Inside Steve Berra’s World | “I don’t get any special privilege in life from being a Scientologist, in fact, I get a lot of shit for it.”
Wow. Been waiting for this one for what, like a decade? Steve Berra is the skateboarder that skateboarders love to poke to see what kind of reaction they’ll get. He even directed a Hollywood blockbuster at one point in another life. Though one of the most intelligent people in skateboarding and certainly has done more for it than most others, still Steve doesn’t get the respect he deserves and thinks he deserves. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why. Steve has his outlooks on life and skateboarding and in a culture that doesn’t look fondly on someone having a different view, he remains hard-nosed on them. Kudos to that, even if we don’t align with all of them.
Only a month or two ago we put up an “article” on Steve Berra and his reasons for the spot building controversy in the DVS video that also went a little into his Scientology beliefs. As he does, Steve lit up our Instagram and we had some good natured back-and-forth. Then we spent the next day with some lengthy more in-depth emails that went deeper into skateboarding media, Steve’s beliefs, philosophy, etc. One thing that we were left with is that Steve really cares about skateboarding. Still. Which is really damn cool whether you like his views or not.
Anywayyyyy, Jenkem just did a really strong interview with Steve that touches on most of his “controversies”, but our favorite part is his industry talk. He’s seen and done and knows a lot about it. His thoughts on print and industry support and Instagram and all that is very important information. Skateboarding is in a weird place right now with all this social media that is taking control from real skateboarding outlets.
Here are a few choice cuts:
“Neither of us have personally made a dollar from the Berrics in ten years. Not a dollar. We put everything back into making it the best it can be. I don’t think anyone anywhere else at any company in skateboarding can say that and if they can, my hat is off to them.”
“Followers on an account you don’t know is going to be there forever—an account that is owned by Google or Facebook, who control how many people you can reach with that account—may not mean anything in the future. Remember, at one point in time Tila Tequila was the most followed person on social media. Where did that get her? Where is she now? My point is, end of the day unless it was an absolute necessity, we would not step out of print.”
“I don’t think “everyone” is putting their marketing dollars into those platforms. Some people are putting some dollars into it. And I wouldn’t say that Instagram and Facebook are “ruining” skating, but on the off chance that I did say that, I apologize. It’s not what I totally meant on either of those subjects. Let me also say that I don’t think anything can “ruin” skateboarding because it’s an ever-changing thing.”
“I see people on their phones everywhere and all they’re doing is sliding their thumb up their screen as fast as they can while the pictures on instagram fly by them. I don’t even know how they’re aborbing anything or if they’re effected by anything they see besides a viral clip. It’s just too much and they follow too many people. The skate industry cannot just be instagram viral clip posts and instagram advertising. It can be part of it, but there is certainly more to skateboarding than just that.”
“I think it’s the mark of a pretty unintelligent person when I hear people say, “Fuck Nike, or Adidas or Converse etc…” At least those brands are doing something for and with the industry. And they’re doing a lot of somethings. More than someone like Stance is. I don’t dislike Stance or even mean to pick on Stance, but let’s take them as an example:
I see Stance socks advertisements on Google Adsense for movie websites or political websites I go on. They’re okay with targeting skate consumers through Google, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, but not through the media sites that actually helped put them and the skaters they enlist to build their brand there in the first place? It’s disappointing, particularly because when they first started we did a beautiful 3-part “Trajectory” on their company for nothing, just because we wanted to see them succeed. Then, now that they did succeed, closing last year at $180 million in sales, they do very little for the culture, yet you have small board brands who are killing themselves and making a fraction of a percent of what Stance does all to make sure the culture continues. It’s odd why Stance and some more companies like them don’t do more, yet want that halo effect of skate culture.”