2018 NASSS Annual Conference
Sport Soundtrack: Sport, Music, & Culture

Glen Wood

York University, Toronto
“Never Been Done”: Conformity and Experimentation in Skateboard Video-Editing Conventions

The discourse of skateboard subculture invariably engages media as an ideological and educational agent, but before establishing this, we must delve into the archetypes of representation.  The proposed writing explores video-editing conventions in the effort to reconsider the subculture’s audio/visual genealogy. While skateboarding’s participants champion free-thinking and progression, video-editing principles have remained remarkably orthodox since the early 1990s. This structural rigidity emanates from a top-down (vertical) hierarchy in which within a given period, skateboard companies that control the flow of media propagate certain prescriptions that are deemed sacrosanct thereafter. One of the most enduring examples involves editors preserving a maneuver’s integrity by presenting a skateboarder’s entire movement and landing in (near) synchronicity with a song’s beat. The confluence emphasizes the impact of the rider’s “make”. Notably, between 1984-1991, Powell-Peralta, H-Street, World Industries, and Santa Cruz (NHS) predated and experimented with such formalism. My research traces the emergence of this convention (amongst others) through an examination of the aforementioned companies’ videos during this era: when did these editing patterns emerge, and in comparison to today’s accepted codes, what discontinuities and continuities exist? In doing so, our understanding of the subculture’s aesthetic, corporeal, and spatial lexicon within this methodological system is expanded.