Warm Fuzzies, Cats And Dogs, And The One Line That Remains Uncrossable

Winter early moves to wrap its frigid grip around the U.S.A. Walmart, King of The Stores, has already unveiled its holiday offering-deals. In the bristleish and untucked realm of the skate-board, the season of warm fuzzies already is at hand.

In the U.K., department store operator John Lewis released its annually anticipated holiday ad, which this week cascaded across screens of varying size via a thumbnail image of a days-bearded middle ager squeezing on a helmet, prompting reactions ranging from ‘don’t I know that guy’ to ‘I am that guy.’ As an apparent product of the secular advertising industry, the bulk of the ad cuts unnervingly close to the bone for those old enough to lack the schedule flexibility to hit anything but the most-packed or least-lit park hours, but young enough to reject throwing in the towel (or resist You-Tube perusals at work). The majority of the ad plays the DadBro’s quest for a kickturn less for laughs and more along the lines of some pitiable yearning to reclaim youth or maybe a midlife crisis, until a knock at the door puts the whole thing into a much different context (that’s also very 2022 in its take on who’s down these days). After years of harnessing 720s and kickflips to market carbonated beverages, the dairy industry and the U.S. military, it is a welcome shift.

Half a hemisphere away, in a California schoolyard (but not that kind), the seven-ply Sterling Coopers of WKND up-loaded a ‘Clueless’ style walking tour through the brandings, identities and cliques currently occupying various positions across the industry, Internet and life generally in ‘Alan Gelfand High.’ The menagerie, festooned with neck braces, noxious fumes and pregnant cheerleaders, skewers the nature of the industry and skating itself, sometimes gently and sometimes less so; Paul Rodriguez, Big Nakie, Nora Vasconcellos, Heath Kirchart, Rowan Zorilla and various others all are allotted screen time to illustrate the ecosystem’s wide-ranging coexisters, until arriving at the one line that narrator/guide Bob says represents “social suicide” (which is to say, rollerbladers), presenting the WKND team-riders with a stark choice.

It’s a well-crafted and details-laden reframing of a familiar story in service of a collab product line between WKND and blader brand Them Skates. The project seems geared toward furthering and challenging the more-accepting place that skateboarding is now in, where varial kickflips and other dad tricks are freely filmed, the most questionable music selection and fashion choices of the early 2000s are embraced, and vibe triumphs over podium placements and NBDs. There are long rambles to be penned about inclusivity and how far things have come and how far they have yet to go, but there can be no doubt that things are in a different place than they were 10, 20, 30 years ago.

And yet, there is a line that WKND’s norms-challenging commercial avoids entirely, a group for which John Lewis’ heart-warming TV commercial opens no doors. While collabing with a rollerblader company in 2022 is to sample the often lonely, widely derided outcast path required to be a skateboarder in the early 1990s — from the comfort of what’s now a firmly established and generally understood subculture, if not a particularly celebrated or lucrative one — the quantity of heart and flame emojis in response to ‘Alan Gelfand High’ heavily outweighed the raised eyebrow ones and the relatively few expressions of outright disgust from the old guard. The truly daring collaboration, though, would be in the less-underground and more vigorously reviled realm of the scooter, its clanking platform and unwieldy handlebars challenging all notions of style and execution and geometry, its ranks made legion by innumerable preteens flopped across skatepark quarterpipes, a wreckage of GoGurt entrails leaking behind them, phalanxes of red-faced parents bearing water bottles and sunscreen forming a fearsome rear vanguard.

In this story, are the scooter riders of our day the ugly duckling rejected by its snooty swan peers, or a demon to be recognized for its unholy nature and summarily cast out? Are Los Angeles-area trailblazers 10C41, who released earlier this year on their channel a scooter vid called ‘RazorBLADE’, once again way ahead of the curve in pushing of envelopes? Does the heavily underground nature of the modern rollerblader scene make them by default cooler than skateboarders, with all the day jobs, confused looks and jeers from passing cars to prove it?

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3 Responses to “Warm Fuzzies, Cats And Dogs, And The One Line That Remains Uncrossable”

  1. ya Says:

    you can’t mention scootering in relevance to skating without this

  2. art hellman Says:

    legend tells of an early scooter cameo in a WISCO/MN video in which a young man known as B.D. hops some stairs, whips some tails, and nose wheelies to glory

  3. anon Says:

    WKND supported Johan’s behavior until they thought they were going to lose money for it. The rollerblading clownery is icing on the cake

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