Writer, Surfer

The Inertia

Everybody loves Dane, don’t they? The entire surf world loves him unconditionally. Dane Reynolds could take a shit in public, and the surf industry would laud him as a tortured, free spirit. Perhaps it’s his tousled hair and permanent expression of cute bemusement. Perhaps it’s his aloofness. Or perhaps it’s just his transcendent carves that could make you secrete bodily fluids. And while I will never criticize Dane’s surfing – for it does make me gasp and glow – I think it’s worth pointing out one or two criticisms that the surf industry will never lodge about him or his new film, Chapter Eleven. Judging by the constant outpour of gushing reviews from surf media the world over, you’d think Chapter 11 just beat out Shawshank Redemption for most impactful socially conscious film ever. While the surfing is pretty spectacular, and the art direction is interesting, the content of the voiceover, honestly, is jarring.

Firstly, and screamingly obviously, is that everything Dane says in Chapter Eleven – especially with regard to his disillusionment with tying capitalism to surfing and benefiting immensely from that arrangement – is totally undermined by advertising his new brand “Former” at the end of the piece. Did nobody really realize that Chapter 11 is actually just a commercial? Ironic, huh. It’s akin to having an AA meeting then all going out afterward to smash some shots in celebration of the meeting. It’s short-sighted at best and hypocritical as fuck at worst.

“Let’s band together and rage against the machine!” says Dane. And how? Well, by starting our own faceless, corporate entity, of course! He fronts like he’s Sarah Connor, but he’ll be shagging Arnie before we know it.

I also take issue with his little dismissive diatribe about who to thank. As he says: “I feel like I should thank Quiksilver…but who is Quiksilver? Who do I thank? Everyone I knew that worked there is gone.”

Well, Dane, unless you mean “gone” as in dead, then presumably there are human beings who helped you that you could still namecheck, whether they work for Quik or not anymore. And failing that, how about you just give a nod to the fans? An acknowledgement to the surf fans of the world who gobble up every meager scrap of surf meal that you deign to throw them like desperate, pathetic little chickens. These people have made you a millionaire because they like watching you ride a surfboard. They deserve a little credit.

Don’t get me wrong. Us, fans, are definitely interested in knowing Dane’s less-filtered thoughts around the evolution of his career, and that level of candor requires courage. It leaves Dane vulnerable to criticisms that might not feel good to hear, so bravo. Much respect there. And respectfully, it doesn’t seem like he has a rich drawing pool of issues that might inspire a short film’s worth of complaints or anxiety attacks – when contextualized from the perspective of, you know, a citizen on earth. Life can actually be really hard. Like not even coping with surf industry sponsorships hard. Just hard.

I want to know what Dane plans to do that’s different or more worthwhile? For a start, how do you plan to operate a successful business that doesn’t shit all over someone? Former, like Quiksilver, is subject to the laws of the free market and will need to eventually turn a profit and maximize its investments, too. Otherwise it will disappear.

Is that okay?

Surely the noble thing to do (if Dane truly has a deep personal conflict with the idea of attaching surfing and his likeness to a commercial enterprise) would be to disappear altogether. To walk away. Get rid of that corporate monster called Vans and the other patrons who supply that sweet surfin’ cash. Ditch it all, look after your family, surf. Be grateful that you made millions of dollars from surfing when you felt like it. Be grateful that you are a rich, white man living in an affluent coastal suburb. Be grateful that you traveled the world to surf and have had incredible experiences. But most of all, stop pimping yourself out in order to try to sell us stuff. If it’s truly so conflicting, then it’s disingenuous. Better yet, why not do your part to fundamentally change the tie between your profession and your artistic integrity and hold your head high? At its best, that’s what Former can do. Here’s to hoping that’s what it does.

Dane Reynolds in his new film, Chapter 11.

Dane Reynolds in his new film, Chapter 11. Looking not stoked.


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