My Mountain: Film Me or Go Home

“Local is just another word for someone who can’t get his shit together and travel.”- Owl Chapman, surf legend

It never fails. The media shows up with film crew, riders, photographer, and pricey rental van. Locals converge with the intent of infiltrating and participating in the stunt proceedings. After cameramen attempt tactful disinterest, and the locals are finally (and painfully) made aware of this disinterest, bitterness sets in. Soon, the crew goes from traveling inspirationalists to culture-raping exploiters. The locals go from cool to kook within a day.

Considering that truly great riders are sought out by film makers for their value (how many resumes has Ranquet ever sent out?), the process is actually fairly democratic. While those who show up on location with their collective hands out and chips sagging their shoulders past their chain wallets, are always suspect. And for good reason.

This past season, a few pro-riders who chose Jackson Hole as their part-time residence were faced with just such a situation. The “true” locals (if such a person exists in a tourist-based ski town) were bummed that the part-timers were importing pros to film on “their” mountain. And worse yet, they were not getting in on the exploiting.

This is fucked up. The fact that Terje, Johann, and others were able to come in and do things the “locals” couldn’t, only fueled the fire.But certainly Jackson’s not any diferent than everywhere else. The fact is, it just happened to be the focal point this past season; all ski resort locals face this situation every winter.

The humorist P.J. O’Rourke has made the case that fame is society’s modern currency, and those denied their fifteen minutes fall below the poverty line. I suspect this gimmee mine/leave-me-alone dichotomy comes from insecure egos and a lack of place. How many twenty-year ski patrol veterans try to snivel their ways into Warren Miller productions? Doesn’t happen because they don’t care. Nor do they burn with envy over those who do attain celluloid success.

This stands in stark contrast with the hoards of snowboarders moving from cities to ski towns and claiming citizenship.

Moving to the mountains should be reward enough. In fact, I think local status is achieved inversely proportional to the amount one cares about such things. Is it about attaining a better lifestyle, or bitching about the fact that nobody films you, and talking shit about your buddy who’s lived there six months less than you?

In Jackson’s case, like all the other ski-resort towns, perhaps the Utes and Shoshones can make a case for localism. But everyone else falls a little short.