After watching a re-run of Fuel TV’s “The 808″ again for the first time in months last night, I was left with the same embarrassment and sickening feeling that I had the first time I saw the original episodes that began airing last summer.The 808 sends the wrong message in so many ways. Kala Alexander tries to paint himself as the peace-keeping Sheriff of Pipe, but the reality is that he is a whistle-toting thug dispensing vigilante justice. And the execs at Fuel are knowing accomplices.
How many 16 year olds out there, surfers, skaters, snowboarders, motocrossers, watch this show and think “we need to protect our turf by any means necessary, too.” Makua Rothman, who recently just signed a deal with RVCA, punching out someone for dropping in on him shows a lack of discipline and self control that will likely end up causing him difficulty in the future (i.e. Sunny Garcia). Not only that, but had the submissive body-boarder he was kneeing and punching decided to press assault charges he would simply need to show tape of this assault to any police officer and Rothman would be in a world of trouble.
For Fuel to air this episode and all of the others that include this type of gangster mentality is irresponsible programming and is the same as condoning it. For example, viewers know that the violence on a show like The Sopranos was a scripted drama. We all new they didn’t really kill anybody. The 808 is the worst sort of reality show, because the violence is real.
The scene that included a whacked out Buttons Kaluhiokalani (who also made an appearance on “Dog The Bounty Hunter) at the Turtle Bay restaurant meeting of “Da Hui” hierarchy really left me scratching my head. Bug eyed, whacked out, and unintelligible. How did that sequence end up in the final cut? When you cut out all of the fluff this show did nothing more than glorify drug use, violence, scamming chicks, and drinking.
Fuel likes to portray itself as a hip, clean cut messenger for the world of action sports and, for the most part, they are right on. However, by putting the 808 on air for every 14 year old wanna-be to watch and learn from they are inspiring a whole new generation in the wrong way and teaching them that this is the way you need to carry yourself to make it to the next level.
And what about the other message. The one that says “We own this spot, keep out.” Hawaii has a bad enough rap for localism without this. This message is intentional on Kala’s part, I believe, in an effort to keep his own slice of the pie. So much for the “Aloha Spirit”, I guess.