Last week I did something completely unreasonable and unwise. I spent an entire day with all three McClung brothers. I wasn’t with them in person, but I was with them digitally, watching and listening to any skate footage I could find from them on a non-stop 2-hour loop.
Why? Well, for science… sorta.
The complaint that too much skate content is posted every day is one I’ve parroted but never completely understood. There are endless YouTube parts, Insta clips and photos, web interviews, and so on and so forth. Is there really a problem with how much skate content is out there? What effect has this constant barrage of media had on skaters’ psyches? Could attempting to consume it all be potentially dangerous to the human brain?
Because this is an official Jenk Labs™ experiment, I needed a clear set of guidelines to ensure my scientific objectivity. I decided that I needed to immerse myself in footage that was uncomfortable for me to watch. Watching tons of clips from skaters I like would be too close to my average daily routine, and I might get too lost in it to remain critical.
1) There’s three (read: too many) of them.
2) They’re prolific, but I always avoid them.
3) I’m a sadist.
I started by downloading every video part, web clip, and commercial I could find of all three McClungi and putting them together into a continuous video I labeled “McClung_dump.mp4.” This added up to 2 hours of non-stop McClung madness and would serve as my primary source of media consumption for an entire day.
I would have to watch the thing from beginning to end at least once, and throughout the day, whenever I wanted to watch a video (of any kind) I would have to return to it.
Whenever I wanted to listen to music, I had to play “McClung_dump.mp4” on my phone and just listen to the audio. I also set up dummy social media accounts that only followed the three McClungs, so whenever I wanted to go on Instagram or Twitter, my feed would be exclusively McClung. I had to fully immerse myself in the McCrunk madness.
Feeling sick yet?
On game day I woke up at 6 a.m., made breakfast, and watched “McClung_dump.mp4” from start to finish. It opened with “raw” Trent McClung footage from a Primitive video. No music, just nine minutes of Trent. It was a nice way to ease into the day, and it helped answer something that puzzled me about him. I always thought he looked weird whenever he was crouching, and I finally realized it’s because he has super short thighs. That combined with his knees’ inward bend gives him the weirdest, stiffest, shortest stance in skateboarding. Wee Man would stand taller on a board than him.
Part way through the video I decided Trent is my favorite McClang. He doesn’t film filler tricks. He delivers, although he projects a sense of high self-criticism that’s totally fake. After watching 30 minutes of Trent, my only real gripe was watching him in slo-mo. It’s heinous. No one should ever subject the world to slow motion Troont.
Not allowing myself to skip ahead or watch anything else besides the epicly bland “McClung_dump.mp4” made me less antsy than when I usually watch skating. Giving myself over completely to the McClunes unlocked some kind of appreciation or complacency that I hadn’t experienced since watching my beloved Shorty’s Guilty.
It’s not just about watching a full-length video, it’s about abiding by it too. Even when Yeah Right! came out in 2003 I skipped over the parts I didn’t like. There’s some pleasure to take in surrendering control and just watching the whole damn video like I used to at my neighborhood skate shop.
Then came Taylor. Shit.
I quickly realized Taylor McClizzle is the worst of the bunch. Huge baggy pants, high-pitched stoner giggle, skated to rap music with too many record scratch sound effects. If one of the McClones had to go, it should be Tay-Tay.
Watching all three McClarinets skate the Berrics was overkill. That was the first time I thought this experiment might be personally dangerous. Maybe instead of erasing one of them, they just need to agree to not all skate street. Would two street and one vert McClungs be more tolerable than three street? I dunno, but it probably would have made me less dreadful about the second hour of McClung_dumped.
Around the halfway point and after the Taylor clip ended, I checked the time. It was only 7:35 a.m. and already I didn’t want to watch any more skating. I just wanted to shut my computer and stare at my cat for a while. But knowing I couldn’t stop was making me angry, and watching skaters who suck while you’re angry turned out to be zero fun.
After much squirming on the couch and several trips to the toilet (don’t worry, I brought my laptop in the bathroom to keep watching), McClung_dump finally ended with Trent skating to house music. It was a little past 8 a.m. so I showered and went to work.
Usually I listen to podcasts on my commute, but instead, I listened to 45 minutes of audio from McClung_dump. You’ve probably never walked around just listening to skate videos—because that would be insane—but it was actually nice. Especially when the video had no music, I zoned out from the idiots around me and fantasized about myself skating.
Around noon I took a scroll through social media to see what my McCluggers were up to. In a bullish, big brother move, Trevor turned out to have the most followers.
None of them use Instagram or Twitter sincerely. They all use it in that bland, pro skater way where they post three times a day, always with skate clips or product giveaways from their sponsors. Everything is self-congratulatory, nothing is critical, and it’s deathly boring.
I know that too much and not enough consideration is given to our online selves these days, but I realized how deadly accurate our Instagram personalities can be. Taylor, given his white boy rap persona, had me hoping to find an embarrassing Soundcloud account or copious weed selfies, but his online presence was bleh.
Over lunch I returned to McClung_dump, which was becoming increasingly difficult to pay attention to. The tricks glazed over me in a blur of southern Californian coolness. I didn’t want to watch nollie full cabs down twelve stairs or endless tailslides on greased up ledges. I didn’t want to watch skating at all. Especially when I couldn’t go skate myself. I hated skating.
Every hour or so for the rest of the workday I returned to the MacChungs in either video, audio, or social media form. Consuming them went from curious exercise, to chore, to routine.
By 6 p.m., they had become like air. I saw them and heard them everywhere. Every right-angled surface became a ledge for Trevor to pinch a front crooked grind. I caught myself humming the beat to a rap song from one of Taylor’s parts. This was what too much skate media consumption did to you. It turned you into a skate video.
I wish I could say I grew numb to the McCluggernauts, but I did not. I just tried to cope the best I could. I stared longingly at a guy’s bald spot on the train ride home. I fidgeted on my couch eating dinner as the McChugs chugged along. I relished every moment away from a screen. I flossed for 30 minutes, just for fun. I didn’t care that my gums were bleeding. I had had enough skate videos for one day.
All told, I watched about five hours of the McCrakken triplets skate, and listened to slightly more. I felt many different ways about skate content over the course of the day, at times loving it, at times wanting it to burn in hell.
But to answer the question that set me off on this journey into madness: is too much skate content bad for me?
Yes and no.
This experiment definitely poisoned my brain, but it didn’t break it. Instead, I realized my brain was already broken by years of watching skate videos. Because after 24 hours of non-stop skate videos—specifically skate videos I didn’t want to watch—I woke up the next day like I do every day, wanting to watch more skate videos.
Perhaps, if I hadn’t watched skate videos and clips endlessly throughout my life, this experiment could have had a different effect. Maybe a non-skater would have gone insane subjecting themselves to this horrific experiment, but skate videos had conditioned my brain from a young age to need them, like an addiction, so overdosing on subpar clips would never turn me off skate videos entirely. It would only stoke my appetite for good clips. And if that’s the case, I’m fine with it. I could subject my eyes to much worse content streams than skating. Just no more McClungs. Jesus Christ.