Yes, whether we like it or not, it’s money that always reigns at the end of the day. It is, after all, what makes this world go round.
The general argument, in very simplified terms, is that humans are inherently selfish and greedy, and with that comes capitalism, and as a result of that comes the power of corporations.
It’s like a massive web of codependent relationships.
And there’re far fewer than six degrees of separation between you and the main brain at IBM, or the guy who owns McDonald’s, or Nike, Apple, Coke, Ford, or Nestlé. Or for that matter, Vans, Globe, DC, Billabong, and Quiksilver.
Remember back in the 90s when Nike tried to enter the skate market, and everyone thought it was really lame? And now, Nike Dunks have been selling out within minutes by the boatload at “‘core” skate shops across the country. Why? Well, Nike is still the same company it was back then. Is the company’s marketing better? Sure. Has Nike finally hired people who understand skateboarding? Yes. Is Nike’s motivation any different than what it was in the 90s? It’s unlikely. The point is, everyone’s driven by the dollar. A ‘core shop isn’t going to turn down an opportunity to make money in the same way a big business won’t-it’s just on a different scale.
Where do I even begin to discuss the countless conversations that filled the SKATE Biz office during the making of this issue? Here are some snippets:
“I don’t even notice them anymore.”
“Why don’t they fucking leave us alone?”
“I don’t think anyone really gives a shit anymore.”
“Everything is corporate.”
It’s the last one that stands out most to me. Yes, everything is corporate. And when I say everything, I mean that everything is either corporate or directly affected by a corporation. Surely there’s no denying this. So if you can’t fight ’em, should you join ’em?
A Brief Lesson In U.S. Politics
The months-in some cases, even the years-immediately following a war are times of huge economic shift. In retrospect, Clinton did a great job of cleaning up the mess that Bush Senior made during the Gulf War-he reduced the deficit and encouraged a booming economy, helping to create a time of prosperity in America, and related economies worldwide. However, a few years later when Bush Junior’s Operation Iraqi Freedom came into effect, the economy took a turn.
So basically, it’s the perfect time for a corporate America issue, right? The corporations are what control the economy, and that’s what controls you-the retailers and the companies. How are we all supposed to recover from a war-torn (or in conservative terms, a war-benefited) economy? Note-increased stock values can be a great way to gain public support of a Republican-led war that the public didn’t entirely want. And stocks were doing pretty well around the time of kickoff of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Hopefully one glorious day soon, the war that has been going since the industrial revolution (between citizen and system) will soon be over. And by that point, the world’s nations will begin to focus their efforts and energy on rebuilding their social/cultural fabric, and also their economies.
How does this relate to skateboarding? Well, skateboarders, for the most part, have been fighting a war with corporate America since the beginning. As Ocean Howell writes in his article this issue: “Skateboarding subverted corporate America, so corporate America repressed skateboarding.”
The world’s skateboarders have a responsibility to skateboarding to maintain and further build the social and cultural fabric of skateboarding-to keep its energy and all of the grassroots companies alive. Corporate America can see what skateboarders represent, and fortunately for their shareholders, skateboarders are still quite marketable.
Like most people, I’ve had my struggles coming to terms with the reality of corporate America. Here’s a little framework to help ease the process:
(a) Corporate America is a reality.
(b) Sure they’re making money off of skateboarding, and no, they probably wouldn’t care about it if they weren’t, but …
(c) Skateboarders are finally making a lot of money.
(d) Through its popularity, skateboarding has been introduced to thousands of kids who will hopefully skateboard for a long, long time.
(e) Most cities are down for the whole skatepark cause now.
(f) The popularity of skateboarding has also opened other doors for skateboarders who are interested in other pursuits, like acting, directing, music, and art.
(g) Cell-phone companies now throw big-bucks skateboard contests.
The point? Corporate America won’t bother you once you figure out how to make it work for you. It’s a matter of seeing the glass as half full rather than half empty.
Skateboarders need to work with their local scenes to build them and to enrich them. Ignorance isn’t bliss-it’s apathy, and that never saved anything. Concern should be objective. In order to maximize the benefit, don’t approach with resistance. Corporations are here to stay, so instead of fighting against them, perhaps it’s wiser to work with them to make the right decisions, ones that benefit skateboarders. If nobody tells them when they’re wrong, how will they know?
Skater-run shops now need to approach the issue of chain stores carrying decent-quality boards with the understanding that ‘core shops will always be able to offer services and an environment no chain store ever will. And although corporations may try to cash in on skateboarding, what they don’t know is that skateboarding itself will never be corporate.