Here’s the conspiracy theory: American surf media produces banal catalogs because of the brands. Those greedy bastards only care about selling more threads to the masses, which means surfing must be packaged in a sunny, positive, healthy wrapper for the conservative hoards. The brands control the media, because without the advertising dollars of the major brands, the mags/websites would fold. So when someone in the media steps out of line, and says something unfavorable, the brands have them disappeared. According to this conspiracy theory, I said something unfavorable about Billabong – so Billabong had me canned.
It makes for a good story – but it’s not true. As far as I know Billabong had nothing to do with me being fired. Instead, surf media editors censor themselves, dilute their own content, and spoon-feed surfers pablum each month because the surf media is run by uncreative ball-lickers who are all but incapable of original thought. They rely on the brands to provide them with stories via press releases, contests, and sponsor-organized photo trips.
Yesterday, Billabong linked to PostSurf from their
Back when I used to write for the official surf media, I’d always bring a few copies of
“It’s not the brands who are making surfing boring,” I’d tell them. “The brands are willing to be associated with this fuckery! We’re the ones making surfing boring.”
So while Vice documents leper colonies, submarine drug-smuggling, and the Chinese government harvesting internal organs of political prisoners, we get "When Groms Attack." While Vice puts up photo essays of naked hipster chicks, teens huffing nitrous, and amputee veterans, we get another advertorial “story” about the making of a Taylor Steele film. Don’t blame Quiksilver – they put their Retro Boarshsort ad in Vice’s Mexican issue, which included a lengthy article on homemade Mexican porn.
I'm not suggesting that US surf mags should look like Vice - I'm just suggesting that they have more lattitude than they think to reflect the subversive and anti-establishment roots of surfing.