Paradise: Still Waiting

Friday night was the World Premiere of Teton Gravity Research’s new ski film Paradise Waits.  Fall is here and I am starting to get the itch to get back on my skis, so a little ski porn action to get me in the mood sounded like a pretty damn good idea, plus! Angel Collinson, one of the most BOSS individuals in skiing, is featured doing what she does, which if you haven’t a clue, is ski really fucking rad.  I bought tickets, put on some leather boots and a cool ass poncho, and headed to the village at JHMR for the outdoor screening.

Originally I wrote a whole (highly critical) review of the movie…but I decided to abandon my critique of their arbitrary movie title Paradise Waits, the absolute lack of any story line, and the use of a power point style time-line to progress the film to focus on the thing that bothered me most about the movie, the moment- the segment, that TGR lost me, a lady skier.

Here’s how it went: I’m watching the movie, and I’m enjoying it.  There is a segment of Angel and her brother Johnny in Kosovo that was pretty cool, and although her skiing time was short during the segment, it was a sick line.  I wanted more, and I was hoping for more.  The time-line continued, and about an hour in to the movie without any more of Angel skiing, the film moved on to a segment of Tim Durtschi skiing a tram lap at Jackson Hole.

The segment started with the very iconic synth sounds of Cyndi Lauper’s 1983 hit “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.”  

I was absolutely bewildered.  Stupefied.  I looked around, my jaw dropping, at the crowd that was full of women and girls, and thought to myself is this a fucking joke?

Because that is what TGR did in that scene.  They made a mockery of women’s skiing by playing a feminist anthem about female camaraderie and empowerment and pairing it with a man jibbing a line at JHMR, that I know plenty of women ski, with this sort of goofy, comedic vibe to it.  At that point in the movie, a song about girls having fun was featured longer than any girls actually having fun were featured.  And to be more critical, the film didn’t even feature girls having fun.  It featured a single girl, one woman.  Girls were not having fun in this movie, and to be honest at that point, I stopped having fun watching the movie.

Why would TGR choose that song to accompany that segment?  What was the point?  What was the goal?  Was it to make it seem funny or to make the segment feel lighter, goofy, or comical?  And if the answer to the latter is yes, which I have no doubt it is, then the next question to ask is what is so funny about girls having fun and skiing?

This is not the bullshit that women’s skiing needs.

I want to take a second to acknowledge Angel Collinson for the absolute badass that she is.  Now, I didn’t know it at the time, but Angel would go on to close the film with an incredible segment of her slaying high-speed runs with huge airs, techy turns, and big spines.  And you know what?  Her segment got the biggest cheers from the audience.  It was slightly redeeming, and my stoke levels were rising again.  The credits rolled, and as the names of the athletes appeared on screen, I was again reminded where women’s skiing is at as far as media representation.

Of the twenty skiers featured in the film, Angel is the only female. That is 95% male, and just 5% female.  That is a staggering percentage.  Maybe that’s why TGR titled the film Paradise Waits, because it isn’t going to be paradise with just one babe and whole bunch of sausages. That’s a lot of waiting.

Paradise Waits disappointed me.  Last season was the Year of the Lady Skier and it was exciting to see so many projects featuring women. The epicenter of Pretty Faces was in TGR’s very own backyard for crying out loud, and this is the best that they do?

Lady skiers, be critical of the ski industry and call bullshit…and that goes for our male counterparts too, be supportive allies. I think Jon Stewart said it best with his departing words on The Daily Show, “If you smell something, say something.”

Well, TGR, you stink.

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