When American Accents on video were mandatory

I recently saw skateboarding documentary ‘All This Mayhem’, a breathtakingly tragic story about two teenage brothers, Tas and Ben Pappas, who tore Tony Hawk a new one on the vert ramp in the 90s before their lives spiraled out of control due to excessive drug use.

Tas and Ben Pappas’ discovery of the skate ramp in the 90s was quickly followed by a forensic investigation of their local Movieland for Skateboarding videos. (According to my girlfriend, who had the much sought after high school job of working in a video store, skateboarding videos were some of the most popular titles on offer. Up there with  Caddyshack and Uncle Buck.) They watched and listened as the American skaters introduced them to the new sport and culture.

Pretty soon, the Pappas boys got their hands on a camcorder and skateboarding videos of their own naturally followed- complete with American accents.

My friend Clint’s Dad also had a video camera in the 90s and it reminded me of a curious quirk of the era. For some reason American accents were mandatory. In the 90s, it seemed everything American was so exotic. I remember my sister buying me a Washington Redskins cap when I was in year 9. I handled it like it was an important historical artifact from a distant land. We didn’t have the healthy cynicism for all things American we have today. We didn’t question the nutritional integrity of their cuisine. I never suspected the name Washington Redskins was, in fact, culturally insensitive.

In the 90s, mastering the American accent was essential when presenting to camera. The Pappas brothers used theirs to make skateboarding videos but Clint and I came from a slightly wealthier, inner Eastern suburb and we made golf instructional videos but our American accents were just as thick!

Did you make videos as a teenager like me and Clint with the American accent? What were they? Leave a comment below…

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