Hollywood Tries Again

Surf's Up was an indicator of surfing's new position at the frictionless middle of American culture. Characters in the movie are mouthy and a bit scatological, but never subversive or threatening. As presented, surfing is cool. It's also settled, conventional, and family-friendly.

Surfing in pop culture, as depicted in TV shows and movie theaters, expanded and mellowed during the 1990s and 2000s, and the previous era’s over-the-top icons—stoner Jeff Spicoli and madman Colonel Kilgore—began to morph into surprisingly real people. This was literally true for a string of top-notch surfing documentaries. Apparently, just about any topic imaginable can be filtered effectively th...

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