"He understands the biz, you might say…"
We know what Instagram thinks.
Caio Ibelli said, “Your face scares the shit out of me”. A message he’s clearly been drafting for weeks and just waiting for the right moment to slip in.
Tom Carroll, brother of rough-hewn sage Nick Carroll, chipped in with a spunking emoji (though no aubergine).
The artist formerly known as Sal Masekela said he had to “down regulate” just to watch the clip. Falling into his trap, I had to google “down regulate” and now understand that Selema must be some kind of super warrior fitness guru guy. Like really, totally in the health zone. Like next level biological shit, man.
“Yo, Kelllllllaaayyyyy… you down regulating, bro?” I’d imagine he says.
Joel Parkinson wiped the ketchup off his little sausage fingers to quickly type, “Fuck that!” but with classic flow switched hands and never once stopped chewing.
Maya Gaberia, the WSL’s favoured big wave woman, unleashed her inner Scotsman and simply said “Holy shite”, whilst scratching her balls, presumably.
Chocorompe, the handle of legendary snowboarder Terje Haakonsen, contributed “Holy! Get clean *sponge emoji*” I have no idea what this means, but I have no idea how he rides with those binding angles either, and Terje can do what he likes.
Kelly, of course, was quick to sweep in with a classic shrugging emoji takedown. It must sting that the likes of Kai and Laird, objectively less talented on a surfboard, have carved careers not only financially superior to Kelly (Laird, at least, Kai’s on his way) but they’ve also nailed the one thing Kelly has always coveted: exposure and recognition from the mainstream.
But Lenny’s success comes at a price.
He genuinely could have selfied himself drowning at Nazaré, and he might do it yet.
His clip will go viral, probably in the real world as well as ours. And at the very least, his 700k followers and the cream of world surfing have gobbled it up.
He understands the biz, you might say.
Sure, he’s whoring himself out at the possible expense of his life, but he’s getting to fuck about in the water for a living.
Is that an acceptable trade off?
It’s not tragic to die doing what you love, said Mark Foo and Bodhi from Point Break, shortly before dying doing what they loved.
If Kai Lenny does drown, gawking at a GoPro, not only will he have died doing what he loves (filming himself), but at this stage he might be an outright legend.
The potential greatest ever. The Steve Prefontaine of surfing.
I’m sure he doesn’t see it like this, but worth the gamble, you think?
On one hand, I have deep admiration for him; on the other, I think he’s a bit of a knob.
Ensuring your selfie stick is pointing the right way during a multiple wave hold down could be looked on as next level vanity. It might also be seen as a necessity in order to sustain his career in a sport where the only payoff comes via the attention economy.
But still, I can’t help feeling that Lenny has blighted the experience somehow.
There were others who braved these giant, perfect waves, these once-in-a-decade conditions. Their experiences, dramatic and captured as they may also be, will now be relegated to footnotes.
Has Kai Lenny leeched something from the others just to feed his own, personal brand?
And worse, has he made a mockery of it, perhaps belittling a critical situation by holding a camera throughout?
And what if he had drowned?
Would we see him as a hero, or as a fool?