In every way but also two very important ones.
Our own Rory Parker wrote, passionately and eloquently, not one week ago that skateboarding is better than surfing. “Other than the whole slamming-face-first-onto-concrete side of the sport, skating is pretty much better than surfing in every way…” he says.
He included progression, lack of interest in contests, superior art in his reasoning and when I read, and saw the attached Big Brother magazine photos and older videos I thought, “Oh Rory…you are wonderful but also wonderfully wrong!”
I’ve met hundreds, maybe thousands, of people who point to skate’s superiority over surf and most of them also point to Big Brother. “So raw!” they crow. “So unafraid!” But do you want to know something? Big Brother stopped publishing magazines in 2004, over a decade ago or an eternity in popular culture terms. It is no longer relevant in any way, shape or form.
Today’s skateboarding is different. Totally fine but not better than surfing and I won’t give three reasons, I’ll give two. Li’l Wayne and Justin Bieber.
The pop stars have embraced skateboarding like no famous person has maybe ever embraced surfing. Li’l Wayne has started a skate label (Trukfit) and Bieber’s newest music video is a pure skate feat. Ryan Sheckler (who sparkles) but also himself doing nollies or something. They both go to skate contests. They both feel comfortable showing off their skillz. And they shouldn’t! I’ve seen Weezy skate and he is terrible. A total embarrassment. Yet when he shows up at skate films the crowd erupts. I would like to think that if he showed up at surf films, after bogging rail, the crowd would boo. Also Bieber is as awkward on a skateboard as he is dancing. I don’t know why they feel so comfortable embracing skate publicly. I don’t know why skate lets themselves be embraced so publicly but it ain’t a great look.
Certainly many famous people surf, or try to surf, but none of them start labels and none of them make surf videos. And Cody Simpson doesn’t count as famous.
Surfing is better because it self-regulates, ruthlessly. It is the most fascist subculture on earth save Neo-Nazism (I once edited a whole Stab issue under this theme! You can maybe buy it here!) In any case, surfing is the narrow path and that makes it gorgeous but also, and really, getting into the saltwater and gliding on God’s energy beats everything but sex. And it always will.