I was reading my friend Adam’s newsletter, Tendrils, and I came upon some quick thoughts about the movie mid90s in a collection of mini-reviews of A24 movies. While Adam enjoyed the movie because it brought back some skateboarding nostalgia, I hated it for much the same reason. It seems like every recent movie or documentary dealing with skateboarding, from mid90s to Minding the Gap, makes it seem like skateboarders are a bunch of lawless teenage punks who have trouble with school or work. I was big into skateboarding in the early 90s, and I didn’t find the stereotype to be true. Some of my friends from that era became software development managers, architects, and worked at major record labels. I would rather not make it sound like a career is the only measurement of success, but these guys clearly didn’t meet the stereotype you see of skateboarders in the media.
Just like more organized sports, I think skateboarding can be a great outlet, provided the skaters have a safe environment in which to practice. The kids on an Arizona Hopi reservation just got that in the form of a skatepark. One of the co-leads on the project, Quintin Nahsonhoya, talks about the positive effect of having a place designated and designed for skateboarding.
“Skateboarders aren’t like how they’re perceived in movies, as punks or like people who just want to get into trouble,” he said. “It’s just a hobby that we have… and the community understood that.”
I’m glad to see more and more instances of towns and cities recognizing the potential of skateparks to channel kids’ energy. I only wish that sort of mentality had been around when I was younger.