On this week’s Full Frame, we examine two aspects of modern youth subculture. First, we meet Tony Hawk — the skateboarding pioneer who has helped shape a defining element of today’s youth subculture.
Skateboarding began here in the United States in the early 1950s and has since found a global following. Filmmaker, Patrik Wallner, and professional skateboarder, Walker Ryan, will tell us how VisualTraveling films is making cross-cultural connections with skateboarding as a universal language. We will then meet Lee Hirsch, a documentary filmmaker turned social activist, who has spotlighted a harsh reality for today’s youth: bullying.
Market research and consumer insight studies have long tried to understand and, hence, define each generation. The millennials, those born between 1980 and 1994, are often portrayed as apathetic, disinterested, tuned-out and selfish. An article in The Economist went as far as to say “Gen Y are spoiled, narcissistic layabouts that can’t spell and waste too much time on instant messaging and Facebook.” These assessments are upheld by stereotypes and media portrayal, but today’s youth are far more complex than a simple buzz line. Today’s youth culture is made up of a myriad of subcultures, trends and social media phenomena that their parents’ generation has yet to discover.
Newsmaker: Tony Hawk is creating safe spaces out of skate parks for at-risk teenagers
Skateboarding was likely born in the 1950’s when surfers in California needed an alternative to surfing when the waves were flat, and decided to “surf concrete.” By the 1990’s skateboarding had evolved into an anti-establishment youth subculture, defined by its fashion and lingo. Skateboarding didn’t have a favorable reputation and was associated with “troublemakers” and “miscreants.”
Today, with the increased popularity of skateboarding competitions (such as the X-Games), video games (check out Skate), and the emergence of skate parks, skateboarding is a mainstream sport. Retail companies like Hurley, Vans, and RVCA are making millions of dollars by marketing the skateboarding lifestyle. But, for the last 30 years, one name has defined all things skateboarding: Tony Hawk.
The youngest of four kids, Hawk was given quite a bit of latitude by his parents to roam free, so at age 10, he boarded his first skateboard. Four years later, he turned “pro” and was consistently taking home the $150 first place prize. Before long, Hawk was earning six figures and purchased his first home while still in high school. Hawk was on his way to altering the notion that skateboarding was just about funky hairstyles and edgy graphics. It was a lifestyle.
Hawk wears many hats today. According to his Twitter page, he is a “professional skateboarder, dad, video game character, CEO, kid chauffeur, global hopscotcher, food glutton and public skate park defender.” Hawk has dominated the action sports scene with his fearlessness.
At the 1999 X-Games, Hawk made history by becoming the first skater to land a “900”, a skateboard trick of two-and-a-half mid-air revolutions.
Wearing his public-skate-park-defender hat in 2002, Hawk established The Tony Hawk Foundation. Devoted to creating safe, legal places for kids to skate, Hawk’s foundation has donated more than $5 million to nearly 500 skate park projects throughout the United States, especially in low-income gang-ridden neighborhoods.
Tony Hawk joins Full Frame’s Mike Walter to take us on his journey to stardom and activism.
Also on this week’s episode, Full Frame contributor, Sandra Hughes, visits the Tony Hawk Foundation-supported Long Beach McBride Skate Plaza, where she meets Alberth Mimila, the beneficiary of a life-changing passion for skateboarding. Sandra discovers the power of a skate park in providing kids with a safe place to hone their skills, but also the ability of a skate park to transform an entire community for the better.
In Depth: VisualTraveling takes skateboarding to roads less traveled
Skateboarding may have originated in California over 50 years ago, but today, the sport has gained a strong global following. Members of The VisualTraveling project can be credited with bringing skateboarding to places previously devoid of the sport. Believe it or not, skateboarding is bringing together people who would otherwise never meet while simultaneously breaking cultural barriers.
Patrik Wallner, a Hungarian adventure travel filmmaker, joins Full Frame from Budapest to share his mission to take expert skateboarders from all over the world to countries that are not easily accessible to most travelers. He has documented the VisualTraveling team skateboarding in Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Kazakhstan – among many other remote and exotic locales.
Walker Ryan, who has been on the professional skateboarding scene since 2011, joins Mike Walter in the studio to discuss his experience as one of the stars of the VisualTraveling films. He sheds light on the power that skateboarding has had in empowering young girls in Afghanistan through Skateistan.
Newsmaker: Lee Hirsch is spreading the word that the way to get ahead is not by bullying
Nearly 1 in 3 of all students in the United States report being bullied during the 2013 school year. Perhaps most alarming, 64% of children who were bullied did not report it. The victims of bullying often remain silent as the epidemic continues to pervade school hallways worldwide. Filmmaker and social activist, Lee Hirsch, is giving voices to the victims who bear the brunt of an epidemic that has long “lived in hushed tones.” Full Frame’s Mike Walter sat down with Hirsch, who directed BULLY, an award-winning documentary that exposes the harsh reality that some kids face every day.
Hirsch’s film sparked The Bully Project, a global social action campaign that has already provided at least 3.4 million educators, parents, and students with the resources to bring an end to bullying and cyber-bullying once and for all. Hirsch shares his insight on what the bully culture has become and how it can come to an end.
Tune into Full Frame on CCTV America at 7:00 pm EDT on October 25, 2014. Or watch the live stream of the program here.