Thursday, June 30, 2016

Skate Videos. Why I Hate and Love Them.

I grew up with skate videos. Or rather, skate videos and I grew up together. From the first efforts of Powell in the 80s, to the recent Adidas high production premier, it’s been an interesting trip. In the early years I was stoked to see a new video. They were watched over and over again. They inspired people to go skating. Now, skate videos are worse than a scorching case of Panda AIDS, Zika, and SARS all combined into a neat 20 minute advertisement.

Modern skate videos are a tedious bore. A tragedy to make Homer jealous. Skateboarding has become hard to watch. Golf might offer more excitement. Skate videos are no longer inspiring. They don’t make you want to go skate. They don’t spread the stoke. It’s more like watching someone doing algebra. The specific problem dovetails into two (well, maybe three) issues that make contemporary skate videos a soul-crushing nightmare.

First, is saturation. In order to maintain market relevancy, everyone is releasing 3x video clips a week. Combine that with the sheer number of companies in skateboarding right now, and we’re talking Old Testament floodwaters.

Second, is predictability. Before I even watch the newest video, I know what I am going to see. Super tech ledge tricks. Something gnarly down a handrail. A big gap. **Yawn** It’s just become so, so, fuckin’ predictable. Once you’ve seen footage of Jaws skating gaps, everything else becomes pretty mundane. How many more combos can Shane O’Neil string together on a ledge? It just all passes a point of absurdity.  Maybe I am just old. Maybe I have just seen too much skateboarding. How many kickflips over an X can one man possibly be expected to endure before utter madness sets in? While I may not be able to predict the exact combo, when I see Nyjah skating towards a ledge, I know what is about to happen (it will be something like a Tre flip to nose grind to nollie flip out). I just can’t watch it anymore, and still be moved by it. Yes, Nyjah has absurd talent. Yet, he is also absurdly uninspiring to watch skate, which brings me to the last issue.

The fun factor. Watching a lot of modern stunt-man skating does not look like fun. It looks horrifying, or so tech that it’s just…goofy. Olleing down 25 stairs? I mean, like, HOLY FUCK, that is sooo gnarly, but it screams shattered bones before it even approaches something that looks like fun. Bigflip to f/s railslide to kickflip out. Yeah, crazy hard, nothing I’d ever be able to do, but it just doesn’t speak to me. Modern videos document, but they do not inspire. Sure, some may be inspired by most modern skate videos. I am just not one of those people.

Yet, not everything falls into the “unwatchable.” There are still a lot of videos out there, which simply rock the world. The only videos I can watch these days are ones where I have absolutely no fucking idea what is going to happen next. A few examples are below. What makes these special is, well, watch for yourself. I don’t need to explain it.

The Pyscho Killer / Glenn "Glenzig" Davidson video, which can be seen here.

Any video made by Fancy Lad.

The Magenta Guys have this radness going.

Jerry Gurney. This one takes a bit to get going, and then, wow. The real fun doesn't start until about 45 seconds in.

Richie Jackson. This is simply amazing stuff.

Mike V. and the crew are also putting out clips that is just pure fucking fun, and make you want to go skating more than anything else. Just how it should be.  

EDIT/POST-SCRIPT: A few comments about this post were made on Facebook between a friend and I. They should probably be included.

Jose: The 1 8 makes rad videos that still inspire....when they make a video!

Me: I debated mentioning the 1 8 in this post. I left them out because, well, like almost everything else they do, it's in its own world. Fucktards was so raw. Tent City to Destination Unknown, to the recent "Landfill Contributors" clips on the AH web site...all amazing stuff.

Jose: They never tire cause it's real skateboarding. Hanging out with your bros capturing those moments sometimes when you're actually filming and not just on a filming mission.


  1. this is perfect.
    I'm old. I skate a couple days a month. Mike V's stuff gets me stoked to ride. you totally captured it. thanks you and cheers. (PS all of the links you shared were rad. Jerry Gurney may have changed my life.


  2. Chris, I totally agree most newer videos are predictable and Uninspiring. Vids from the 80's gave us stoke to get out and try new things and the even crazier part was we were watching a lot of vert skating and trying to take those trick to the streets.

    Kevin Johnson

  3. Agree on all points. Especially the Mike V stuff. I am desensitized to the giant gnarly stuff or the ultra tech shit. Even in freestyle, I find more inspiration in the subtleties of a smooth line than in an extra flip or "banger".

    1. I don't know how many skate video clips I have seen on Instrgram, facebook, youtube, the web, etc over the last year. Far, far too many to count. The one thing that sticks in my memory the most? a video YOU posted of some dude doing a rock 'n' roll on a bank to curb. Why? It just looked so fuckin' rad. So yes, I 100% agree with your sentiment about subtleties and a smooth line v. hammers and flips.

    2. If it was that recent vid, it was my friend Dale, at a little spot he found recently. Dale does a nice, fluid RnR. And he rolls away real nice too.

  4. To go on and on a little bit more on this topic... What makes that clip of my buddy Dale so nice is that he really know how to MOVE on a skateboard. You can take a kid who's never skated before and within a few weeks have 'em doing some tricks, but it takes a longer time to learn to move naturally, with grace and power.

    1. ^ The EXACT reason why things like Tommy G.'s part in Future Primitive are still great to watch in 2016.