Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Team Robot: spreading hate

Disclaimer: This post is full of hate, hate, hate. I recognize that Clay Porter brings a lot to the table, and tries to communicate mountain biking to a wider audience. I also recognize that Clay's investment in visual artistry and narrative is appreciated by many people. However, I am not "many people" or "a wider audience." I am a mountain biker, and I watch mountain bike movies so that I can WATCH MOUNTAIN BIKING. I watch race videos so that I can WATCH RACING. IF I WANTED TO LOOK AT CLOUDS GO BY I WOULD WALK OUTSIDE. IF I WANTED TO WATCH BIKES IN SLOW MO I WOULD JUST GO WATCH SPORT RIDERS ON ANY MANDATORY DROP FEATURE ON A RACE COURSE.

I think we all agree by now that that Alex Rankin wins.

Everyone except for frickin Clay Porter. Here's what Clay had to say:

“As far as slow-mo goggle shots and time-lapses go, of course you can expect that kind of stuff. People that say those kind of shots are played or whatever are so fucking stupid. It is because of those kind of narrow-minded people that mountain bike racing isn't bigger right now. People are used to seeing an Alex Rankin style of shooting downhill racing. Don't get me wrong, I love that style and think Alex is an amazing filmmaker with a visual style all his own, but do you think that when Sam Hill is talking about what he was thinking moments before crossing the line at World Champs, a fast pan is the ideal shot choice? Fuck no. A slow-mo shot showing the concentration in his eyes is a much better choice. I shoot a variety of styles of shots as it allows me to tell the story I want to tell. There will be slow-mo goggle shots, fast pans, time-lapses, and everything in between in 3 Minute Gaps.”

When movies are good, the actors don't have to tell you everything they're thinking. You don't see Bobby De Niro saying "I feel worried right now," very often. You follow the story as it moves along because the narrative is non-verbally communicated. Sometimes you don't need to have everything spelled out for you, and hey, sometimes you don't even care about what's being spelled out. Sometimes you just want to see fast pans of MIND FUCKING BLOWING bike riding. Sometimes 15 minutes of slow mo bike riding and 45 minutes of interview is not what I want to see. There was more clearly filmed gnar-shredding in the 2 minute 45 second Rankin clip than there was in all of Tipping Point.

Is there a purpose for Clay Porter movies? Of course. If I want to explain racing to my grandparents, I can think of no better existing method. The only catch is that at some point you have to mention that "oh, by the way, racing is also really fun and I enjoy it. We're not always tense and grimacing and super nerve-racked like the racers in ______ Clay porter movie."

Clay, racing is fun as hell. Why so serious?

And yes, I realize that I'm being an asshole, but in the words of the great Walter Sobchak:

(Editor's note: I'm still gonna watch 3 minute gaps when it comes out)

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