Representation Matters: Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 challenges skater cultures problematic past
The much anticipated remaster of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 is on its way and it will not be a simple polish job on the original titles. Some notable, much-needed changes are being made to the game to better represent the shift in culture and skater culture by extension.
Skater culture has always had something of a ‘dude’ problem. A lot of white, straight males participate in the sport and got to dictate the direction of skater culture for a long time. As a result, there are a lot of horrible terms casually slung around because they were coined by people who would never be affected by them.
Last week it was reported that Tony Hawk and Darrick Delao personally pushed to have a popular skate trick, the ‘mute grab’, renamed to properly honour its creator: Chris Weddle.
Hawk revealed in an Instagram post that the move was pioneered by Weddle, a deaf skater, but other skaters wrongfully assumed him to be mute and coined the name ‘mute grab’ on his behalf.
While researching the origins of skateboarding tricks, Hawk got in contact with Weddle and learned that he would have preferred the trick to be called either a ‘deaf grab’ or a ‘Weddle grab’ and so Hawk decided to change the name to ‘Weddle grab’ in the upcoming remaster as his part in changing the culture just a little.
The full post can be read below:
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For nearly 40 years, we’ve shamelessly referred to this trick as the “mute” air/grab. Here is the backstory: around 1981, a deaf skater and Colton skatepark local named Chris Weddle was a prominent amateur on the competition circuit. The “Indy” air had just been created & named so somebody proposed that grabbing with the front hand should be known as the “Tracker” air. Others countered that Chris was the first to do, so it should be named after him. They referred to him as the “quiet, mute guy.” So it became known as the mute air, and we all went along with it in our naive youth. In recent years a few people have reached out to Chris (who still skates) about this trick and the name it was given. He has been very gracious in his response but it is obvious that a different name would have honored his legacy, as he is hearing impaired but not lacking speech. I asked him last year as I was diving into trick origins and he said he would have rather named it the “deaf” or “Weddle” grab if given the choice. His exact quote to me was “I am deaf, not mute.” So as we embark on the upcoming @tonyhawkthegame demo release, some of you might notice a trick name change: The Weddle Grab. It’s going to be challenging to break the habit of saying the old name but I think Chris deserves the recognition. Thanks to @darrick_delao for being a great advocate to the deaf community in action sports, and for being the catalyst in this renaming process. I told Chris tecently and his reply was “I’m so stoked!” And then he shot this photo in celebration yesterday. 📷: @yousta_storytellers_club
Another major, insidious problem area in the skater culture is homophobia. The following section of the article comes with a content warning, there will be some potentially upsetting discussion of homophobia and bigoted slurs. To properly address the cultural problems surrounding this sport, it is important to speak frankly and honestly about it.
Jay Adams, regarded as one of the forefathers of skating, has a disturbing history with homophobia. In 1982, Adams instigated a fight with a homosexual couple and ended up killing one of the men, Dan Bradbury, due to injuries sustained in the fight. Adams only served six months for killing a man. Adams would admit “That’s just how every fuckin’ night was for me back then,” establishing that gay-bashing was a daily ritual for him until he killed someone. Despite this, Adams was entered into the Skateboarding Hall of Fame in 2012.
Forrest Edwards, who took part in in a 2010 video contest called “Slap’s One In A Million,” gained fame and notoriety for his frequent homophobic comments about other contestants. He made a point of saying none of his tricks were gay. Apparently flipping around on a skateboard has sexuality now. That is how deeply rooted in homophobia someone can get when even skateboard tricks can be seen as gay.
No one really cared about his homophobia, scanning a lot of YouTube comments and people largely just say that Forrest is “crazy” rather than going in on his bigotry. The fact is that by was never called out because he is an incredible skater,
Homophobia is so engrained in the culture that throwing around slurs and hateful speech can have next to adverse effects on your career. Being gay, however? That has been a problem in the past. Tim Von Werne, a former pro-skater, lost sponsors and was essentially cut out of the community when he discussed being gay.
Being openly gay was an impediment to your career whereas being openly homophobic was not.
As a final note on skater cultures problem with LGTBQ+ is the term used to describe transition skating. The term “tranny” has been casually used in skater culture with no regard for how it may hurt transgender skaters or skating fans. It is another term that needs to be eradicated from the cultural lexicon along with the mute grab.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 has made a step in the right direction regarding LGBTQ+ representation by including Leo Baker, multiple time medal-winner and champion, making them the first non-binary skater in the series.
The overall roster for Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 is more diverse than previous iterations, which skewed heavily towards white males, and this remaster includes a more diverse array of national and racial backgrounds and identities.
Does this fix everything wrong in skater culture and modern culture as a whole? No. Is it a good step made in good faith by people who want to help shift the culture in the right direction? I believe so.
When decisions like this are made, despite what the habitually aggrieved white cishet males will say, they are not made to meet a quota or to pander to SJWs. When we say “representation matters” it is not about throwing the overlooked some pity attention, representation is literally about representing, and moves like this are about properly representing our culture. The best skaters in the world are simply not white straight dudes, they are the generation raised on games like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. They are diverse people and they deserve to be recognised.