By Kirk Owers | 25 July 2011
A patchwork of frame grabs from Dane's 'Lost Interest' video blog.
Dane Reynolds is not doing media. The most popular surfer on the planet will not take your call, respond to your email, tweet, poke or courier pigeon. His manager, Blair Marlin, does reply to media questions but he will not respond on Dane’s behalf or speculate about his plans for the year. So where does that leave us, sports fans? Out in the cold, warming ourselves around a fire of idle chatter and loose supposition.
As you know Dane began the year recovering from knee surgery. He withdrew from the opening tour events without much fuss. In May he made his return, contesting the Nike 6.0 event at Trestles. In his first heat he landed a clean inverted slob air 360. Cory Lopez described it as “one of the most difficult airs ever completed in competition”. The judges awarded it an inadequate 7.5. After Dane bombed in his second heat his management explained that he had re-injured the knee and wouldn’t be able to surf at the Rio Pro.
So far straight forward.
But then, after a six week break, we return to the action at Jeffrey’s Bay, the fourth stop of the World Tour, and still no Dane. This time he withdraws without citing a reason. A week before the event he drops a 10 minute mini-movie on his personal website (marinelayerproductions) which demonstrates that he is clearly back and surfing as fabulous as ever. The film’s title Lost Interest seems to answer the question Dane’s been avoiding all year and makes for one hell of a press release.
"The most popular surfer on the planet will not take your call, respond to your email, tweet, poke or courier pigeon.."
So is it now safe to assume that Mr Reynolds has finally made a firm decision? That he has thrown in the competitive towel for the year and perhaps for good? Well no, not really. As of July 20 he hadn’t notified the ASP of any such intentions. They are entitled to fine him $5000 for not making J-Bay and $10,000 for every event he misses for the rest of the season without a valid medical reason.
For many of his admirers this is just another case of Dane being his unusual and beautiful self. Others have read into it a heavy slight against the ASP and a reason to hoist Mr Reynolds even higher on their shoulders as the new anti-corporate, surfer-as-artist, truth-wielding messiah.
Not everyone’s buying it however. On a recent blog The Inertia’s Tetsuhiko Endo rather testily opined: “All he really needs to do is commit one way or another. His ostensible angst about selling out and losing liberties as an artist/performer is undercooked, overhyped, and about ten years too late. Professionals make decisions. Hell, grown-ups make decisions, and only fools and mothers have pity for pampered, whiny white boys.”
Which confirms that I am a fool because I don’t find Dane whiny or all that pampered and don’t believe skin colour is a reason to exclude someone from an emotional response. Nor do I believe questioning surfing’s relationship with commercial enterprise, however under-cooked and over-hyped, has a used by date. In fact I think it’s all the braver for its rarity and timing.
Look, I’ve got no idea what’s going on in Dane’s head but I know for damn sure he’s sick and tired of being probed. He’s been living in the media spotlight since he was a teen and has unintentionally become many things to many people. Everything he does is news. Every time he comes out his bunker there are cameras and questions. Some people may thrive on that level of celebrity but Dane clearly does not. He finds it awkward at best and intrusive and anxiety-inducing at worst.
So yeah, I’d like to hear from Dane. I think a statement regarding his competitive intentions would be appropriate. But I’m not sweating on it. He’s been generous with the media in the past but feels some sections of it have burnt him. Sure it’s his job to be in the public eye but he does that more than adequately via his website. Perhaps all Dane is doing is cashing in on of the biggest payments ever made to an artist/sportsman. Something that only gets handed out to the greats. Something that will only increase the Cult Of Dane. The complete freedom to do whatever the hell you like.
You can check out Lost Interest here: http://www.marinelayerproductions.com/