A Fragmentary History of Skateboarding Videos – Chapter 14 - Gold is up!

Chapter 14 – Gold is up!

Fragment 94

Stay Gold [2010]. And they do. They keep it pure gold from start to finish. The whole team skates impossible stuff impossibly well, the soundtrack is amazing (and I say that in spite of the edited Sabbath song in Bryan Herman’s part) and the video feels like a coherent, thought-out whole. When you have the time, I highly recommend that you watch it from beginning to end. For the purpose of this chapter, I’ll be focusing on a couple of loose nuggets.

Fragment 95

The whole of Brandon Westgate’s part [4:17 to 9:12] is an event that deserves celebrating. I’m not sure if I could write too much or too well about half the stuff that he does, but I’d like to spend some time trying. I won’t. I’ll look at the ollie at 5:25 instead. It’s a huge one. Westgate flies over a wide ditch into a steep bank and has to step off his board almost immediately for lack of space for rolling away. It’s impressive, but though I try and I try, I can’t get no satisfaction. I want to see him roll away. I feel like he deserves it.

Fragment 96

I think that this feeling has helped me to pinpoint a difference of which I’m not sure I was fully aware before. In most cases, I’m used to thinking of the roll-away footage in the terms of a certain professional ethics I described in chapter 10: the filmmakers let the viewer see the evidence that the skater landed his trick and was in control till the end. With Westgate’s ollie I get this proof, but I’m still not content. I think a possible explanation would be that, up to a certain point, as a spectator, I identify with the skater. I can’t help but imagine that, after landing such a scary stunt, going that fast, I would want to ride the feeling of accomplishment out for as long as I could. This is what I feel those concrete steps robbed him of, the post-climax high, if you’ll pardon the paradox, the s-s-s-satisfaction.

Fragment 97

Moving over a lot of incredible skateboarding, there’s a magical moment in Aaron Suski’s part that shouldn’t go unnoticed. At 29:11, Suski ollies from a bank to suski grind (the sort of tweaked backside 5-0 that was named after him) the top of a wall by a freeway. The background is highly photogenic, with the fence on top of the wall splitting the sky into two different shades of blue and the three red lights shining out in a row. If this wasn’t good enough, the third light goes off as he lands the trick and back on as he rolls by the camera.

Fragment 98

I have argued elsewhere (check chapter 3, for example) along the lines that skate videos progressively discovered a visual affinity with the act of skateboarding, which would, by that account, already be highly visual in its nature. If a skateboarder first perceives and then inscribes himself into certain patterns or designs that he finds in “nature”, in his environment, he is identifying with the physical world. It’s hard to tell whether he is becoming more like an object or whether objects become humanized, but the two worlds come closer in skateboarding. In this light, it’s not surprising that so many skaters talk to their boards or scream at a handrail. The flicker of the red light when Suski lands his trick is the ultimate confirmation of this type of transformation, it’s as if the stoplight was watching and going “holy shit, did you see that?”

Fragment 99

A short note on Jerry Hsu’s part [36:38 to 40:08]: first, a masterpiece of a slam section, edited to the perfect song, revealing amazing control of the emotional tone – we’re right there suffering with him; then, a masterpiece of switch skating, on which much could be written.

By Sebastião Belfort Cerqueira 

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