Saturday, June 9, 2012
Subjectivity and the Art of Skateboarding
The first thing I learned as a young journalism student was to always remain objective. Objectivity is defined as "judgment based on observable phenomena and uninfluenced by emotions or personal prejudices." With the exception of op/ed writing, most print journalism has remained objective while the majority of broadcast journalism is now nearly all subjective (subjectivity being defined as "judgment based on individual personal impressions and feelings and opinions rather than external facts.") As social media platforms have become more prevalent in our society so has subjectivity. Everyone has an opinion. Skateboarding is no exception. While I can write objectively about the subject, the art of skateboarding itself is a subjective matter, primarily based on individual personal impressions, feelings, and opinions. While we skateboarders share a lot in common, our opinions of skateboarding can be rather varied. Skateboarding is defined to the individual skater by the magazines they read, the videos they watch, the terrain they ride, and the company they keep. Today there are multitudes of skaters, each with their own ideas as to what defines skateboarding. There are areas where opinions overlap as well as areas upon which there is disagreement. There are various factions within skateboarding that disagree with the subjective opinions of other factions. Once upon a time, skaters rode everything and participated in the various disciplines of skateboarding including park, pool, downhill, slalom, street, or whatever terrain was available. Luckily today there are still consummate skateboarders, skaters who ride everything, but there are also factions within skateboarding that define themselves by their favorite chosen discipline, limiting themselves in the process by not enjoying all that skateboarding has to offer. Personally, as readers of this blog know, my available terrain is limited to curbs, banks, and a small local park, but I don't classify myself as a "curb skater" or "street skater", I will ride whatever is available. Skateboarding has too much to offer to marginalize yourself into just one aspect, or discipline,of the pastime. Finally, there are the those I refer to as the style police, the ultimate subjectivists who define skateboarding by their own strict style guidelines based on what they think is right, or cool. The "style police" attempt to dictate to other skateboarders how to ride, what to ride, and how to ride it. In recent years we have seen the policing of everything from how to properly carry a skateboard to how to properly kick, or push, when skateboarding. Personally, or subjectively, I don't subscribe to these style theories as I've been around too long and find some of this policing to be downright disrespectful to those who paved the way for us. My prime example is the popular subjective opinions against "Mongo pushing", or kicking with your front foot while your back foot stays on the board. Some of the most well rounded skaters who are masters of all terrains and disciplines are "Mongo pushers", these are guys I've known now for over 25 years, guys who can ride a bowl, shred a park, and run a slalom course with the greatest of ease. One of my favorite skaters has always been and still is Bill Danforth, a Mongo pusher if there ever was one. When I see him throw down a sweeper on a ramp or kill a layback grind, I couldn't give two shits as to how he kicks. Hell, even I push "Mongo" when I go fakie (or "skate switch" as the rest of the world calls it). Honestly, in the subjective and rebellious opinion of this writer, all of this policing makes me WANT to be a Mongo kicking Stinkbugging Mall Grabber (not really, but, yeah, yeah it does.) Skateboarding, after all, is a subjective activity, defined by the individual, it always has been, so let's not forget it.