Bruce Brown did for motorcycling, what he did for surfing. He captured the childlike glee and joy we all experience when we ride, be we trailriders, weekend warriors, or just riding from one place to the next. He taught that there were mechanical aspects that we learn from, skill aspects that we try to achieve, and an overall friendship and camaraderie that sits like a warm umbrella over all of us who put balance in our lives by balancing on two wheels. He simplified it, caught it on film, put a human-nature and sometimes self-deprecating voice-over to it, and sent it out for the public to see. His influence on at least one generation was overwhelming. OAS legitimized a hobby/sport that the public had misunderstood and had pigeon-holed due to the bad publicity of a few. He brought humor and understanding to why we do it. Even if others choose not to at least now they saw what made it fun for us. It made us look real and not the misrepresented creation of some screenwriter and producer looking to sell tickets.
Bruce Brown was an advocate without trying to be an advocate. He was a storyteller with a big heart, and it showed in his work. He created a cushion of social tolerance and even acceptance for everyone from long-haired surfers to dirt-under-the-nails racers. He used McQueen to legitimize and Malcolm's boyish face and Aw Shucks reactions to humanize the broad scope of what motorcycling is.
Today, there is much consternation about a motorcycle industry whose numbers are falling. They're falling because the scales are once again getting tipped to the other side. No one is on THIS side, putting forth a unified, mass-media message of overwhelming positivity, family values, joyous participation and fun like no other. What the industry needs is not a bunch of suits getting together in an MIC conference room to discuss what to do to stem the industry's slide. What it needs more than ever, and painfully so now that he's left us, is another Bruce Brown.