A Surfer’s Hidden Transcript – Hawaiian Surf Culture, Localism, and Representation

James C. Scott’s formulation, from his ebook Domination and the Arts of Resistance, of the “infrapolitics of subordinate teams,” is particularly fascinating in excited about certainly one of Hawaii’s biggest cultural and social exports, the artwork of browsing. Should you surf, you’re undoubtedly conscious of the varied unstated codes and guidelines that govern the tribe. These codes and guidelines exist, partially, as each a form of self-policing within the lineups in addition to warning to outsiders, or “non-locals.” (“Native,” particularly in Hawaii, is sort of a loaded time period, nevertheless we are able to restrict it in our dialogue to face in for surfers who aren’t from the realm/surf spot.) Should you do not surf, then what you assume you realize about these codes or guidelines is drastically filtered by way of the general public transcript. Nevertheless, the truth that there are, to various levels, totally different representations of the “surfer’s code” in each the general public and hidden transcript, gives us an fascinating window into how the hidden and the general public collide.

As Scott explains, infrapolitics “is a politics of disguise and anonymity that takes place in public view however is designed to have a double which means or to protect the id of the actors.” Surfers are infamous for rubbing wax on windshields, slashing tires, eradicating distributor caps and spark plug traces, siphoning gasoline, and numerous others acts surf terrorism to automobiles that they do not acknowledge as “from” the place they surf all the time. For example a pal and I received out of the water at Lahilahi, a sharky, deep water break simply down the street from Makaha one afternoon and located that all the automobiles parked alongside the aspect of the street (besides ours) had “haole go house” written on them. My buddy grew up on the Westside of Oahu so we had been spared attempting to scrub off everlasting marker (or no matter it was). Likewise, “warning” indicators abound on the best way to some surf breaks. Crudely spray-painted or drawn on partitions, indicators, sidewalks, or garbage cans, markers signify who’s allowed to surf, and who will not be. Once more, should you ever occur to surf China Partitions, a surf break off of Portlock on the East aspect of Oahu, hop the fence (which was put there for public security, thanks Linda Lingle) and make your means down the trail to the steps that lead right down to the “Finger” (a selected part of the wave at China’s) and you may see warnings reminiscent of “should you do not dwell right here, do not surf right here,” (which is ironic as a result of who can afford to dwell in Portlock?) “go house,” and “beat it haole.”

Earlier than the mainstream appropriated and disseminated it to the plenty, surfer discourse can be a great instance of the hidden transcript. Phrases reminiscent of “rad,” tubular,” “gnarly,” and “bitchin” had been used inside the general public transcript to each mark the id of the subordinate group (should you knew how and why these phrases had been used you had been aware about the membership), and alienate the elite (I am pondering right here of Sean Penn’s character “Jeff Spicoli” matching wits with “Mr. Hand” in Quick Instances at Ridgemont Excessive.) Today, what is not stated appears to hold extra weight. For example, all surfers know that if the waves are nice at your native seashore, you do not inform anybody about it. There’s nothing worse than a carload of surfers piling out into the lineup as a result of one of many “bro’s” spilled the beans a few new swell. The “secret spot” is one other wonderful instance of this discourse of silence, as surfers go to nice lengths to make sure that hidden spots stay hidden. For instance, I hitched a experience on a pal’s boat throughout the channel to Molokai to surf a “secret spot,” solely to discover a half a dozen different boats there as we arrived. My pal was visibly irritated. He acknowledged a few associates in a few of the different boats and proceeded to curse at them for bringing individuals to the break (when he was responsible of the identical crime).

Inevitably, these codes and guidelines result in confrontations with the general public transcript. Nevertheless, these incarnations of the hidden transcript inside the general public sphere are, as Scott posits, now not meant to “protect the id of the actors,” as an alternative, the actors are very a lot within the public eye. So whereas the occasions that led as much as the formation of surfer teams like The Hui, Wolfpack, and the Bra Boys discover their origins within the hidden transcript, their institution, and ensuing reign, are very a lot part of the general public transcript (as evident in movies like North Shore, Blue Crush, Bra Boys, tv reveals like The 808, and all the Da Hui and Wolfpack merchandise out there at your native Costco.) I discover it ironic that these teams complain about how they’re perceived in public given their pre-revolutionary tough and tumble antics. Watch any of the aforementioned reveals or movies and these teams (actually, the fellows, Kala Alexander, Quick Eddie, Makuakai Rothman, and many others) act in the identical stereotypical “gangster” style. Positive, these are in style representations, mediated by company {dollars} and gross sales predictions, however attempt to catch a wave anyplace between Off the Wall and Ehukai anytime between November and February and you will get the identical angle from these sorts of jokers, no matter how nicely versed you’re within the hidden transcript. It makes me marvel if, on the very second of its introduction to the general public narrative, the hidden transcript can’t assist however be subverted ultimately. At what level does the hidden transcript turn out to be “the self-portrait of dominant elites as they’d have themselves seen?” It seems as if these inherent codes and guidelines, as soon as codified right into a consultant id, learn very very similar to the narrative of the elite. It’s, in some ways, “designed to be spectacular, to affirm and naturalize the facility of dominant elites, and to hide or euphemize the soiled linen of their rule.” What then will we make of Scott’s formulation? Is his object of research liberating, or is it akin to Althusser’s “metal entice,” during which we simply merely commerce grasp ideologies for different grasp ideologies?

Works Cited:

Scott, James C. Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts. Yale Univ. Press, 1990. Print.

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