Absurdities and BS!
Watching Volcom’s BS! film I am moved in a way that I haven’t experienced from any other hi-performance surf film for a long long time. Perhaps it’s the way that Dusty Payne and Mitch Coleborn appear as if they were skating a concrete pool as opposed to surfing steep hollow waves. The way that they can at once carve powerful turns and brake the fins free is beyond my comprehension. And then there’s the “over the coping” air show that is as functional as it is radical. But it isn’t just the surfing. There’s more there and I think it’s a new attitude and a look into the absurdities that exist in modern surf culture.
Directed by Ryan Thomas and with music by Everybody, BS! appears on the surface to be another high action flick but there are subtleties which foreshadow a younger generation of surfers who are looking at surfing through fresh eyes and doing so without any hangups. There’s a scene early in the film where the guys are asked who inspires them. There’s no awkwardness in their silence. No one mentions the usual Slater, Curren, Occy, Lopes bit. Then there’s a pro vs. free-surf discussion that cuts to a funny scene of David Rastovich falling off a wave and turning into a dolphin. And finally, the scene of a board shooting out over the top of a wave and knocking a pre-historic pterodactyl out of the sky as if to mark the end of an epoch.
We don’t usually do film reviews on Phoresia and come to think of it this isn’t really a review. I was inspired to write about BS! because the film caused me to think about my own surfing in a different way. In surfing culture there tends to be an unwavering reverence for surf heroes and icons of the past. There is also an unwillingness to be critical about the culture which seems to be a cultural phenomenon about surfing. These views are contrary to the individuality and creativity of surfing as an activity. But the marriage of capitalism to the culture has blurred the lines between what’s real and what’s contrived.
I often think of how absurd our modern lives are. How most of us spend our days doing something that we don’t really care to do and daydream about what we’d love to be doing. Our diets are absurd. Our standard of living and the way we waste resources is absurd. Our gazillion subcultures and how seriously we take ourselves is absurd and yet more often than not those absurdities pass over our heads unseen like bats in the night. So when I am reminded of those absurdities I laugh at myself and relax a little. I realize that things are simpler than I make them out to be. I remember that I surf because it’s fun and because it is funny. BS! is essentially an absurd look at our current surf culture, encompassing both a critique and a sobering view into the sports progression, and it does so with humour and style. What else can you ask for from a film?