THE SIGNIFICANCE OF CREDITS
Behind a New Piece on Shari White's Latest Video for Vans.
PHOTO COURTESY OF VANS
Last week Jenkem Magazine posted my latest piece about Vans and Shari White’s new video CREDITS. Normally I leverage this newsletter to put a new thought out there or to give some raw material a place to live. So while I’m working on some new, robust ramblings, I wanted to give a bit of context to said new piece.
Throughout my time at Pushing Boarders in 2019 I did a lot of listening and left with a notebook of takeaways. The most significant baseline issue that continually came up was the relationship between skateboarders and skate media. In fact, in analyzing this for months since the conference, it became almost a parallel to how people view media in general and why they are often frustrated with it.
In our circle/world, it’s important to understand that “skate media” is much more akin to fashion journalism rather than actual journalism with some exceptions of course. What’s most problematic is the lack of facts, context, and history. For example, skateboarding lacks a definitive text or even documentation of who invented every trick and when. Media rarely reaches back more than a few years or tries to tie past events to the present, allowing readers/viewers to understand history if they so desire.
While there are many examples of deep dives into significant moments in skateboarding, it’s often very “in the moment” or driven by advertorial in the sense that modern skate media was shaped by magazines that were vehicles to promote truck brands. (if you’re interested in that topic, start here.) Also, the role of women and minorities in skateboarding has become forgotten or largely ignored. Most aren’t aware or even care that Thrasher Magazine was co-founded by an immigrant from Argentina and Transworld Skateboarding Magazine’s co-founder was a woman named Peggy Cozens. Cozens specifically had a profound impact on skateboarding by setting the tone for TWS.
“The first issue of TWS contained the article "Skate and Create" and its author Peggy Cozens noted, "I have become increasingly concerned about a new skate attitude being pushed on skaters: Skate and Destroy.” She highlighted the positive and creative side of skating. The stance of the new magazine remained positive, to the extent that even Thrasher owner Fausto Vitello wrote, "They were about Skate and Create; we were about Skate and Destroy."
As one person with one voice, it’s difficult to try to infuse heritage into pieces, especially without sources but what I can do is try to add some legs to long-form topics and projects, which is why I was excited to work on CREDITS and answer a simple question: With so many women skateboarding for such a long time, why are there so few videos documenting them and why is the exposure limited for what does exist?
It’s easy to surmise that skateboarding is largely a male-dominated industry but that doesn’t paint the full picture or address change. In fact, by just saying “it’s all dudes,” adds to the frustration and polarizes skateboarding but to understand why it’s been that way allows people to change the status quo. While my piece on CREDITS is certainly not a rallying cry to alter the industry’s DNA, it’s purpose is to learn more about a project that captured skateboarding in a unique and exciting way, and sprinkle in some history.
Had I not had the opportunity to attend Pushing Boarders and speak to so many people, I might not have recognized or understood how to bring things to light in this way in a piece that’s essentially breaking down a skate video and that’s been the most powerful and lasting learning from the experience. I thank Shari White, Alex White, and the staff of Jenkem for working with me on this and lending so much insight to make the piece as informative and punchy as possible.
I hope you dig it and then dig into some projects you might not have been aware of.