Is the surf industry shackled by payola?
Surf industry award season is now finished in both The United States and Australian and what a thrill. What an absolute thrill. In case you are some sort of dipshit and NOT glued to your computer screen to catch all the star-studded surf industry action you can catch up on the SIMA awards (US) here and the SBIA awards (Aus) here.
Rip Curl did very well on both continents as did RVCA, Billabong, Oakley. Old wonderful standards of the surf industry game but you may wonder about newer brands like Rolling Death Maui, Necro, Octopus… Why no awards for them?
The truth may shock.
Both SIMA and SBIA make brands pay into the associations in order to be considered for the prestige of winning Manufacturer of the Year or Customer Service Department of the Year.
And don’t this just smack of payola?
From the turn of the century to the 1950s, the big record labels would pay radio stations to play their music. The practice essentially squished newcomer dreams while creating an impenetrable monopoly for the top players. An awful thing that was, thankfully, outlawed in the early 1960s.
And shame SHAME on the SIMAs and the SBIAs for holding the little guy down. For not allowing him even the CHANCE to lift a plexiglass trophy above his head and shout, “My short pants are winners!”
Yet I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our surf industry.
Five score years ago, a great American named Neil Ridgway, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of North Korean Rip Curl slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.
But a couple years later, the smaller surf brand still is not free. A couple years later, the life of the smaller surf brand is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. A couple years years later, the smaller surf brand lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. A couple years later later, the smaller surf brand is still languished in the corners of American and Australian society and finds himself in exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.
In a sense we’ve come to BeachGrit to cash a check. When the architects of our surf industry wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every surf brand was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, small as well as Billabong, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of plexiglass trophies. It is obvious today that America and Australia has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her smaller surf brands are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America and Australia have given the smaller surf brands a bad check, a check which has come back marked insufficient funds.
But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this surf industry. And so we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and good placement in surf shops and the security of justice.
We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America and Australia of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of surf industry democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of financial justice. Now is the time to lift our industry from the quicksands of brand injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make surf brand justice a reality for all of God’s children.
I have a dream that one day this surf industry will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all brands are created equal.”
I have a dream that one day on the white sands of Snapper Rocks, the sons of Former and the sons of Quiksilver will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the city of Torquay, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream.