Thursday, December 17, 2015

Don't You Influence Me

The Influencer, a relatively recent titular attribution breathing and dying in the social media realm, inhabits a space sandwiched between Brand Ambassador and Wonton Opportunist.

It used to be that brands, the Mad Men, could invent the Respected Voice. Or at least gobble up an emerging character bending their visage to a strategic will, selling back their Frankenstein-With-A-Wink to captive audiences. But in this digital age of a million extruded niche voices splintering into incalculable cliques of untraceable taste, the corporate marketing wonks lost the magic equation with which to deliver the perfect pitch. They lost the golden ticket of authenticity brought to you by Joe Namath. Shit, man, his knees really were that messed up.

Chiseling out a whole new genre of spokesperson from the fickle shale of our attentions, voila the Influencer: a souped up 21st Century sleight of hand co-opting the age old rank of Respected Voice. Preceded by an unfortunate industrial stench of a cynical manipulation of authentic esteem, it has the vibe of backward masking, of subliminal messaging, of hidden agenda-ing. It has the word "sell out" plastered right next to the exotic city stickers on that proverbial leather valise.

There is the well documented knack surfers have in filling necessary gaps keeping themselves happily in the purchase of paddle time. It's the stuff of our sport's myth and legend. The ability to pull the fleece over some carpet bagger's eyes, buying just enough of the day in the water thanks to the gullible slob's forkful of cash has it's own stink of rad punk rockness. I think Dora, of course. And of every one of those Malibu surf scions who rigged the Hollywood stuntman system in their favor. I think of apocryphal tales of Waikiki cunning.

And perhaps this is why it is such an affront. I've certainly not worked out that scheme and I'm always pulling for those clever bastards who have. Is this a lost sensibility in surf culture? Is it all so nauseatingly shallow? So meanderingly main stream? Of course it is.

But the Surfline article beknighting Mikey DeTemple an Influencer is that disappointing.
Because Mikey DeTemple is a good guy making his way in the world while surfing.
And he, or any other working surfer for that matter, doesn't deserve the stab in the back.

Editors Note: Yeah, this is all semantics, and thinly plastered at that. But that's the currency of the realm. And yes, I pay my own bills and satisfy my own creative desires via the advertising industry, often making films about people called "Influencers." There's just something sacrosanct to me about surfing. Or at least there is still some plainly naive part of me that really, really wants "surfing" to still play by its own rules.

Editor's Other Note: And yes, I may have just accepted EBNY's first product placement/review gig. Anything for some free sunglasses. Just don't call me Influencer, apparently.

Editor's Second Other Note: Maybe they'll pull that offer now. Maybe I need to rethink my public opinions. I mean, I really need new sunglasses.


Anonymous said...

Authenticity died a long time ago, my friend.

Wear those sunglasses with pride. If they don't fit a competition for redistribution woudl be welcome hehe

EditorialBoard said...

Authenticity isn't something to hinge on really.
It's more the magic and suspension of disbelief that I think could be held on to.
The idea that despite the heavy weight of evidence, surfing is somehow just slightly other.
And surfers shouldn't be calling other surfers "Influencers."

I know, semantics.

Anyhow, that's a great idea about the comp for the sunglasses.
If the thing happens, I'll do it the moment I've done my "Influencer" part.

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