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I’m With Stupid – March 23, 2012

by Todd Hartley

Last week I wrote a column about skiing – specifically my fat rump skiing Corbet’s Couloir at Jackson Hole. It was a little self-serving, admittedly, but it wasn’t originally intended to be that way. In fact, the whole reason I wrote a column about skiing in the first place was to discuss a relatively new trend in the ski world that I find utterly ridiculous. Unfortunately, I got so caught up in praising myself that I totally forgot to talk about what I meant to talk about, so this week, I’m going to talk about it.

If you’ve been skiing this year, you are no doubt aware of the trend in question, which is the proliferation of skiers and snowboarders hitting the slopes with little video cameras mounted on their helmets. On one hand, you have to admire these people and their willingness to look like idiots in order to get some prime point-of-view ski footage. On the other hand, I’d be willing to bet that the millions of hours of video shot by these people has resulted in approximately 18 seconds of action that anyone has any interest in seeing.

Regardless, I think those of us who live in ski towns or who frequent ski areas need to agree on a name for these people, and I have decided (and apparently others have, too) that the name should be Teletubbies. Yes, Teletubbies, those creepy, asexual British TV characters that Jerry Falwell famously accused of being gay.

Mind you, I’m not saying people who ski with video cameras on their helmets are necessarily gay. I mean, some probably are – not that there’s anything wrong with that – but the majority are probably just people who are so awesome at skiing that their every turn needs to be documented.

I think we should start calling these people Teletubbies, however, because the Teletubbies also had odd things projecting from the tops of their heads and also looked like idiots. The only difference is that at least the Teletubbies had an excuse for their idiocy, seeing as how they worshipped a drooling child’s face and couldn’t speak more than a couple of words. (This may also be true of some of the helmet-cam people, and I would like them to know I’m proud of them for managing to put their helmets on correctly.)

In any event, Teletubbies is the new term, so use it every time you encounter someone with a video camera on their head, and let’s see if we can make it the new industry standard.

With that being settled, I still have a couple of questions regarding the use of said video cameras. The first thing I wonder is: once all the Teletubbies get home, download the video of themselves ripping a green run and realize that 99.9 percent of it is boring, pointless crap, will we see more Teletubbies on the slopes next year or fewer? I’d love to predict there will be fewer, but nothing spreads as fast as a stupid idea, so I’m sure there will be millions more next winter.

My next question has to do with what the advent of skiing Teletubbies says about us as a society, because I think this is a symptom of a larger problem: when, exactly, did documenting an event become so much more important than the event itself? Seriously. I mean, I seem to recall when I was a kid, we did things and then actually remembered them later without any help. Sure, it wasn’t particularly high-tech, but a lot of the stuff I did got better with age because there wasn’t any evidence to prove I was lying about it.

Nowadays, even off the slopes, kids can hardly do anything without a parent or friend insisting they wait a few minutes while the cameras come out. It’s ridiculous, and it’s killing the spontaneity that used to make kids do things that would actually be worth filming.

Yes, I know that everyone’s dream is to post some video on YouTube that will go viral and make them instantly famous, but the truth of the matter is that no one outside your immediate circle cares one iota. Just remember that the next time you hold up your child or a friend for 10 minutes in order to get in perfect position to film them dropping that gnarly 3-foot cliff. It might have been moderately cool if they’d done it spontaneously, but it’s going to look lame on the helmet cam.

Todd Hartley is terrified that the real Teletubbies will read this and seek revenge.

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