Baby, Take it Off! is Chas Smith’s column. “Surfing is so totally awesome sexy!” says Chas.
I am a champion for the overdog. For the put upon. For the surf company executives and the convertible Saab drivers and the rose drinkers and really for the fabulous. I am a champion. And when Ryan Phillippe is involved with a surf film I want to be a champion for him too. But damn it, I cannot be. Phillippe, famous for marrying Reese Witherspoon and later being divorced from her, is a fine enough actor, with star turns in Cruel Intentions and Flags of our Fathers. He has an appropriate WASPish style, slammin’ six-pack, eyes that girls love, lips that they love more.
But he is no surf film auteur. For he has just produced a surf film called Isolated and I have just watched the trailer. It promises world class surfers going to a forbidden land in search of never-touched waves. Adventure. Danger. Possible cannibalism. Etc. The world-class surfers are Josh Fuller, Travis Potter, Jenny Useldinger, Andrew Mooney and Jimmy Rotherman. Uh oh! And the forbidden land is Papua New Guinea. Oops!
I have never heard of any of the world-class surfers (unless Josh’s real name is Danny) and I lived in Papua New Guinea for some years as a very young man. My father taught high school and I rode around on my bike slanging the pidgin. It smells like burning trash sometimes and certain tribesmen wear bones through their noses. It can be a touch isolated/isolating, but as far as the surf goes, Australians have been doing PNG for years. I did PNG. I shredded Madang on a thick Wave Tools and smiled a Caucasian grin.
Returning to Ryan Phillippe’s work, thus, my main problem is the editorial sell. Superlative description is the parlance of our time and has gone too far. It has become ridiculous. If Isolated were named “A Bit out of the Way” and billed as, “Five bottom-dwelling surfers go to a place that smells like burning trash in search of waves Australians love,” I would stand and applaud. I would champion.
It is always easy to criticize, to sit at home and write nasty words, but I walk the walk. In my own critically and publicly acclaimed film, Who is JOB, I speak only the truth. I say that Jamie is a dick and I say that Jamie surfs Pipe. That truth is taking me to Sundance. I will see Ryan Phillippe. He will envy my Prada penny loafers (with dimes instead of pennies). We will shake hands and he might, in fact, hand me an award. The people approve. They love accurate portrayal. —Chas Smith
I lied! I didn’t portray accurately! Who is JOB is taking me to X-Dance, not Sundance, but both are in Park City and both are on the same dates so basically the same thing!
I lied again! They are so not at all the same thing!
Chas Smith wrote the “This Has Everything to do With Surfing” column in this month’s Europe Issue of SURFING. You can follow him on Twitter @chasdoesntsurf.