Saturday, October 3, 2015

I Finally Figured Why Chris Chann Bothers Me

Quite a while ago, I watched this video, and it bothered me. I couldn't put my finger on why it bothered me, but the whole thing was very uncomfortable.


I thought maybe I was just off-put by how short the match was. After all, Chris won with just 7 tricks in a contest where it's not unusual to see pros volley 10 tricks back and forth before someone gets a letter. Maybe it's all in my head.

After I rewatched it though, I realized that I was actually just uncomfortable because of how little I related to Chris Chann. Let me explain:



It seems like Chris Chann and I should have a lot in common. We are both fairly young skateboarders (although I definitely have a few years on him). He's not pro, I'm not pro. He's just a kid with a YouTube channel who happens to be really good at skateboarding. Bastien Salabanzi, on the other hand, is larger than life in my eyes. When he was Chris' age, he was already well into his career as a professional spot-slaughterer with the Flip crew. So if I were in Chris' shoes, I would have savored every second that I got to spend with Bastien, a living legend. I would do my best to calm down and then just have fun playing a game of SKATE. If I went first, I would try a backside flip just so I could watch Bastien do one better than mine. Instead, what I saw was a kid trying to win. He wasn't playing a game- he was setting out to beat the guy as efficiently as possible. He didn't bother with a kickflip or a 360 flip. He started with a hardflip (which I don't ever remember seeing Bastien do) and he ended with a harder variation on a hardflip.

It almost seemed disrespectful. And then he posted this terribly boring video with the least sincere modesty I've ever seen. If you don't care to watch a teenager play video games in his room and then observe his friend insert an awkward prayer into a conversation while another friend tries and fails to be funny, then go ahead and skip to 2:30 in the video.


There's no way you're surprised that you won, Chris. Everyone knows what tricks Bastien has on lock- kickflips, backside flips, half cab flips, cab flips, fakie flips, 360 flips, switch heels, nollie backside heels, switch frontside 360's. Chris intentionally avoided all of them, and then when he won, he complained about how sketchy his tricks are. YOU JUST SKUNKED A PROFESSIONAL SKATEBOARDER. It's good to be modest, but don't pretend like you weren't being competitive and talk about how 'lucky' you were to win your game after not missing a single trick. That's not being nice and then modest- that's being disrespectful and then insincere.

I want to be clear. I'm not trying to construct internet hate rhetoric in this post. I'm just expressing an opinion that I think reflects how I (and other people) feel about the world of skateboarding right now.

One of the biggest changes in most of our lives stems from the fact that we have access to virtually unlimited entertainment online. It's changing the way we entertain ourselves. Since skateboarders have long entertained themselves with skate videos, it makes sense that our culture has also made a fundamental shift in our attitude towards skate videos, which by extension changes our viewpoints on skateboard culture. So what we've seen is the emergence of YouTube personalities with skateboards, a phenomenon that most of us don't really know how to feel about. The most quintessential examples would include many of the guys who are associated with Revive Skateboards. Guys like Andy Schrock and Aaron Kyro. If you don't know who I'm talking about, go search their names on YouTube. I'll wait... You back? Yea. Those guys.

There's also this guy, who appears to mostly just apologize for how bad his video is as he's filming it:

 For those of us who remember a time before YouTube, this is weird because that kind of figure had never existed in skateboarding before. When it came to skate videos, people only really watched them if a company put out the video. You only became a form of entertainer when you contributed to a skateboard video worth watching, and most of what you were actually doing was skateboarding. You were a skateboarder, but one who used their skateboarding to inspire other people to skate. What we're seeing now is a group of people that are entertainers first and skateboarders second.

The reason this is a hard notion to accept is that Chris Chann isn't a natural entertainer. He speaks in a monotone and often mumbles. Most of his videos amount to him opening a box on camera. And yes, when a big part of your life consists of making talking videos that get 60,000 views in the first week, you are an entertainer. Period. Yes, he's a kid messing around in front of a camera. But when you post videos on a weekly basis and make considerable ad money off of it, you are absolutely an entertainer.

And there's nothing wrong with any of that- I really mean that. If people enjoy watching him and he enjoys making stuff for people to watch, that's a good thing. I doubt he will ever read this, but Chris, if you're reading this, I want to say that you're an amazing skateboarder and I look forward to seeing more of your skating in the future, even if I find your level of authenticity underwhelming.

Having said that, these YouTube skate personalities still make me feel uncomfortable, because they represent the younger generation of skateboarders that I can't relate to. They're less than a decade younger than me, but their entire understanding of skateboarding as an art and inspiration is different because they don't really remember a time before YouTube. Those of you who think that's an exaggeration- it's really not. YouTube is now 10 years old, which means that you pretty much have to be at least 14 years old to really remember what life was like before it was insanely easy to dig up countless hours of videos online.

So I watch unboxing video after unboxing video get posted, on top of 'day in the life' videos getting posted practically once a month, and I simply don't get it. Why is it that everything a human does is important all of the sudden? Meanwhile all the younger kids can't figure out why the older kids are so mean and bitter. It's because you confuse us, younger kids. We weren't expecting to be confounded by youth until we were at least 40, but here I am in my mid-twenties and I have already given up on trying to understand youth culture.

It's not all bad though, because despite me complaining about how little I have in common with Chris Chann and every other young skater by extension, we actually are bonded together through at least one thing- we love skateboarding. We might not enjoy it the same way, but it will always be the common language that we speak and the obsession that we share. I feel super awkward talking to ten year-olds, but if they skate, the awkwardness melts away and my tendency goes towards brotherhood and understanding.

That's how rad skateboarding is.

14 comments:

  1. The internet have simply changed lives of many on the planet, offering everyone a great platform to connect, socialize, get updated, get entertained, the one very great thing the internet has given all is amusement and fun that is non-stop. One such example that clearly defines fun that is profound and endless is what the online games are all about. A rage no more among the youngsters, but people of every age group, today many new games have made entry into this online gaming world entailing endless number of games and thus endless ways to have fun anytime.

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  2. I feel like if overestimated Bastien Salabanzi..that's why he took it so hard. Not because he knew he'd skunk him, that was definitely a surprise. As for him being monotone and not entertaining? I've never even thought of him as monotone. And review his videos, I still don't :P As for not entertaining, that's just your opinion.

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    1. It's totally possible that Chris Chann overestimated Bastien, but Bastien was also in BATB 6 where he lost to Moose, and I sorta figured Chris Chann probably came across that match at some point, seeing as how he was probably told in advance who he would be up against. Maybe Chris just opens every game of SKATE with a hardflip and that's all it was- I obviously don't know.

      Me not finding him entertaining is of course just my opinion, but then again, this whole blog post is just my opinion. It's just interesting to talk about is all. I'll also say that I think he's gotten a bit better in front of the camera since I wrote this back in October, although he's ventured into cringeworthy territory with his, "Skate Tricks for a Kiss" videos. I can't watch more than a minute of those without just feeling bad for the girls, as they usually look sorta uncomfortable and the whole premise is sort of dumb to begin with.

      But yea, just more opinions dude. Thanks for commenting!

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  3. So? It's a contest where skaters go to win. If you want to play a friendly game of SKATE with Bastien do it before or after the Contest game. BATB is all about winning, the contestants have been training for it hard beforehand. It's like saying: I competed in Street League but I wanted to show my weird excitement, and not show any disrespect so I ollied every obstacle. Nothing else, otherwise it would be disrespectful. BATB is all about destroying someone in SKATE, if you want to have a fun game then don't go to BATB.

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    1. I think you're right- I think that's probably the prevailing attitude. But I would also argue that that attitude is the result of a slow change among skateboarders over the last several years. If you look at matches from the first BATB, you'll see them taking the whole thing a lot less seriously, even though there was still prize money at stake. My point isn't that Chris Chann was doing the wrong thing- just that he took the whole thing differently than the generation of skaters before him might have.

      Watch this match from the first BATB and try and tell me it was only about winning: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9QqSxzuijg

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  4. I think I get where you're coming from, man. But that's the reality of today. I used to get so ticked at my buddy back in highschool when I've been playing the guitar for years and my friend just shreds just as good in under a year learning from youtube videos (this was back in 2007 and we live in a 3rd world asian country, internet was slow af so I never bothered).

    I guess what I'm trying to say is it isn't anyone's fault. Not their's for growing up in these times, and neither is it yours for feeling the way you do since you come from a different era. The best the new gen kids can do is acknowledge where it all came from, and that I can appreciate.

    I'm personally a fan of Chris. I like his skating style. I'm 25 idk if that matters but I WAS in to the skate scene back in highschool. I still skate but with cruiser wheels now. And I totally agree with the 'hard to relate to people under a decade younger' thing. Growing up here, our internet and tech wasn't so big back then. It only recently caught up so people who were even just 3 or 4 years younger grew up in a totally different world. This comment has gotten a little longer than I'd planned but anyway, great insight!

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    1. Yea, at the end of the day I can't really blame anyone or even say if things are better or worse now, but it's definitely different. Thanks for commenting.

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  5. This whole rant wreaaaaaks of condescention and envy. It was a competition, i mean they had a bracket system and everything. So he did his tricks to win, thats what you do in competition....try to win. i mean there was an audience, this wasnt just some game at a skatepark amongst friends. youre missing the whole point. it seems the source of your rant is just that chris beat the guy you seem to have admired for a while. Also, you say youre in your mid twenties, chriss chann is 23 and aaron kyro is in his 30's. In summary, i think it is your own insecurities and expectancies on individual view to be the same as yours, and you appear to be dumbfounded as to how his "monotone" can have 600 k subscribers because he is "unrelatable" to you. you seem like the type of guy who thinksk the big bang theory is funny, because its apparent when youre supposed to laugh. the laughtrack helps. chriss uses what is commmonly described as a dead pan delivery, which requires more attention then the echo chamber youre probably used to. dont get me wrong ive only seen a few of his videos. in conclusion, this article is so undeniably cringey and you appear to be so blissfully unaware of the hypocrisy in its writing. psychology 101. check yourself, before you wreck yourself.

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    1. Of all the things that you say in this comment, I'm most insulted by you saying that I'm the type of person that likes the Big Bang Theory.

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  6. im probably going to sound like a dick...but honestly, this entire blogpost post seems illogical and you just seem confounded throughout as to why things "are" and why they arent what they used to be; but mostly it seems like youre "fanboyism" over bastien sparked the entirety of this rant. some guy beat "your guy" and now youre just trying to make sense of it with a combination of inaccurate observations based on feeling and not interpretation. check yourself, before you wreck yourself. <3

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    1. I mean, the fact that I'm confounded is sort of the whole point of the article. The words, "I simply don't get it" are in the second to last paragraph. I made a point to include some jabs at myself, but I admit I did a poor job of setting up the tone of this article, so it definitely comes across as harsher than I intended. Anyway, thanks for commenting.

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  7. Chris' tricks were a hardflip, a nollie 3-shov, a big spin, a nollie flip, a switch varial heel, a hardflip back 180, and a bigger flip.

    The first four tricks are basic, stock-standard tricks that you would expect anyone participating in BATB to land, and the rest are fairly conventional variations of common tricks. You make it sound like Chris went in with a bunch of late or pressure flips or something, or that he had an obligation to study Bastien beforehand so that he could bust out a few of Bastien's on-lock tricks just to humor him. It's hardly Chris' fault that Bastien could barely land a basic trick that day.

    And even if Chris had thrown out weird stuff, why shouldn't he have been playing to win? Was he there to participate in a world-class competition or to jerk a pro-skater off?

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  8. It sounds like you wanted to be in his place instead. Like, you could do better at what he does and more. Sorry if it's not what you intended to mean, but that's the tone that's glaring at me as I read your article.

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  9. To me the general message of this article seems to be that you have problems relating to younger generations than yours.

    I find this overall a pretty annoying attitute, but alot of people that are getting older develop this mindset.

    I guess it can be hard to accept that things are changing and not like when you were young anymore. Probably it's because people have so many good memories about their youth and can't manage to accept that younger generations are just different, not any better or worse.

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