The other night, while the Polar video buffered on my PornHub page and the hottest skate clips scrolled across my phone screen, I had a sudden epiphany: all these skate videos are ruining my skateboarding. I spend more time binging on Instagram than actually doing any skateboarding, and when I do step on the board I’m left feeling empty and unfulfilled.
I was an addict, and I needed an intervention. Although we’re a skate site and probably should be promoting skate clips, I sat down to write out a few rationalizations as to why I (and all skaters) should stop watching so many skate videos…
1. WASTES TIME
Flip’s Sorry is 50 minutes long, and I’ve watched that video all the way through at least 200 times since it came out. That’s 166 hours of viewing. I’ve also watched Sight Unseen (35 min.) at least 200 times (116 hours), Fulfill the Dream (44 min.) at least 150 times (117 hours), and Yeah Right! (71 min.) at least 100 times (118 hours). That’s 517 hours watching just those videos.
It only takes 480 hours to reach basic fluency in another language, so by my crappy calculations, had I spent all that time studying Spanish instead of rewatching those classics, I could be wooing women in Bogota or reading 100 Years of Solitude in its original text by now. I’m not even going to start adding up the infinite hours spent catching up on the latest content across the web and social media. That’s the kind of shame that’ll sink a modern man.
2. LEADS TO DEVIANT TASTES
Research into self-described porn addicts show that the more similar video content you expose yourself to, the more extreme your tastes become. You start innocently enough with some good ol’ missionary, but before you know it you’re lost in the vortex of BDSM and Hentai. The fact that “Fidget Spinner” was the second most searched term on PornHub last year shows as much.
When applied to skateboarding, it might show in weird and unexpected ways: Maybe you stray into the realm of YouTube vloggers because the holy algorithm threw one in your suggested queue and you let it play out of curiosity.
First you’ll watch ironically, but before you know it you’re playing Braille Army clips in incognito mode, eagerly awaiting the next Camp Woodward episode, and secretly practicing that vlogger’s salutation, “don’t forget to like and subscribe,” in the mirror.
Or you might be affected in the other extreme, getting lost deep in the archives of skately, binging on forgotten videos from the early-90s that were forgotten for a reason, and slowly devolving into one of those nostalgia-infected oldheads that keep The Secret Tape and éS in business.
3. SETS UNREALISTIC SESSION EXPECTATIONS
Skate videos, with their carefully planned cuts and calculated Cali Stunt Skating™, create unrealistic expectations for what it’s like to go skating for the average skater.
Imagine you roll up to the homies after watching the newest Nyjah part or whatever psycho huckster Chris Joslin comes out with next. You’ll show up, see the little curb or stair set your crew decided to skate, and be disheartened at the relatively weak skill level of you and your friends.
The pros, one can only assume from their video output, would never skate something so puny! And, anyways, why can’t y’all land tricks with any kind of consistency? Your falls aren’t even that hectic! Why do you suck so much?
Skateboarding is subjective, but our understanding of our place within it is heavily influenced by the representations we’re exposed to.
Just like with porn, where the average guy’s dick doesn’t look as girthy as the dude’s on screen, and where the average asshole isn’t as beautifully bleached, your average skate crew just doesn’t stand scrutiny against professional video representations. And that can leave some feeling insecure and worthless.
(If the above is accepted, I suppose it can be argued that those content-booster “rough cuts” that are so common these days might be a lesser evil. But, actually, they might be more sinister since they only pose as more realistic presentations of a pro skater’s average session, obscured by the editor’s sleight-of-hand manipulation.)
4. LIMITS POSSIBILITIES
This next consequence is a bit more abstract, but bear with me here. Skate videos confine our understanding of what skateboarding is and can be.
As much as there’s a valid claim to make that skate videos introduce viewers to new trick possibilities or demonstrate new ways to approach old spots, I think the opposite can be argued just as effectively: Skateboard videos confine what we deem acceptable and limit what we think possible.
I got this idea from something I was watching the other day that discussed the differences between hetero- and homosexual fornication habits. Because heterosexual couples have all these existing narrative tropes of how sex should go, both partners don’t cum as often as homosexual couples, who, by virtue of having fewer mainstream representations of what they’re “supposed” to be doing, get to establish their own techniques and styles that feel good for them.
Think how much easier it’d be to get off–to have some fun and gain some pleasure out of this skateboarding thing–if you didn’t have all these preconceived notions of what is good and cool. Not knowing what’s expected of you allows you to reimagine the very foundations of skateboarding itself.
Science says that watching porn has a “supranormal” effect on our psychology, meaning that it activates the reward center of the brain in artificial ways without having to put in the work that usually provides for that release. Skate videos, in my opinion, are the same. The more skate videos you watch, the less inclined you are to get on your skateboard. Concern for the culture essentially consumes the act itself.
And, when you really think about it, which one of these feels better: watching and critiquing one thousand of the greatest kickflips ever done, or doing even a slow and sloppy one yourself? After writing this, I know my answer, and you can catch me mob flipping my unadulterated heart out.