Saturday, November 14, 2009

Dear Deadpoint Magazine

Dear Deadpoint Magazine,
This is to say I am not so upset you defriended me on Facebook the other night. Apparently my response to the “Suburban Wankster”, a new entry in the admittedly difficult-to-appraise genre of climbing parody, offended some member of your thin-skinned editorial staff. I received a note via Facebook to this effect:

“Peter, I don't watch Fox news or Dancing with the Stars. It isn't my style. I would go crazy hating on both shows if I subjected myself to them. If DPM is so deplorable to you, don't visit our site or pick up the publication. You will be a happier man. It isn't geared towards your demographic anyway."

Well, here is the deal DPM. My demographic is that of a climber who thinks that sexism, sensationalism, homophobia and malicious insults are not only bad form but injurious to the sport. My role as I see it is occasionally to point out when the climbing media appear to foster values that degrade climbing and the unique species of humans that pursue it. This isn’t just about style; it’s about what you stand for.

What I have heard from you so far and what I have seen in a number of examples is a “do whatever it takes” approach to get attention. In climbing, this is called cheating and it doesn’t matter if it’s the latest boulder problem at Hueco or a free ascent of El Cap. Cheaters get a bad reputation and they get called on it.

The shame of it is that when you were called on it, you apparently didn’t feel comfortable about it, like someone adding bolts to a route or chipping a hold. You got whiny and called me a “hater.” But it isn’t you I hate, DPM. It’s seeing my friends insulted, it’s seeing videos of people getting hurt being posted on your site for profit, it’s hearing me dismissed (because of age,as far as I can tell) as belonging to a demographic that you aren’t interested in listening to. And that’s just a start.

DPM, the world of climbing media is littered with the graves of upstarts who thought they could make a splash and soon enough faded away to extinction. The ones that have endured fostered genuine values that build community, celebrate excellence, and document the many facets of the amazing world of climbing. Sure there were lapses in taste or judgment and they got criticized. But they learned to deal with it and moved on and got better. My advice is to do the same.

24 comments:

NM said...

From a "youngster" (I'm 26) THANK YOU so much for this post. I share in your sentiment about certain discretionary decisions the staff at DPM have made. Will they listen to me either... most likely not, but it's therapeutic to hear this feedback from you. Your astute observations resonate with me as well. Blessings.
NM

yosh said...

fued? I can't locate it...

Anonymous said...

Peter, how are you contributing to "fostering the community" by ripping on their every move. If anything I think DPM played their card perfectly. You are a hater and you aren't their demographic. Let it go. If everyone in the industry were to bitch about Mark Crowther's exploitation of an industry and community that he has never been a part of or his continual shady business practices, every climbing blog in the country would be filled with the hate mongering that you manifest on your blog. None of these publications are perfect. Pick a favorite and leave the rest alone.

Anonymous said...

dpm is just plain and simple weak sauce. all this drama they cause themselves will come back to bite them in the ass soon enough.

Peter Beal said...

Dear Anonymous,

If you paid any attention to this blog you would know I do not "rip" on DPM's "every move." If you consider me a "hater", you are right and for the reasons I mentioned. I hate seeing BS marketed as something other than what it is, and especially when it is trumpeted as pushing the envelope or experimenting.

Funny I keep hearing about demographics. The use of sexism, insults, and juvenile inside jokes is actually a throwback to an earlier and less reflective era when the only time you saw women was in a sexist context. I saw it when I was younger; it sucked then and it sucks now.

Finally if you are such an anti-hater, let's hear some substantiation regarding your characterization of Mark Crowther and maybe a name from you so we can all know who's the one with the higher moral standard here. Any reader of this blog knows who I am and where I'm coming from. Let's see if you can do the same. I won't be holding my breath waiting.

Anonymous said...

I'm a female climber who lives in Boulder, and I found the "Suburban Wankster" post to be a hilarious piece of satire. It was obviously meant to provoke as well as entertain, and it certainly succeeded in doing both. Peter, I enjoy reading your blog and the blogs of many other climbers, but I feel that often climbers here take themselves far too seriously. The "Suburban Wankster," in my opinion, is a welcome respite from that approach. Perhaps the writer took his post a little too far, but it seems pretty obvious that he is also making fun of himself, and that his juvenile comments are not meant to be taken at face value.

Peter Beal said...

Dear Anonymous III,
The SW column had its moments but to my mind relied heavily on the same type of humor that has weighed down the many previous attempts to satirize Boulder. Boulder seems like a pretty easy target for satire but he can't get it right. Particularly dismaying, besides the denigrating use of the word "gay", was the use of women as a point of satire. For this character, women who climb hard are too muscular and too skinny to be real women, in a sexualized sense. How about "men," if that's the right word for this character? What's their deal? SW remains silent.

Now obviously the character is supposed to be pathetic. Oddly enough, however, he never really points that out. Instead he's a playa who will visit topless bars to get what he needs. No, SW,as a character, is not interested in self-deprecation, unless the reader wants to supply it. Instead he is a repetitive predictable character-type that the Onion has done much better for a very long time. We can all hope that one day, SW will find Daila Ojeda's bathwater and drown himself in it.

Anonymous said...

Peter,
I don't understand why you address deadpoint so much on this blog. You have devoted several posts to this magazine recently.

Surely, deadpoint is not perfect, but it does offer something that the 3 main mags do not: It isn't painfully BORING. Every time I flip through Climbing, R+I, or Urban Climber I am absolutely bored to tears. Half of the mags are devoted to news that I read about weeks ago on the web. On top of that, much of it is geared towards ice and alpine stuff, which is practically a different sport.

Deadpoint is actually fun for me to read. It is something fresh, and the next issue isnt painfully predictable.

We dont live in 'The Fountainhead', and Deadpoint is not destroying the climbing world to make a dollar. No one is being hurt here. It is fun and entertaining. Why take things so seriously?

Peter Beal said...

I agree that the mainstream journals can be predictable, even covering practically the same material as R&I and Climbing recently did with the Northwest and bouldering. However, DPM has quite deliberately chosen, as part of their experimenting with a new approach, to use certain tactics and materials that are not particularly "fun and entertaining" as you put it, at least as far as I am concerned. In fact this stuff can be considered downright ugly once you think about it. Indeed DPM has not even bothered to try to defend themselves. Simply put, as far as I can tell, they don't care. Hence the repeated statement about my belonging to the wrong "demographic."

Have R&I, et. al. or their advertisers been completely innocent of such tactics? Of course not and when I see such material, I will call them out on it.

As far as no one being hurt, I consider DPM paying for and posting a video that shows a solo climber taking a serious fall and getting fairly messed up afterwards as pretty clear evidence that they thought that people getting hurt would be a draw, at least for some. Why else would it be there? Especially when it had been available for free on Vimeo the week before? I find that disturbing to say the least.

So if I sound too serious, I apologize but in my view there are some ethical boundaries being crossed here that have real consequences. At least one independent voice is calling attention to it. I have yet to hear or read convincing defenses of the examples I have described.

Anonymous said...

With regard to the soloing video... I have soloed a few routes that I shouldn't have and gotten away with it. After watching that video, I will probably think about it a little more seriously the next time I am considering "going for it".
Dont get me wrong, Im not naive enough to think that Deadpoint posted that video as a public service announcement for my best interests- but it serves the same purpose. Much like the fall in 'Hard Grit'(which was sold for profit), I think people need to see the bad side of excessive risk taking. Not everyone has a head as solid as Alex Honnold or Peter Croft, and I think that point can only be fully driven home by slightly graphic footage.

I dont think that video created many new free soloists, and it probably made a few kids realize that highball bouldering is a very serious game.

As far as the sexism, homophobia, etc- To me, it sounds so over the top that it is obviously satirical humor and should be taken that way.

Matt said...

Peter,

Thanks for creating this blog. It is yet another vessel for the climbing community to open up and speak about what they want and don't want from DPM. We aren't going to snivel and say, "Oops, sorry" for any content we posted in the past or the future. We are just doing things differently than you are accustom. Yes, some of our content is created to make you get hot under the collar. God forbid we get the climbing community talking about something other than Chris Sharma's latest Vblah blah blah or whether Ode is a V3 or a V11. If our content isn't right for you, that is O.K by us. As a fledgling publication, we are learning as we go and our content will evolve with time. Input like this, does guide us towards a better path, but it is doubtful we will ever be your ideal. We will certainly try to find a happy medium for all, or at least most. In the future, we respond best to criticism in the more diplomatic form of an email instead of snide Facebook comments, but everyone has their methods. Yours are just different.
We wish you and your family the best and encourage all to share their input.
Thanks to everyone for sharing their thoughts and opinions. Keep crankin!
Matt Stark
Dead Point Magazine

Peter Beal said...

Thanks Matt for your contribution. I would hardly characterize my comments on Facebook as snide I appreciate your suggestions.

Michael said...

Matt said. "We are just doing things differently than you are accustom."

What exactly is it that you are doing differently?

I enjoy DPM but see nothing different whatsoever: you use words, images, movies, design and the usual editorial content; features, interviews, photo galleries, competitions etc etc

Hold on there is something new that you are doing....

....Using sexy images of women, and parts of women, to attract the boys, and hence advertisers.

Such innovation!

It's the oldest trick in the book, and the climbing media through the ages have also, periodically, used flesh to grab eyeballs.

You are part of a climbing media heritage that exploits women.....now and again.

Should we complain? You do know what you are doing?

Hey it's OK! Just on the other channel there lots of stimulation...youporn......redtube.....you have em all bookmarked, or maybe not.

Carry on.

Mick

Peter Beal said...

Thanks Mick. By the way, you may be interested in my review of Between the Trees, a good example of climbing media that is authentic, ethical, and has something of value to say like maybe, "It's OK to think!"

Anonymous said...

"Climbing Media for the young and unruly"

-You're too old man. Lighten up.

Peter Beal said...

Well there it is I suppose

Anonymous said...

(Ed. note: Dear Anonymous, I took the liberty of editing portions of this comment. While I welcome strong opinions, I prefer them to be profanity-free.)

Thank you Peter for bringing it to the table what we've all been too inured and otherwise busy with normal lives to take the time to say .... Deadpoint is a bunch of amateur bulls**t.

As a young and unruly person, I think it's a F*****G insult for deadpoint to somehow pass off their unimaginative childish chicken scratch for something that somehow speaks for the "young & unruly," and by that they of course mean the new-school generation of climbers in the U.S., a group I am proud to belong to. (I'm 24)

I keep hearing them say that they're doing something different, or that they're being provocative somehow, but I just look at their product and scratch my head. It's not that I find their content offensive, or provocative, or something that gets my collar hot--it's quite frankly that I don't feel anything at all, which is perhaps the worst criticism any piece of writing could receive.

Matt Stark rehashes old jokes invented by a true genius, Matt Samet, and we're somehow supposed to pretend that we don't notice? Then we have the Wig rehashing his blog posts and Facebook status updates in a magazine, and that's supposed to be original content?

Deadpoint will make a joke, or write something supposedly provocative. If you are like most readers, and you respond with a shoulder shrug, then Deadpoint just says, "you're too old, you don't get it." Really, you DO get it ... You say to yourself: "No, I DO get it! I am just standing here confused because I suddenly feel like I've become stupider for squinting at the hard-to-read and poorly-laid-out text with a bunch of graffiti all over it (OHHH! SO NEW SCHOOL!) on this glorified w*****r blog."

So, like any other blog, you just click to a next one.

They claim to be this ballsy, chance-taking publication shaking up the industry, but if you look on their forum right now, there is this whole pathetic COP OUT about their "It's OK to look" ad. You can't be subversive and ballsy if you immediately undermine it by saying, "Oh, that? That was just an, um, 'experiment.' We didn't really mean it. Really, we're just a bunch of pussies! LOL!" They said that they only got two complaints ... but how many people looked at that ad and just didn't give a single s**t?

All Stark, no bite.

Andy said...

I have seen quite a bit of criticism of some of what DPM has been doing and I am trying to understand all of the issues at play. From my understanding everything is based on the ad they ran on page 27 of their Oct/Nov issue plus some follow-up actions that didn't seem very customer friendly after the ad.

I am posting because the ad in my opinion doesn't hurt the climbing community, etc. Other opinions such as sexism are so hard to generalize that individual interpretations will run the gamut and nearly impossible to define.

My only issue is that it lacks authenticity. When a company loses that (and especially a small company) they will quickly lose sight of their goal and end up compromising their identity. As a result they will never be able to connect with their audience.

Personally I am of the opinion that DPM is one of the more innovative magazines within the extreme/outdoor sport genre and I have been actively looking for any competitors or peers. The only magazine that I have encountered is http://fivefiveninemagazine.com/ and they are much smaller.

DPM’s ability to have strong content (photos and video are easily at standards with other print mags) and decent editorial (although a little too demographically targeted IMO), and a interactive website (blogs, etc) makes them a serious contender and I welcome the change.

However the ad was weak in my opinion b/c it had no real purpose. Most likely it compromised their identity and end goal and that fact that they act like it was such a "success" shows that they are still too short-sighted in their business minds to fully understand the long-term implications if this is all they are going to promote.

Granted, I love seeing good looking girls do the sports I love any day over some male figure. However I am pretty positive I can put a picture of a hot girl's ass on almost any website and generate record-breaking traffic on that site. Let’s hope that they focus on providing a quality product and ensure that the pictures and content are authentic (even if they are edgy) and not a PR play to get more attention.

Anonymous said...

I know Matt personally and live near him. I also know the forum post you refer to was made the same day the ad launched and in no way was a response to negative mail. It was created to start the discussion about the ad not to create an excuse. It may have been a bad choice of things to do, but it certainly isn't the first time a magazine in our industry has done something that received negative press.At least they opened the door for discussion.
"They said that they only got two complaints ... but how many people looked at that ad and just didn't give a single s**t?"
Obviously, based on the response on this blog, Dead Point achieved what it set out to do. BTW You obviously give a s**t, otherwise you would have never posted such an inflammatory post.
The fact that you don't post your name after calling them a bunch of pussies says much about you. My advise: Don't through stones in a glass house.

Chris K said...

Sure, a lot of the comments in the piece were in bad taste in the name of humor but I found myself worrying more about what other people would think of it rather than how I felt. I'd like to hear how homosexuals, flat-chested girls, and guys with little penises feel about it since I fall into none of these categories and didn't really feel offended.

Looking closely at the dude in the photo and reading the last paragraph, is it possible that this is really Chris Sharma in disguise convolutedly proposing to Daila a-la stadium scoreboard style? His hair, eyebrows and grin seem very Sharma-ish but it's kind of a stretch, especially since she doesn't read "American."

Anonymous said...

ALL of you have far too much free time. Everything is in good fun and f*ck you if you can't take a joke. Something hit a little too close to home, eh?

There are far more important things to worry about.

Pick your battles.

Peter Beal said...

I only wish I had too much time, Anon. Not everything is in good fun and while I'm not sure what you mean by "hit close to home" this issue resonated with a number of my readers.

Let me know about the more important battles and I'll write about them.

Anonymous said...

No one forced anyone to view the ad or the Wankster's blog. You have the choice to consume this media or not. That is everyone's choice. I understand it's not for everyone, hell, I barely visit the site, but damn, recognize that some people may like this content it's not your role to police them. It's not like anyone was 'clucking' in DPM. (and again, if so, some people like that)

Peter Beal said...

Anonymous,
While I appreciate your letting me know what my role is, I have neither the power nor the desire to police anyone. Just as anyone has the right to publish what they want, I have the right to comment on it as I see fit.