A Fragmentary History of Skateboarding Videos – Chapter 12 - Yeah right!

Chapter 12 – Yeah right!

Fragment 78

Yeah Right! [2003] It’s Mike Carroll again. Eleven years after (one more than the rock band) the Questionable part we looked at in chapter 6. Nine years after (one less than the rock band) winning Thrasher’s Skater of the Year. Still killing it.

Fragment 79

Beautiful balanced nosegrind nollie flip [1:30], beautiful line [2:26] where it seems like he’s floating over the stairs after the manual, incredible ender. But it’s not really Mike Carroll’s skating that I’d like to focus on in this chapter. 

Fragment 80

His backside 50-50 up the rail [1:53] is an example of something that happens five or six times throughout Yeah Right! Other examples include Brian Anderson 180ing over a parking meter or Eric Koston doing a pop shove-it up nine stairs. I remember thinking something was off when I first watched the video. Not only did these tricks seem impossible, there was also something strange and jerky about them, the movement didn’t seem natural.

Fragment 81

I had to come to the conclusion that special effects were involved. Today, of course, everybody knows that they used green ramps that were then edited out. But at the time (and I think I watched Yeah Right! some years after it was released) I was about as willing to believe that a skate video would use special effects as to believe that those guys had actually landed those tricks. The relation of my own bafflement to the video’s humorous title took a while to become apparent.

Fragment 82

There is a reason why I wasn’t ready to accept straight away that a skate video would make use of special effects. After having watched several, I’d learned the unwritten law that says that, in skate videos, the film medium is subordinate to the skating. I.e., that there’ll be no taking advantage of film’s technical possibilities to suggest a skater did something he couldn’t do. It’s the same code of ethics I described in chapter 10.

Fragment 83

The question is: why? Why don’t skate videos go full-Hollywood on us? Or at least what’s so important about them that makes the use of special effects in Yeah Right! so special?

Fragment 84

The answer, I think, is this: with the rise of street skating in the late 80s, the skate community progressively redefined what skateboarding meant. The emphasis went from ramps that were specially built for skating and competitions to decide who was better than whom, to street spots to which skaters had to adapt and the total absence of rules. No time limit, no penalties for falling, etc.

Fragment 85

The skate video filled the void that was left when official competitions on ramps started to be seen as artificial and nonrepresentative of skateboarding culture. The videos could show all the rest – the partying, the houses where these people lived, the music they listened to, what they said to each other in everyday life. The skate video became the standard on which to base the community’s hierarchies, its relations of respect and influence, its history too. And without these things there can be no community. 

By Sebastião Belfort Cerqueira 

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