18/02/2014 | by Sam Oetiker
I can’t be the only one doing this. It is just too much jolly good fun.
Do you ever find yourself turning things, or people, or concepts into animals in your head? Like, for example, the US-American ultraconservative Tea Party as one of those frantically barking, constantly panic-stricken Paris-Hilton-calibre Chihuahuas? Or (beware: blasphemy ahead…) Queen Elizabeth II as a smug, complacent kind of toad? Or the 2008 financial crisis as a bloated, hungover-looking bull – charging full-blast into a solid wall of bulletproof glass (flattened face smearing slowly off to lower left corner included)?
I would picture professional snowboarding as two dogs. The dog’s master was once snowboarding itself, which kind of poses a challenge to the whole analogy because a dog being his own master is somehow not very dog… But it’s all good, doesn’t matter, because lucky us, corporate companies have stepped in and taken the master’s role, mercifully ridding us of our conceptuo-metaphorical problem.
So there we are: corporate big-suit master and his two dogs. The younger one I would imagine to be some kind of lassie-like, pedigree dog-show winning hyper-breed. It’s doing all within its power to be a very good dog indeed and will, on command, perform any trick you could ever ask from a dog and then some. Like any good dog, it has never questioned why it is doing this and doesn’t really understand how exactly master determines on each occasion whether the given performance was better or worse than the last one. But then again, it never really was one of the sharper tools in the shed, so to say. After all, with those kind of looks and skills, who needs brains, right? Let’s call that dog “Contest”.
The older dog I would picture as slyer and a bit shaggier, though rather an intentional kind of shaggy. “Shaggy chic”, maybe? Anyways, that dog still remembers the time before the new master, and despite all the whiplashes and treats, it has remained stubborn and loyal to the olden days. It makes a proud point of refusing to be judged or jumping through hoops on command. Let’s call that dog “Video”.
New master decidedly prefers the “Contest” dog. It is predictable, it is compatible to mass-market brand building, it asks little and delivers a lot. A little while back, “Video” had become more and more of a thorn in new master’s side. It was getting unruly, started acting up and showing manners and behaviour learned in the early days before the new master had stepped in. Frankly, it was turning back into a bit of a punk. But new master was not to be rejected so easily.
First, new master started handing out amounts of dog-treats that were simply mind-rending to poor old “Video” who had known times of near-starvation in his young years. So the tragedy unfolded and in the first of what was to be the two defining events of the breaking of “Video’s” will and dignity, “Video” started picking up the treats and consequently accepted a big, malign-tumor-degree ugly Energy Drink logo patched to its forehead. Seeing victory within reach, new master hatched the second half of his plan and devised a way to finally make “Video” jump hoops and surrender to judgement after all. New master called it “Real Snow” and in days to come it will be regarded as the one thing to herald the end of an era and of what “Video” had stood for until then.
Nowadays, “Contest” and “Video” sit pampered on satin cushions, both meticulously groomed, the one continuing to jump after medals and records, the other sitting proud and stupid with the logo to the forehead, awaiting its own annual hoop-jump. Both in absolute servility to their own luxury and the new master who provides them with it. And it is the first time that, instead of making me laugh, my own mind game has me all but reduced to tears.
What do you think of X Games Real Snow? Does it represent core snowboarding selling out to the mass media or a fresh approach to bringing an under-appreciated aspect of snowboarding to a wider audience? And do we even want that in the first place? Let us know in the comments below.