Skate videos are one of the most underappreciated form of media out there. They are so unappreciated to the point where, unless you are really into skateboarding, you probably have never sat through one.
With the rising popularity of the VHS in the mid to late 80’s, skate company Powell-Peralta made a bunch of videos showcasing their team’s talent. These videos, most notably 1984’s “Bones Brigade Video Show”, paved the way for the skateboarding industry to make their own creative content.
To an outsider, a skate video seems like footage of different team members doing skate tricks. But this medium of entertainment has so much more to offer. These videos are essentially video mixtapes for a skateboarding team. The whole 40-60 minutes are different segments for each of the team member. Each team member’s segment shows footage of them: showing off what they can do, music in the background, and other random bits that they thought would fit in the video. Each segment is the skater’s opportunity to show off their personality. This can be seen with the music choice and the random bits mentioned before. Usually it’s just them hanging out and doing something for the camera. The finished product is essentially a mix of all the team’s personalities that end up combining to one team identity.
For example, in Ali Boulala’s segment in Flip’s 2002 video “Sorry”, there is a solid minute of footage that features him doing destructive shenanigans like jumping out of a tree, throwing his board above him, spitting, and even letting a cat drop in on his board…yep…a cat. That mixed with the hardcore punk music sums up his personality in the segment. Also, Danny Way through a cake at someone in Plan B’s 1992 “Questionable” video…why you ask? Because it was a fun thing to add to the atmosphere of the video.
Skate videos will also add things not to show off the personalities of these skaters, but to show off the personality of the team. Almost setting up themes and an atmosphere for the video and the videos to come. For example, Bam Margera’s CKY series featured skits and stunts that would later inspire the premise of “Jackass”, however these ridiculous skits were combined with a skating. This skate video showed off the cast’s overall atmosphere of being crazy by doing whatever task they could think of (jumping out of cars into trees) and whatever prank they could think of (pooping in public).
These videos were essentially a mixtape for this team: showing off their music taste, their shenanigans, and their skating. “Sorry” by Flip gave the group of guys a silly and funny personality by having interludes that introduced their skater’s segments coming from a strange and vulgar old man character.
Overall, skate videos are a medium that not many people talk about but they still have all of the elements that a traditional entertainment medium has. It has personality, character, action, some storytelling, and a sense of adventure.