The UK has spoken through action rather than words, and for once a facebook group managed to achieve its aim, of knocking Simon Cowell’s ‘music factory’ off the Christmas number 1 slot. It had become rather predictable, as since 2004 some for of Cowell/X Factor homogonised pop has ruled the waves at christmas.
Now we have Rage Against the Machine’s, Killing in the Name of, a track originally released in 1992, a year that saw me visiting The Steam House in Southbourne, a indy rock pub with attitude. Every Sunday a similar set of loud rock would eminate from the over crowded bar, and the crowd would scream along with such great hits.
The Rage track is a very antiestablishment track, that whilst not the best song ever made certainly sends the sentiments to a generation that are sick of X-Factor format fame and music. Given arguments that society reflects live and live society. I see this as a metaphor for climbing and the media at the moment.
If you haven’t read Stevie Haston’s blog then I suggest you do, as he suggest that real talent in climbing (like himself) struggle to make a living because lesser climbers are taking all the limelight and the limited cash that goes with it. I can’t say I entirely agree with Stevie, but he certainly has a point, in that on paper, he is arguably a legendary rock star.
Unfortunately for Stevie sponsors don’t want legends they want people willing to sell out to help promote their products. Climbers who will climb the hardest and most dangerous routes for free, and be filmed whilst doing it. Stevie’s argument that the film-maker or photographers are making more money from the sport than the performers is well founded. Just look at Adam Long’s article on the Grand Capucin where Jame McHaffie and Ben Bransby climbed the route, and Adam documented and sold the ascent in both words and images, and what is wrong with that? Its not just Adam many photographers and film makers myself included have arguably exploited climbers.
Unfortunately there seems to be little that can be done, as manufacturers have a limited marketing budgets, and often turn to those with a ‘relationship’ with photographer and film-makers in order to get the most media coverage in return for there investment. As a photographer and ex-film-maker there seems little that we can do as we are really only capturing routes that the climbers would probably climb anyway, and the money isn’t that great compared to other media outlets. For instance I made more money selling an image to two national newspapers than I got for an entire article in a national climbing magazine.
So maybe Stevie’s excellent rants are simply an extension of the push to get rid of homogonised media in climbing, as photographers and film-makers make a killing in the name of.
Postscript – The example i cited of Adam was incorrect, Ben made more than Adam, and whilst Adam is unsure about how much Caff made, the fact he got the cover shot, probably means he got a reasonable amount from photo incentive deals. So perhaps change “well founded’, to “assumed by the author”. I stand corrected by Adam, and this probably gives more food for the argument that climbers need photographers and writers to get them into the climbing press. Thanks to Adam for putting me right, I’d also like to point out that I only choose the example because i liked the images and the story, and as such it popped straight into my head when trying to find an example. I could have used any major or minor photographer/writer and any number of climbers as an example.