Dec 13, 2012

Posted by in Front Page, GTFO

3 Reasons Why GoPros Should GoAway

3 Reasons Why GoPros Should GoAway

There’s a commercial that recently has been playing before movies in theaters. You may have seen it – tanned surfers shredding gnarly waves, mountaineering badasses braving the elements at the tops of the world, kayakers careering down white water. And all these athletes had a curious contraption on their heads: a weird looking helmet, to which a camera was attached. These cameras allow you to record a first person video of your outdoor adventure. I had seen GoPros a few times on my climbing trips, and was aware of the growing library of GoPro videos on youtube, but I had always assumed that it was, and always would remain, on the fringes of our culture.


Now, with this national advertising blitz, GoPros threaten to take over our culture – they’ll metastasize like a cancer, not stopping until the day that everyone wears a GoPro everywhere they go. This could be our world soon, unless we work to stop its spread.

Note the “Pro” in the word “GoPro,” and note that it’s there for a reason. Professional athletes have a reason for wearing them. A backcountry skier carving powder on an epic mountain and avoiding avalanches – people might want to watch that. But no one wants to see a GoPro video of you at a local ski resort.

Recently while rock climbing, I saw a fat middle aged man flail up a route on which most beginners would have no trouble. I saw this guy and thought, Get after it fat old guy! I’m glad you’re out of your house, getting some exercise. But then I saw it: a Go-Pro, an absurd periscope peeking out from his helmet. I immediately lost all respect for him – in seconds he transformed from a cool guy courageously trying something new to a self-serving narcissist who was climbing just so he would have a video with which to brag to his friends.

Rule: If you’re not actually doing something something cool (the criterion of coolness, let’s say, is if the jaw of someone watching literally drops more than an inch in amazement) then a normal, non-POV camera will do just fine.

They Look Absurd
It’s not that the GoPro brand of cameras look bad: It’s that any camera you could attach to your head would look stupid. GoPros look like they’re from a bad sci-fi movie from the 90’s, a really low budget, straight-to-video one starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. Like, everyone who wears them are cyborgs, ready to kill all the non-GoPro wearers. That’s the impression I get, at least, which doesn’t give off pos-vibes while you’re outdoors.

Even if GoPros were redesigned by a collaboration between Louis Vitton and a reincarnated Steve Jobs, and were made out of both cashmere and gold, they still wouldn’t look good. Cameras were made to be held in your hands, like a cellphone. Can you imagine how absurd it would be to wear a phone on your head? – Oh wait, that’s called a Bluetooth, and they look terrible.

If not in your hands, cameras belong on top of tripods. Consequently, whenever someone wears a GoPro, it give me the strange feeling that they aren’t a real human, but just a biological tripod that moves around to gets cool footage of the outdoors.

Rule: GoPros will never look cool.

They Further The Self-Absorption of an Already Self-Absorbed Culture
Cultural critics have been calling my generation, the so called Millenials, the generation of narcissism. We tweet about every inane moment of our lives, as if what we ate for lunch was important, and we stroke our egos on Facebook, posting pictures to try to make ourselves look cool.

GoPros have given our quiver of self-absorption one more arrow. The line of GoPro cameras is not so subtlety named HERO – as in, you can be a hero if you wear our camera.

In a Wallstreet Journal article about Woodman Labs, the company that makes GoPros, CEO and founder Nick Woodman notes that certain GoPro cameras can be directed toward their wearers, so instead of the camera looking out toward the wilderness, it depicts the wearer while he or she shreds a mountain, carves a wave etc. Go Pros allow us to star in our own movies. “This is a huge enabler for that type of ego satisfaction,” Woodman admits.

My fear is that GoPros will suck the immediacy out of outdoor adventure. If you’re wearing a GoPro, then you’re probably thinking about how this all will look like to your friends, about how you can look more badass – what you won’t be thinking of is how much fun you’re having in the moment. People won’t do a rock climbing route because it’s fun and challenging, but because it’ll make them look cool on Youtube.

I’m about to overstate my case: People like GoPros because they’re afraid of dying. They know their memories of epic trips will yield to death soon enough, but a first person video of the activity could be the shards they shore against their ruin. This is the height of vanity.

Rule: One day you’ll be dead and forgotten, no matter how many GoPro videos you make.