Slams are hilarious. Slams are cringe-worthy. Slams can often never be un-seen't. Remember that Hubba Hideout leg breaker tossed in at the end of Austin Stephens' original sponsor video? The crunch, followed by screams only a human being in a state of absolute horror could produce. I'm still not over it. Maybe that sharp eye for gore and appreciation of pain is why Ed brought Austin (the original handsome skateboarder) on the team in the first place. At the time companies like Toy Machine and Zero celebrated the Slam, dedicating entire sections in their videos to these unflattering symbols of failure. But why was this trend in skate video post-production so short lived?
The way I see it, a good slam represents all that is pure in skateboarding. A humbling, painful, and raw reminder that no one is perfect. Some slams are harder than others. Sometimes you break a bone and it ruins your sense of confidence for the rest of your life. Sometimes you slam so hard it gives you a weird adrenaline rush that motivates you to try again. Sometimes a slam can be so powerful that it knocks your shoes off your feet.
Whatever the case, a slam is something special, and in a world where nothing is sacred anymore I suppose it makes total sense that this beloved video segment faded into obscurity. They sort of go hand in hand with the concept of full-length skate videos in general, which are also teetering at the brink of obsoletion.
Remember, slam sections are compilations. A bunch of bails from everyone, condensed into one montage, in one place. Seeing something like that as a kid was powerful and left a mark, inspiring considerations such as "Maybe it's socially acceptable to wear a cup while skating a handrail?" or "Is being pro actually worth it?" The answer to either of those questions remains to be seen.
And isn't it an odd coincidence that the presence of bail montages were sort of aligned with the roll-out of hi-jinx videos like Jackass and CKY? In an era where Xtreme sports were experiencing a huge resurgence in popularity, recklessness and debauchery was in. I feel like while there was definitely just a general need to show people that dudes were getting broke the fuck off and working their asses off to put out a video part, it was also a means of keeping up with the times. Basically if your video didn't have a bails section you were blowing it, and none of the Bam-Margera-obsessed youth were ever going to buy your crappy VHS.
These things were everywhere. From some of Toy Machine/Zero's earliest releases, to 411's infamous 411-911, to Tony Hawk's Pro Skater... Yup, THPS. Skate video games were even getting in on that shit. The list goes on. But now what remains? Not to knock on it, but sometimes a Hall of Meat just isn't enough...unless it's Alex's Filho's comprehensive slam-ography. One slam, sandwiched between two 15-second advertisements just doesn't do it for me these days.
Think about it. How rad would some of skateboarding's more recent full-lengths be if they too held onto the bails section? Pretty Sweet, complete with a Super-Slowmo-HD Slam-Tage, edited to any song off of Reflektor? Cold War, resurrecting the group slam highlight reel, edited to literally any punk rock song Jamie Thomas chooses? And lets be honest, nowadays there are a lot of douchebags out there getting paid to ride their skateboards. Wouldn't it be awesome to watch them all eat shit, together in one compilation? Rojo said it best:
"And there's so many kooks in the industry now. I'd much rather watch them get hurt than land tricks straight into mountains of pussy and money."
We deserve better, so this is a call to action: Bring it back. Someone, anyone - I want to see a full bails section, edited to some shitty Dropkick Murphy's song, smack dab in the middle of your next full-length video. You're so capable of it. I'll buy you Shake Shack. Or Bon Chon. Whichever one you're feeling. Options man. Shouldn't that do it for you? If not, watch this and then we'll talk: