Empty Apologies, Empty Action, and the Defense of Toxic Masculinity.
|Anthony Pappalardo||Jul 10|| 5|
The above post is from former WKND Skateboards pro Johan Stuckey. On June 30, the Instagram account @Emilylameland posted the entry below, accusing Stuckey of sexual assault as well as knowingly passing an STD to her. Stuckey and WKND had previously joked in a “roast” video about the incident.
This is really hard for me to post but i think now is as good of time as any to share what Johan Stuckey did to me. I’ve been so scared to post this out of fear of what people will think of me and the negative feedback I know i will receive but I’m finally ready. Im doing this to participate in the best way I can, and to try to help others who have gone through the same thing. After my positive test results came back I was in a very dark place. I tried to take my own life because of how ashamed and embarrassed i was. I’m okay now and the stigma around having herpes is worse than the actual virus. More than 1 in 6 people carry the virus, this doesn’t change the fact that it was given to me unknowingly. I don’t believe cancel culture is very effective. I just want this to open up a conversation in skateboarding about how skaters treat women. It is insane how sexism and rape culture is so prevalent within skate culture still... i will probably lose some friends from this but honestly whatever fuck you and dont forget black lives matter, abolish the police, believe victims, and free kids in cages.
Like Julz Lynn, who accused Neil Hendrix of sexual abuse via “sex lessons” in 2018, commenters and SLAP Board questioned each woman’s claim, making comments about their promiscuity, appearance, mental health, and other derogatory statements. Lynn was 14-years-old at the time of the alleged incident. The allegations against Hendrix have been documented by ESPN and several other mainstream outlets, as well as JENKEM detailing them in a 2018 entry. In 2019, Hendrix’s ban was lifted by SafeSport and many in the industry continued to maintain his innocence. On February 27, 2020, New Deal skateboards, who had been in full support of Hendrix, ended their relationship with him via an Instagram post.
Having recently re-watched Martin Scorsese’s remake of Cape Fear (1991), many of the comments that followed on both Stuckey and Emilyland’s accounts echoed the bizarre and problematic premise of the movie itself:
Sam Bowden (Nick Nolte) is a lawyer living in North Carolina with his wife Leigh (Jessica Lange) and teenage daughter Danielle (Juliette Lewis). Max Cady (Robert De Niro), a former client whom Sam failed to defend properly, is released from prison after 14 years; Cady was tried for rape and battery of a young woman and, appalled by the attack, Sam buried evidence that might have lightened Cady's sentence or even secured his acquittal.
The evidence that Nolte’s character in Scorsese’s remake buried is that the victim was promiscuous and had the jury known this, it would have discredited her testimony. This is problematic since sexual history cannot be introduced in most rape cases, and Rape Sheild Laws were introduced in the 1970s/’80s in the United States, long before Cape Fear was filmed. The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 created a federal rape shield law three years after the film.
It’s worth noting that Scorsese’s version vastly differed from J. Lee Thompson’s 1962 version:
In Southeast Georgia in 1962, after spending eight years in prison for rape, Max Cady is released. He promptly tracks down Sam Bowden, a lawyer whom he holds personally responsible for his conviction because Sam interrupted his attack and testified against him.
Thompson’s version casts Bowden as good and Cady as evil but in Scorsese’s take, it’s murkier, with Cady being an antihero and Bowden being a crooked lawyer who cheats on his wife and is violent to her and their teenage daughter.
The point of this breakdown is simple: The flawed logic of a 1991 major motion picture is still being employed in society and in our world, skateboarding with many subscribing to the belief that accusations are merely a “digital cry for attention,” completely ignoring the severity and difficulty involved in coming forward.
The below comments are from Stuckey’s “apology” post.
Cassiwolf Dust yourself off and keep moving forward my dude. Life will go on, evolve with time, don’t stay a caveman. I really respect this post and I’m always rooting for the guy that had everything, lost everything, and then came back 10 times stronger. This is what makes life worth it, although the times are tough you are not a piece of shit, keep your head up, look forward, keep walking, evolve. Sending love your way man ❤
Drip.skywalker It’s all good you showed nothin but love and respect when I met you I’m still a fan keep skatin fam don’t let this shit bring you down 💯
Fiftyeightdollars Bro are they tryna cancel my favorite skater
Cupmanwun Its not an easy topic to touch on. Mistakes are apart of life and shit happens. People that are commenting negative things on this post is not perfect such as myself. You just learn to live with the pain and go on with your life. Don’t beat yourself over it. You’re doing the right thing.
Stay up, Stay Alive.
PS. WKND sucks anyways. ❤️
Old_gregggggg We are only human. We all make mistakes. Learn from them and keep going forward. I’m always going to be a fan of your skating. Good luck with everything!
Andrewferguson__ MUCH LOVE YOUR THE BEST!! ONLY THING TO DO IS MOVE FORWARD AND BETTER YOURSELF!!🖤🖤
Kreevessuperman 💯 First part is realizing the problem. Taking big and small steps. Wishn the best for you! We’re all in this together 🖤⚡️👊🏾⚡️
Weast__coast This is a huge step dude. Acknowledging your actions and admitting that apology it’s not enough is a good start. I got faith in people with that mindset and hope you commit to this lifestyle you proposed. Stay happy and stay learning.
__di69ler What about the girl that gave him herpes? 🤔 are we gonna slide in her dms and give her shit too? The comments man!!! 😂
Shlaaamin Why’s no one angry at the person who gave johan da erp
Itsbeenarealone Dammit why they gotta cancel my favorite skater, even skating getting soft now. That’s fucked up what you did but that’s personal shit, shouldn’t have to announce it to the world. I can’t take this woke society anymore, we all got demons none of y’all perfect. 2020 makes me sick
Something_tropical_atriverside Herpes isn't easy to talk about brother, I get where you're coming from because I'm in the same boat. But you're doing great and we love you for it. Keep pushing ❤
A_genoe Fuck dude. Just let the guy skate. Fuck 2020
Sammylevy things happen❤️
Like many of Stuckey’s followers and friends, the comment from OldDirtyBoosh is not only ridiculous but emblematic of exactly what Stuckey wanted to achieve from his post. Stuckey was caught and made a statement. This wasn’t his conscious speaking. Stuckey was caught and even in his apology, it’s transparent that he lacked empathy. In an episode of Skatetalk Live, which Boosh is a co-host, Stuckey used racial slurs several times and made light of other sexual encounters.
The episode has since been taken down.
On July 2, 2020, WKND Skateboards severed their relationship with Stuckey in a lengthy post, mentioning that they also were removing a video of him making offensive remarks:
We’ve taken down the roast of Johan video as it contained jokes centered around behavior we do not support, and especially now that new context has been brought to our attention. These jokes were hurtful and insensitive to the Victims. We take responsibility and apologize for giving this a platform.
As Stuckey stated in his initial apology, he is now “taking time to better educator himself of what is inappropriate to say… and why these things are hurtful.”
So both WKND and Stuckey have been unaware in recent years that the N-Word is offensive, rape jokes are offensive, and knowingly spreading sexually transmitting diseases is not only physically harmful but also wildly amoral.
If we are to believe these are earnest apologies then skateboarding has a massive education and sensitively problem. This is partially true as most people in the skateboarding industry lack college degrees and or high school degrees. There is no training in the skate industry which is predominantly run by white CIS males. Skate media also mirrors this and lacks culpability—they delete rather than printing retractions. The closest there is to standard driven organizations is USA Skateboarding—the US governing body who presides over the Olympic teams. There is little visibility or responsibility, therefore as serious issues arise we are offered apologies from brands or pros are given media platforms to curate their statements such as Jason Jessee on the Nine Club.
Because every issue in society, not just skateboarding, becomes political instantly and there is an overarching lack of and resistance to organization, there’s no clear answer other than a push to advocacy and allyship. As individuals, the cliché “vote with your dollar” is paramount to those who wish to foster a more positive environment. Everyone, specifically the men in skateboarding can learn to believe victims in the same way they cling to “innocent until proven guilty.”
Adopt the same standards as you would of George Floyd. If you believe that his prior life has no bearing on how the police mishandled his arrest that led to his murder, you should have no problem believing an accusation and supporting the victim rather than offering support for a skateboarder because you like their video parts.
This is bullshit. This is celebrity. This is Kobe shit. This is “he was always cool to me” shit. This is “where is the evidence?'“ shit.
It’s regressive, it’s harmful, it’s toxic, and because there’s no blanket solution skateboarding and skateboarders as a whole need to be more aware of signals that things aren’t right.
The perpetual children that run skateboarding aren’t presenting solutions and will only offer reactive apologies to guard their brands. We can’t change that but we can increase our awareness and sensitivity. Fuck, the SLAP Boards could start by moderating comments, banning certain language through filters or just realizing that it’s too difficult to maintain a space where serious allegations can turn into rape jokes and political dissertations that completely ignore the severity and humanity of the issues in this thing we call skateboarding.
Here’s a thought.
Since we’re all at different levels of quarantine and staying at home, perhaps a massive industry video chat moderated by the organizations and advocates in skating who don’t have a voice is the first step in productive dialog and progress. Maybe?
Brands don’t have to be woke but they should care about laws and the social contracts we adhere to including an intolerance to hate speech, victim shaming, and other violations that would get most civilians fired from their jobs.
Yes, this is an alternate reality but it doesn’t have to be gross one so while we’re waiting for the next fake apology or backpedaling—if you truly care—start thinking about who you follow, support, and endorse and what you tolerate without speaking out. Work to rewire the backward thinking that was built into your experience and if you believe in the “shut up and skate” mantra, dig into the “shut up” part and just listen.