by Corky Carroll
The other day I was on Facebook and some guy had done a post roasting Kelly Slater. At least it looked that way. He said all kinds of slanderous stuff about every aspect of Kelly, personally and as a surfer. It evoked zillions of comments, mostly all defending Kelly, the person that almost everybody in the surfing world considers the greatest ever (GOAT). I have known Kelly and his family since he was about ten years old and have always liked him and respected everything he has done. I think he is a great guy and solid human being. So, I was sifting through some of the comments and somebody pointed out that the post was actually a compliment and everything the guy said was done as sarcasm to point out all of the great stuff that Kelly has done. It was meant as a joke and actually to honor Kelly. On the surface I didn’t see it at first, but then when I read it again I totally got it.
Humor is a funny thing. (wow, that is a cool statement…glad I said it.). It’s an art to pull it off, and if you are on the edge you risk the fact that not everybody might “get it.” I know for a fact from many, ok many many, experiences of my own that sometimes you say something in total jest and there will be some who think you are being serious and ridicule you for it. Especially in print. If you are in person and face to face with people you have the advantage of facial expressions and nuances to give whatever you are saying focus. Like if you are saying, “Joe’s a jerk,” and winking over and over, people will know you are kidding. In print if you say that people will think you actually think Joe is a jerk, and if they don’t agree with you then you are gonna hear about it. Like for instance I can say here that Corky Carroll is the coolest, most handsome, smartest, greatest surfer, studly dude on the planet and beyond. You would think I am an egotistic geek. But if it were in person you could take one look at me and realize that what I said was totally impossible and I had to be joking.
Anyway, the gist of all this is that it got me thinking about how people view people who are in the limelight. It can be surfers, other athletes, celebrities or whatever. Getting good enough at something to be successful is not easy. And to get good enough at it to be famous is ever harder, that’s why there are a lot less famous people than not. But with fame comes the razor sharpe magnifying glass of scrutiny. Not everybody is gonna like ya because you are the best at something, there will always be “haters.” Some are jealous. Envy is a meanie. Some just don’t like the way you look or something you said. (here’s the ya gotta watch what you say thing.). Others have a different “favorite” so they want to tear you down to build up the other one, or maybe the other one is actually themselves. The old tear you down to make me seem cooler thing. Surfing is and always has been teeming with this kind of behavior.
Why don’t people just respect somebody for what they accomplish? Like so and so is an incredible surfer with amazing style, he has won many events and is on the cover of all the surfing mags. Respect. But nooooo. There are those who gotta find something to belittle the accomplishments. “Yeah but the dude is a jerk and takes every wave.” “Yeah but the dude is a jerk who think’s he’s hot.” Geeze, the list of “Yeah but’s go on and on.
I found myself doing the same thing in reverse just yesterday. I am a devout Lakers fan, and sometimes write for one of the Lakers fan pages (Lakeshowlife). I was being critical of recent play of one of their star players and tagged on it, “Yeah but the guy really tries hard and comes to play every night and really wants to win, he’s a good guy.” So there it is, the image of the person vs what they are actually doing. Why does it matter if the greatest surfer, or basketball player, or singer, or whatever hates cats and parks his car on the lawn. Or has a big ego? It takes a lot of ego to get great, who is gonna believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself.
Kelly Slater is the greatest surfer of all time and whether he picks his nose and farts a lot has nothing to do with that. Yeah, but it’s sure fun to gossip about it. True huh.