If you’ve read the new and excellent Emerica Thrasher you may already be familiar with the idea thrown around therein, that “Stay Gold” could be the Last Video in this bold age eaten up with web content, narrowing promotional budgets and wildly fluctuating gasoil prices. The point might be worth debating had it not already been obliterated some eight decades ago via the short historical work “The Shadow Out Of Time” which informs of an ancient race of body-borrowers who plied their trade across the respective ages of dinosaurs, men and certain beetleoids, among others. Which is to say that when the last of our fragile, flesh-toned number pass beyond this earthly realm, enough copies of 411 will survive in various vaults and fortresses to inevitably inspire the next rulers of this planet to at least try and learn to ollie and later maybe film it.
Leo Romero, my SOTY choice again this year, sure skates like he rules the planet, but no moustache is long enough nor any hat-brim wide enough to fend off the forces of technology that are even now consuming the profitability of any and all media, forcing the RIAA to target grandmas and whatnot. Initiatives to pack DVDs with bonus features are met with chapter-specific “PM plz”es as all the world either lives in some backwater country where mailorder costs $60 or their mom’s a hardcase who won’t drive them to the shop, and criminy, it hasn’t even shipped from the warehouse yet.
“Stay Gold” is probably nowhere near the last video, if only because Habitat and Krooked and Real and Toy Machine are all slated to put out productions of their own in the months ahead, and even as overwrought as it was, I doubt Ty Evans will stop with Lakai’s slow-motion fireball for TWS. But maybe it is fair to openly wonder, as others have done before Burnett and Szafranksi this month, how long the five-year film/video/coast hype cycle can sustain itself, or any sort of going enterprise. Even scaling back production to a credit crunch-friendly U.S./Mexico/Canada touring circuit, there are hotel rooms to be rented (/repaired), gasoil to be pumped into rental vans, Funyons and extra rental van insurance to be purchased, cameras and lights and bolt cutters and other Inspector Gadget shit to facilitate a four-second clip that may or may not make the b-roll footage on a poorly selling DVD because it got too stale or a bro got a different hair cut.
But despite an industry awash in drop-outs, drunkards and leering pirates, it’s hard to imagine the whole process hinging upon even the old bait-and-switch move of selling first the normal vid and then the “deluxe edition” with the bonus shit. If that was the case you could maybe buy the idea that the full-length video concept is not long for a world where the conversation moves on before the physical product makes it inside the shop’s glass countertop. The big video release generally aims to ramp up stoke levels, re-situate the company and get the products moving but that’s just the payoff — in the run-up to a proper video premiere/release there are several hype cycles involving ad campaigns, some sloganeering, magazine articles, throw-away clips (formerly the realm of the 411s), at least a couple soul-crushing deadline pushbacks, random team shuffling to up the drama, etc etc.
All of which builds character for everybody involved but more importantly (maybe) gives direction to these companies, and maybe more weight to whatever skating’s gone on. You wonder like if Danny Way’s mega-ramp debut would’ve issued the same shockwaves had it been pushed onto DC’s tiresomely advanced website as a 10-minute promo thing, or if he would’ve even tried some of those stunts if there wasn’t a fearsome deadline looming. There’s the long-play format too that you have to imagine will continue to lure in would-be auteurs with “Memory Screen” ambitions, money-losing format be durned.