And you are a noble savage flipping the bird to conformity! No, wait…
You are a sheep.
You have no individual thoughts or instincts. And just because you’re here, at BeachGrit, a corner of the surfing world lit by a dim, flickering light of awareness, you’re not special.
Everything you think and do is unoriginal. You’re just an accumulation of clothes, music, attitudes and ideas that you’ve arranged around yourself, in an effort to have an identity, in an effort to get laid.
If your memory were erased and you found yourself naked, blank and innocent on the shore of the hip surf zone you currently inhabit, would you view those jeans you’re wearing as anything but an absurd encumberance?
Would a skirt not be more comfortable?
And what of that beer brand you favour? The one that denotes your taste, place in society, even the state you live in? Would a green tea not be more refreshing and useful?
Of course! But don’t worry! You’re not alone! Nearly everyone is the same as you. You are made of your history. Only one in a million will possess the necessary intellect and strength of character to break the shackles of their past.
And those that do are usually considered mentally ill. Or actually are.
For the love of absurdity, does this not make the surfing life even richer in paradox?
Freedom! Individuality! Expression! At heart, the qualities that all surf brands trade off. The idea of surfer as noble savage, flipping the bird to desk-jockey conformity and riding off on a pure wave of creativity and enlightenment.
A pure wave of bullshit!
It’s an idea perpetuated by a few isolated moments of weirdness in the 1960s and early 1970s which were in themselves just following the hippy fashion of the time. Surfing is as mainstream as breakfast TV and surfers in general are as incapable of free will as any other herd of humans.
So what should a surf brand do?
In between binges of cocaine and self-loathing, advertising brand strategists sometimes use a thing called “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs” to give a veneer of academic rigour to an occupation that is otherwise as intellectually bereft as a night spent shelfing Xanax on the Gold Coast.
Prof Maslow said that once humans have their basic essentials covered, they head up a pyramid of needs leading to self-actualisation: “What a man can be, he must be.”
And with a sour, trembling hand, our advertising brand strategist will point to the need for a surf brand to find a role in the collective mind of the human herd in order to better sell boardshorts and other non-essentials.
And what role have they found? What do they stand for? The freedom that does not exist! The independence that is not possible! The creativity that is not original!
There isn’t even the fleeting satisfaction of irony. The Xanax has worked its way through the colo-rectal tissue, a warm dullness has spread.
So what should the modern, enlightened surf brand do to better help the human feel self-actualised through their fashion purchases? If you’re still following these terrifying spasms of logic, you’ll be with me when I suggest that it’s time for the dim, flickering light of awareness to blaze a little stronger.
If the herd wants to buy the idea of freedom, show them authentic freedom! Show them a freedom that is not shackled to history, but a freedom that confounds, a freedom that unsettles, a freedom that makes a man see himself for what he is!
It’s time for Rip Curl to sponsor Westerly Windina’s audacious gender swap! It’s time for Volcom to host feminist poetry slams on the North Shore! It’s time for Quiksilver to use only the blackest Africans in every photo shoot!
It’s time for surfing to jerk vivid rainbows of anti-cliché into the collective unconscious.
Those would be boardshorts I can believe in.