and why it matters. PLEASE READ THIS, and think about the stuff you buy. I promise you this article will piss you off, and it might influence the way you make your purchasing decisions from here on out. Read it 4 or 5 times and let it sink in. And please feel free to discuss. Thank you to the 10,000 awesome people that check my posts! My point is something like this: When you spend your money in certain products, you give your power away to people who want to take what you love, and change it into something you will not like whatsoever. Make smart buying choices, and support brands that ACTUALLY LOVE SKATEBOARDING, not corporations who bought into skateboarding and are changing it to fit a business model that makes them the most money. Most of these corporations have nothing to do with the stuff you love and they don't have skateboarding roots whatsoever. Read on, and tell me what you think."
Finally, there's an interesting diatribe from The Hundreds, playing off the above Jenkem piece once more, coming with a chipped shoulder and an ax to grind, mixed metaphors be damned. Early and lucidly:
"[T]he hard truth is that the essay should’ve been called “How Corporations CHANGED Skateboarding…” because the author beats a horse that died 10 years ago. It’s old news, dude, and don’t you dare pretend like we didn’t watch this happen right before our eyes. We let the swooshes and the stripes take over the slats, and we signed off on the energy drinks. We turned our heads and giggled sheepishly because everyone was making money and although it wasn’t right, “Come on man, I got bills to pay.”

"Which is totally fine. I do too. But don’t go bitch and cry about your stolen skateboard when you let a stranger borrow it for $1."

And then this, which isn't as self-contradictory as it seems, hat tip and total recognition to Kyle Beachy and his "The Most Fun Thing," I'm lifting the same quote:
"[M]ost of all, here’s this, skate companies. Stop trying to define what Skateboarding is. Because Skateboarding’s always been about what isn’t, and that’s why you fell in love with it. As much as I long for the dangerous elements, the so underground that it’s 6-feet-underground, the poor and pure charm of the broken ‘90s skate industry, Skateboarding will never be the same by virtue of everything it stands for. Skateboarding is up for grabs. So stop talking and start taking. Skateboarding doesn’t belong to companies, it belongs to the people. If it really means that much to you, then how could you let this happen?"

In rebuttal to the above, if you didn't click the Beachy link up there, here's Beachy with a pretty instructive bit of advice:

"Stop taking. Start giving. Keep talking. Dicks."
That's pretty good advice, for all of us.

*I saw Hedges speak near the end of the aughts at the University of Minnesota, and if you want a chance to freak out about corporatism in the real world, he's your ticket. His rhetoric will either entice or repulse you, but either way, you'll think (Skateboard world isn't as complicated. Buy small and support small, if you care to do so).

Edit: Click here for interesting links from 20 years ago.

1 comment:

DNELS said...

plat never bores me, thanks for the post and links