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    Surf Rhetoric in American and British Surfing Magazines Between 1965 and 1976

    Ormrod, J (2007) Surf Rhetoric in American and British Surfing Magazines Between 1965 and 1976. Sport in History, 27 (1). pp. 88-109. ISSN 1746-0263


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    This article examines how subcultural values are influenced by place and environment within a specific time period between the mid 1960s to the mid 1970s. At this time America was one of the major surfing nations in the world and American surfing culture was the most easily accessible to British surfers. Conversely British surfing was at an early stage of development and the article compares the rhetoric of American surfing with British surfing subcultures to determine the extent to which the fantasy lifestyle of searching for the perfect wave expressed in American surfing magazines and films was accepted by British surfers. The spread of surfing has been linked with the ways nations from around the globe have been influenced by ‘Americanization’; the influence of American culture as the prevailing global culture on the local culture. 11. Nick Ford and David Brown, Surfing and social theory: Experience, embodiment and narrative of the dream glide (London and New York, 2006), p. 48. View all notes Appadurai's work on the different ways that globalization is disseminated has formed a significant model for the debate about the dissemination of sport. 22. James Maguire, Global sport: Identities, societies, civilizations (Cambridge, Oxford and Malden, MA, 1999). View all notes Appadurai suggests several ways that global culture is disseminated including mediascapes in which mass media spread global texts. 33. Arjun Appadurai, ‘Disjuncture and difference in the global cultural economy’, Public Culture, 2 (2) (1990), pp. 1–24. View all notes Often these global texts are regarded as expressions of wish-fulfilment by appealing to audiences’ dreams: ‘More people in more parts of the world dream of and consider a greater range of possible lives than they have ever done before. … Increasing numbers of people world-wide are bombarded by global imagination industries ‘version of glittering, enticing commodity forms of possible lives.’ 44. Ulrich Beck, What is Globalization? (Cambridge, 2000), p. 54. View all notes American surfing narratives represented in surfing magazines and ‘pure’ surf films are examples of this notion of the ‘dream’ scenario. The surfers in these texts venture forth into unknown territories, experience the unspoiled beauty of exotic locations and surf in perfect waves and warm waters. However, how are these dream scenarios received in surfing nations that differ from American culture? Booth's work on Australian surfing suggests the surfing subcultures adapt their values dependent upon national agendas. This research, part of a wider study, 55. Joan Ormrod, ‘Expressions of nation and place in British surfing identities’ (PhD. thesis, Manchester Metropolitan University, 2006). View all notes examines how American surfing rhetoric was received by British surfers between 1965 and 1976. Unlike American surfers, who romanticized the wave as an act that reflected the conquering of new territories, British surfers articulated quite a different set of values – dreams evoked by mass media and subcultural representations that proposed that ‘The individual is both actor and audience in his own drama … he constructed it, stars in it, and constitutes the sum total of the audience.’ 66. Colin Campbell, The Romantic ethic and the spirit of modern consumerism (Oxford, 1987), p. 78. View all notes British surfers of the early 1970s enacted a fantasy involving adventure. What is significantly different about British surf rhetoric is that surfers attempt to inform about the hardships as well as the pleasures; one experiences the hardship to increase the pleasure. This notion of the hero enduring hardships on an adventure to conquer overwhelming odds could be regarded as ‘typically’ British.

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