A Fragmentary History of Skateboarding Videos – Chapter 2 - TV Party

Chapter 2 – TV Party

Fragment 6

Out of the six videos Powell Peralta put out during the 80s (including the shorter, less well-known Axe Rated), there isn’t one that doesn’t begin with a little jab at TV culture. Four of them actually include images of TV sets being destroyed and, at least twice, intentionally, by Stacy Peralta himself. In The Bones Brigade Video Show (1984) he smashes the screen with an axe. Three years later, in The Search for Animal Chin, he’s still watching the same TV show, only this time decides to throw the tube out the window.

Fragment 7

“And what is it that the youth of today wants, Allen?” One would assume it’s because Allen doesn’t know how to answer this question satisfactorily that Stacy throws the TV out the window. The implication being that Stacy would know how to answer. But Allen’s answer, while not exactly empathizing with “the youth of today” is not wide of the mark. It sort of describes Powell Peralta’s famous imagery. Stacy was a smart dude who knew how to make fun of himself, which helps account for the longevity of some of these videos, particularly Animal Chin.

Fragment 8

One doesn’t need to say too much about the connection between skateboarding and punk rock during the best part of the 80s. The two scenes overlapped a lot. Many have commented on their shared attitudes and worldviews. (“It’s that death, gore, dismemberment whole type of... go-for type of thing” could be read as one such comment.) After Black Flag’s “TV Party” or The Misfits’ “TV Casualty” how can a skate brand stay punk rock and sell VHS tapes?

Fragment 9

“We had no idea at that time, in 1983, that households all over the world would soon have in their homes VCRs, which would make it possible for skaters everywhere in the world to watch these skateboarding videos.” (Taken from Stacy Peralta’s introduction to the re-issue of The Bones Brigade Video Show.) By 1987, they knew. Which is why they had to hammer Animal Chin’s point home so heavily. They weren’t just dumbing down because of having so many different people watching (television’s basic philosophy), they were telling you to go outside skate and have fun while at the same time doing everything they could to entertain and amuse you with that product, that VHS tape that kept you in front of the TV.

Fragment 10

“He had fun.” “If we don’t find him, that’s ok, we had a rad time anyway.” “If you look too hard for Animal Chin, you’re never gonna find him. You gotta relax and enjoy your skating” “having fun is an art you have to develop, understand, respect” (lines from Animal Chin). If the medium really is the message, no matter how many times you repeat the video’s mantra, there’s an unavoidable countercurrent telling the viewer to stay home and enjoy the pleasures of audiovisual entertainment. Do you go outside and skate or do you stay home and watch? With whom are you partying in a TV party?

Fragment 11

Decades later, Jeff Grosso used to finish his Loveletters to Skateboarding episodes urging the viewer to turn his screen off and go outside have fun and skate. But the Loveletters were a very entertaining show. I’m sure he’d be bummed if nobody watched it. The song remains the same, pretty much. It’s worse with the internet and smartphones. I see kids looking at their screens in the skatepark all the time. I think it sucks. But I’d also like you to read this, which is only available online.

By Sebastião Belfort Cerqueira

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