isn’t any skateboarding good skateboarding?

7 01 2007

(emailed to Thrasher Magazine editor)

dear Thrasher Magazine,

i flip through the monthly skate mags in the shop, & usually buy one from the range, & have sampled most of what’s out there. while flipping through Thrasher, i flipped. who ever came up with a couple of your recent subscription advertisements should have their balls nailed to a popsicle & be pushed back into the Jurassic era for being so dumbly exclusive. the first was a picture of a tragically weed-overgrown abandoned vert ramp and the caption “ADAPT OR GO EXTINCT”. The second was a young kid, surrounded by other skater kids in what appeared to be a contest setting, doing a skateboard flip-trick while wearing roller-blades, & the caption “DON’T BE A DORK… SUBSCRIBE”.

as a 35yo skater who’d literally never picked up a skateboard until a year ago (& lovin it!), i’ve invested a lot of time learning my skate history too. the attitude behind this sub ad is emblematic of mainstream skate media/culture – an overwhelming focus on street skating & its narrow, youth-directed, fashion-focussed, insane-stunt-performing culture. if it’d been yet another ad for a skate shoe company (etc), i would have dismissed it & kept reading. but i didn’t think i’d see it so dumbly pushed in a sub ad from Thrasher. kids will – quite by themselves – often try to boost their own ego’s by criticising anything outside their direct experience. Thrasher is preying on that (normal) juvenile mentality, and as an organisation in a position of power & authority is essentially saying “that’s OK kids, fruit-booters ARE dorks to be ridiculed, street-skating is the only way to go”. WTF???

i don’t mind that the mainstream market is (currently) mainly 9-19 year olds and catered to accordingly. but it’s being promoted almost to the exclusion of everything & everyone else. has it not occurred to the marketers that it’s the oldies who were there skating all those years ago developing what’s now considered niche skating styles, some of whom would love the opportunity to get back on a longboard & carve their local streets, hills or beach boardwalks, with or without their kids in tow? and for those still up for it, get back into a bowl or vert-ramp, or local slalom scene? do the marketers forget that it’s us oldies who have a hell of a lot more disposable income than 9-19yo kids, ready to spend it on quality gear advertised in quality inclusive media? but all they see as they _walk_ around their neighbourhood is magazines for kids, boards for kids, shoes & clothes for kids, & attitude for kids.

yeah, i know skaters have prided themselves on having an almost impenetrable club, and it’s obvious this exclusivity mentality is partly what’s driving the current direction of mainstream skate culture. but can’t you guys see where it’s heading?!? you should, ’cause it’s been happening for over a decade! the definition of what it is to be a skater – from sponsored pros & ams, to even just ordinary suburban kids – is getting narrower every year. if you’re not jumping down 10 or 20 stairs, leaping 10 foot gaps, or sliding down a rail into hospital, no one in the mainstream skate media wants to know you! the pool of talent capable of pulling off these increasingly amazing stunts will continue to dwindle (that’s a simple demographic fact).

an industry that mainly produces products for such an ever-narrowing market is ripe for cheap competition and will continue to disappear up its own butt hole, for example street decks able to be manufactured so cheaply resulting in blanks & shop decks which undermine name brand market share, which undermines their capacity to support their teams, which undermines the sport & competitions. Thrasher’s pages are dominated by advertising to make its cover price kid-friendly. you’re painting yourselves into an ever-decreasing corner. you call this adaptation?!? any economist, not to mention some within our industry, will tell you it’s slow, painful suicide.

why the hell isn’t “any skating is good skating” a guiding principle for a skate mag, most of all for Thrasher who’s literally been there through it all? us ‘oldies’ are out there, there’s lots of tiny niche groups & websites for us, but we exist _despite_ the prevailing attitude, not because of it.

and don’t give me that shit that you’re just “reflecting what’s out there”. the skate media holds the keys to what we see outside our own little worlds, just as much as the skate-fashion marketing departments – you are linked at the hip – for better, or worse. for evidence of that, just download Transworld’s “2007 Media Kit” to see they’re totally hell-bent on the youth market ‘at all cost’ – even their long term sustainability. but Thrasher Magazine & your local & overseas peers, and the sport in all its diversity can (or at least could) be seen not just on paper, but web, DVD, podcasts & even tv. i believe you still have the muscle & capacity to afford to broaden the scope of what’s covered, and thus create a sustainable future that keeps skaters rolling beyond their 19th birthday.

question is, have you got the balls for it? or will you just walk away when the kids say you’re too old?

techydude

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