Tony Hawk must be one of the most loveable celebrities on the planet. An immensely talented professional skateboarder, entrepreneur and philanthropist, he’s also a very humble dude with a great sense of humour – which is what probably inspired his latest skating collaboration.
‘The Birdman’ has teamed up with Liquid Death, an irreverent canned water company, to produce the Hawk Blood Deck – a limited-edition skateboard deck that’s been decorated with red paint containing the man’s very own blood. 10% of the profits are going towards charities 5 Gyres and The Skatepark Project, and all 100 of the things have already sold out.
It’s brilliant marketing. But it’s inadvertently led to the creation of 2021’s latest viral trend, as well as sparking a rather less light-hearted debate about moral panic in America. Keeping up so far?
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If you’ve been browsing your favourite celebrities’ social media accounts over the last 24 hours, you may have seen a sea of comments all saying “nah he tweakin”, and you might have been asking yourself what that’s all about?
Well, it’s not bots – Instagram’s algorithm would be able to nip that in the bud. It’s people.
Where did it come from? Fans of rapper/singer/songwriter Lil Nas X have taken it upon themselves to make it into a meme of sorts, after the Old Town Road star used the phrase when commenting on an Instagram post sharing news of Tony Hawk’s bloody skateboard.
The 22-year-old (real name Montero Lamar Hill) earlier this year released a similar collaboration with Brooklyn-based streetwear company MSCHF called the ‘Satan Shoes’ – a modified pair of Nike Air Max 97s with a drop of genuine human blood embedded in the sole that also featured a pentagram pendant and a Bible verse printed on the side. These shoes generated a huge amount of controversy upon release and were even the subject of a court case.
Upon hearing about Hawk’s copycat blood gimmick, Lil Nas X has taken to Twitter to point out the double standard of how Hawk’s project has barely caused a stir, when his shoe project was the centre of an enormous media maelstrom.
now that tony hawk has released skateboards with his blood painted on them, and there was no public outrage, are y’all ready to admit y’all were never actually upset over the blood in the shoes? and maybe u were mad for some other reason?
— nope 👶🏾 (@LilNasX) August 25, 2021
Lil Nas X, a black gay man, seems to be implying he has been treated differently than Hawk, a straight white man. Indeed, it’s hard to ignore the double standard. The furore over Lil Nas’ shoes, some have argued, smacked of homophobia and moral panic – like something from the AIDS crisis in the 80s and 90s.
That said, while many of Lil Nas’ fans support him, many have also suggested that the controversy had less to do with his sexuality or race and more to do with Satanism, and how taboo that still is in the US, which is still a very religious country.
Sir, you’re very talented and smart. Please don’t continue to miss the point. Folks didn’t like your shoes because it was a Satan shoe. And the vast majority of people, irregardless of their view towards your sexuality, don’t play with satanic imagery. No one’s out to get you.
— Ruslan (@RuslanKD) August 25, 2021
As for Hawk, he hasn’t weighed into the discussion yet – although we don’t really see what he has to gain from doing so. We just imagine Liquid Death is loving all the free press.
If Lil Nas’ Satan Shoes are anything to go by, the Hawk Blood Decks will no doubt become real collector’s items. Despite MSCHF being forced to recall the sneakers, very few customers seem to have taken them up on that, and you can find pairs of the sneakers selling for well in excess of their US$1,018 retail price – take this pair going for US$1,900 on eBay.
As they say – any publicity is good publicity…