Not So Stoked

posted by / News / July 17, 2009

NOT STOKED: Cartoon Network kills surfing– those bastards!

By Matt Walker

My dad never let me watch Laverne & Shirley. Not once. Wonder Woman? Of course. But strictly for educational purposes. (So star-spangled, so fully figured —she was like Sex-Ed meets Civics class.)

Davey & Goliath? Sure. What harm could come from spending each Sunday with a talking dog and a sexually repressed religious fanatic? (To his credit, it had been at least two years since former cult member David Berkowitz — aka Son of Sam — killed six New Yorkers because his neighbor’s Labrador retriever, Harvey, told him to.)

But for some reason the prospect that his seven-year-old son might grow-up to imitate two bumbling beer factory workers, or their partially retarded neighbors, was too risky. And though it worked — sort of, I still pledged a fraternity — I’ve never recovered. And I’ve avoided that same impulse to kill my first-grader’s television over something like hardcore silliness.

‘Til now.

Enter Stoked. The Cartoon Network’s new series (airing Thursday night), which follows six wacky ‘groms’ — their emphasis, not mine, and boy do they emphasize — with summer jobs at an idyllic, surfing paradise called — wait for it —Surfer’s Paradise.

It don’t take Nostradamus to forecast this one, but think North Shore meets Scooby Doo. Except the mystery is how to surf all summer long. And the forces of evil ain’t a mask-wearing amusement park operator, Lance Burkhardt or Vince from Da Hui — it’s the writers and producers. Not only do these thugs pound the sport of kings, they riddle it with bulletholes, making swiss cheese of our sub-culture in mere seconds with a staccato assault of stolen lingo, cliche dialogue and, of course, heaps of bad stereotypes.

There’s a black guy called Johnny who not only can’t surf, he doesn’t even get a cool name. (Sorry, Buttons). A mix of Machado and Spicoli named ‘’Broseph.’ (Et tu, Transworld?) And of course, the mandatory soulful, goateed old dude who claims “I’m the Kahuna.” No, you’re the douchebag. (Or at best, a kook)

And let’s not forget the pair of matching his-and-her shredders named ‘Reef’ and ‘Rip” ala Kelly and Lisa — except they say the girl might surf better. (A thought guaranteed to keep both genders giggling — but for different reasons.) One Keala-be. One baby Rell. Plus a 16-year-old, pro-ho-in-making, Emma, who, according to her bio: “totally loses it around guys she crushes on” and “can’t surf, but is determined to rip [her clothes off, maybe?] by the end of summer.”

And, as if TV ain’t brain-melting enough, they also manage to undo a whole year’s worth of schoolwork, from math — “Gromfest starts in 12 weeks and three days!” Don’t you mean 3.1 months? Reduce, dammit! — to my personal pet peeve: pronunciation.

For the record — in case some Malibu SUPper’s butchering a script as we speak — the emphasis in ‘double overhead” is on HEAD – not ‘over.’ (Blue Crush made the same offense repeatedly.) Seems trite, but it‘s annoying — and telling. Like hearing some Ivy Leaguer say “TEE-vee” instead of “tee-VEE” — your degree may boast “Brown” but your diction screams “Rube.”

Even geography and physics take a hit, as Surfer’s Paradise promises “dozens of point breaks.” That’s right: DOZENS. As in at least 24. All in a single resort. (Take that, Typhoon Lagoon.)

Actually, it’s too bad Disney wasn’t involved — as in Walt Disney. Back before they froze the animation genius somewhere inside Mickey Mouse’s colon, it took three years to finish a cartoon. At that rate, we’d only have to suffer through these shenanigans a couple times each decade. (The modern difference between most mainstream two-dimensional surf tales – say Blue Juice and In Gods Hands. ) Unfortunately, these days, a factory full of ink-pen wielding South Koreans can unleash Point Break-like damage every single week. All summer long.

Think of the kids! Now, scores of teens, tweens and ne’er-beens — I can already see pregnant Roxy chicks pressing their wombs to the screen in 30 minute increments — are gonna come away with an unattainable image of surfing. Dreaming of impossible moves like “Air 3600s” and one-armed hand stands. Of double-over-HEAD waves “almost every day.” Not to mention “miles and miles of uncrowded beaches.” (Not if this show takes off.)

And perhaps that’s the real root of my disdain — not fear for our children but hatred of them. The same anti-outsider, anti-crowd, localist mentality that penetrated my psyche milliseconds after I first stood up. At an age not too far after dad dictated my viewing habits. An age, not too far from where my son is now.

Or maybe, I worry — again, selfishly — that his impressionable young brain will process this tripe and stick to his boogie board. Or worse, he’ll get turned off riding waves completely and continue on his current path of Star Wars, Bakugan and Ben 10, a slippery path that’ll have him rolling 20-sided dice and hoarding hit points into his thirties.

More likely the problem is even more narcissistic. That surfing might not just change in theory and image, but in reality. My reality. A phobia that only gets worse with each year, as fresh new blood enters the water, while I get grayer, slower, balder and hairier.

Truth is, if the cast of Stoked is steering ‘The Mystery Machine’, I’m Old Man Mr. Withers getting left in the dust. They’re the fun-loving bunch racing off in the future; I’m the cranky bastard shaking my fist, and screaming ”meddling kids!” — while secretly hoping they drive off a cliff. Except maybe one.

On that note, I better run: it’s time for the boy’s mandatory double-feature of Surf’s Up — and Fast Times.

Wanna keep surfing real? Fill out the survey to help us dispel stereotypes and – most importantly – protect US surf spots for years to come.

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  • Rob


    I guess you must really love your surfing.

    All I have to say to you my friend is that Stoked is A CARTOON!!!!!! It has no bearing on the reality of surfing, or surf culture. ALOT of things are exaggerated, which is the point of a cartoon. I can’t believe you would think that a cartoon could possibly have any influence over anyone’s opinion or view of surfing. I can see it now ‘Hey mom I’m going to go down to the beach and try an Air 3600! heck, if the little drawing on TV can do it then I can do it too!’ People just aren’t that stupid. It’s entertainment. Pure and simple. And yes, that beach may have 24 point breaks, because it’s MAKE BELIEVE!

    And by the way, yes I do work on the show myself, and the production is not done by ‘ a factory full of ink-pen wielding south koreans’, every bit of the production is done right here in Canada, by some of the most talented artists in the industry. So do your research before you insult us. No go get over yourself

  • Cameron

    What is your problem? I am not on the production crew. I am a Dad, that is forced to watch cartoons with my four year old triplets all the time. Stoked is an awesome CARTOON!!!!!!!! Every cartoon is exaggerated and stereotypical. Don’t be such a douche!!! It is actually an introduction to surfing for little kids that aren’t fortunate enough to grow up near a surfable beach. You want to see a crappy cartoon, watch the Misadventures of Flapjack or Chowder.

  • Geoff

    Unattainable images? Are you worried that kids who watch Transformers go out into the world thinking that there are giant alien robots disguised as cars and airplanes? This is a CARTOON pal, and we’re lucky if our kids are watching something that is both entertaining and that encourages them to be social and active. Or would you rather them play a few more rounds of ‘Art of War 9′ on the PlayStaion3 or go out and buy the newest Optimus Prime Action Figure to complement their lunch box and drive more money into Mattel’s pocket? You should probably relax a bit and put things in perspective, broseph. 😛

  • ReeFin

    I really don’t see how Stoked has any relations to Scooby Doo but okay….Anyway last I remembered Stoked was made by canadians and not koreans if you have researched this whole show is 100% Canadian from how it was made down to the Canadians that voice act it.
    What’s weird is that you are comparing real life to a cartoon (it’s almost like rating a little kiddy baseball game to professional baseball) that’s why it’s on cartoonnetwork (underline cartoon) and teletoon (underline toon)….because its a cartoon…simple as that. Cartoons are suppose to be like this to keep the children interested, basicly exaggerated cartoons are what stays on tv and keeps buisness running like it should.
    To tell you the truth Stoked, 6teen, and Total Drama Island/Action (all made by the same company) are the most mature/ close-to-real-life cartoons I’ve seen on cartoonnetwork and I enjoy watching it.
    So maybe if you take cartoons this seriously to write a whole incorrect article on it, you should stop watching them. Simple as that.