“Alleged” doesn’t belong in an apology

 

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Um.

Parkour, closely related to free running, is cool. Fun to do and to watch. You’re dashing through the built world like an obstacle course, bouncing off stuff, leaping from building to building as if pursued by killers, hurtling walls, maybe tossing in unnecessary back flips – what’s not to love?

Maybe lack of a salary. One way around this is the Storror Parkour way, in which you sell parkour gear. You can put up parkour videos on YouTube and FaceBook, showing your sponsored team wearing Storror attire. (Storror is based in the UK.)

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Not an expert, but I call this move the “hoick.”

On tour in Southern California, the Storror team decided to shoot some promo video. At Joshua Tree National Park, full of lovely boulders to carom off and onto. Sounds brilliant.

But the videos they released showed team members breaking laws and treating at least one Joshua tree badly. There were remarks about drones which showed they knew it was illegal to fly drones in the park, they did so anyway, and upset birds attacked the drone. They adorably titled one video “It’s Illegal To Fly Drones Here?!” They were shown building a illegal fire with illegally gathered deadfall wood.

All in Storror gear.

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From a Storror Parkour video. That Joshua tree is not dead. It’s not “fallen”. If only there’d been some way to do ADVANCE RESEARCH.

Social media. Backlash. They were criticized for these things and for others, such as potentially harassing a snake they filmed.

Storror put out this apology:

To the residents of Joshua Tree National Park and all those affected by our recent content and alleged crimes committed in the area, we apologise. (IT’S A NATIONAL PARK. IT BELONGS TO THE NATION. THOSE ARE MY TREES YOU WERE FUCKING WITH. “ALLEGED” DOESN’T BELONG IN AN APOLOGY.)

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Like I say, usually more urban.

1. We were aware that the Joshua Trees are protected but did not fully understand the extent or the severity of the protection. (BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T DO YOUR ADVANCE RESEARCH.) We caused no damage to the fallen (NOT FALLEN, NOT DEAD) trees and intended solely on the artistic use of a new and abstract obstacle. We understand certain damage is not always visible but must insist that these were not our intentions at all when we used the tree as a takeoff. (YOU DON’T GET TO BE THE ONES TO DECIDE WHAT DAMAGE TO RISK.)

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Banking off urban palm trees. Not the same as Joshua trees in their own national park.

2. Drone laws across the world have progressed very sporadically and we understand that our reaction to the rule was ignorant and potentially offensive. Birds tend to circle drones out of curiosity but admittedly, the drone has potential to cause distress, similarly to the influence of a bigger bird of prey for example. We wrongly assumed (BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T DO ADVANCE RESEARCH) the rule prioritised the residents and visitors of the peaceful park, thus moving considerably far from any inhabitance before flying the drone for a few shots of the breathtaking sunset. Capturing the incredible view was our only, and to some, selfish intention.

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Not actually necessary to wear special parkour gear.

3. We were unaware (BECAUSE NO ADVANCE RESEARCH) that collecting wood from the surrounding area was not permitted and further apologise for lighting a fire away from designated camp grounds despite being aware (WHAT THE ACTUAL?) of the risk and driving a considerable distance from the park. Since (DO YOU KNOW WHAT ADVANCE RESEARCH IS?) hearing stories of forest/bush fires, we fully understand the worry and distress this footage may have caused. We can confirm the fire was completely smothered (WE SHOULD TRUST YOU?) and the imminent vicinity was soaked with roughly 4 gallons of water before we left the area.

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What. No.

4. Walking back to camp, we spotted the snake by the trail. Being who we are (UH HUH), we filmed the snake, documented the encounter and moved on. This happened over the course of roughly 15 seconds. WE DID NOT KILL THE SNAKE AND WOULD NEVER FATHOM SUCH AN ACT. A number of articles have unfortunately warped this information and further fuelled the anger expressed by those affected.

Photo: Manfred Werner. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Joshua trees consider this dense forest.

We intended no level of distress to anyone, and wanted to celebrate the beauty and diversity of the park through showcasing the sense of freedom everyone gets when they visit. We have taken the youtube videos down and would like to offer a final apology for having fun at the clear expense of the Joshua Tree community and those affected by our recent antics. (ARE WE AGAINST FUN ANTICS? WELL…)

Bad bad apology.

It’s riddled with excuses and language that minimizes what they did. They say the tree they used as a springboard had “fallen.” They say they’re all about the art – and don’t mention commercial promotion.

Drone law so confusing! They assumed the rules against drones were meant to privilege locals – to protect wildlife in nesting season? Who knew? They claim the birds just felt curious, not threatened. Besides, the view was incredible – did we mention we’re artists?

And fire. No. No no no. YOU DO NOT FOOL WITH FIRE IN CALIFORNIA. Thousands and thousands of acres have burned because of campfires people thought were smothered.

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Swedish youth working in the popular ‘Late to School’ genre

It doesn’t look to us like they did the snake any harm, but by now their credibility is shot full of holes and sinking.

Then there’s snarkiness. That’s who we are! Media warped what we did! We just love fun – Don’t you?

The best part of the apology is that they took the videos down, though bits can be seen here and there on the web.

They’re not the first to think of Joshua Tree National Park as a cheap stage. A place to tag the landscape in the name of art. Or in the name of your name – sections of the park have been closed for months at a time after being promoted on social media as a tagging venue. Beth Orton was only doing what the photographer told her when she spray-painted a Joshua tree, and besides she thought it was dead.

U2 only used a photograph. Works for me.

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Do not search for “parkour fails” if you wince at the sight of daring people getting hurt. (This jump ended well.)

They’re not the first sports-promoters to display ignorant contempt for trees. What about those Joshua trees, which apparently look dead to so many people? They grow in a limited area, in a harsh environment. An environment where it’s not really possible to survive with a thick coat of bright green leaves. They can live hundreds of years, even a thousand, IF JERKS LEAVE THEM ALONE. They tend to have few branches, grow spindly, and tilt readily.

The species may be particularly threatened by climate change because there are no longer any giant Shasta ground sloths around to eat their fruit and distribute their seeds to new growing areas. Not really Storror Parkour’s fault.

But the sloths lived until about 11,000 years ago. SorryWatch suspects it was humans who wiped them out (sooo tasty!). Thus, like the rest of us, it behooves Storror Parkour to try to make up for damage done by our species and help preserve Joshua trees, not use them as trampolines.

(Hat tip to David Gans, who alerted us to this one!)

Image: FunkMonk/Michael B.H. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Reconstruction of Giant Shasta Ground Sloth, contemplating a daring leap.

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8 Responses to “Alleged” doesn’t belong in an apology

  1. m.n. says:

    Ftr, four gallons is not *remotely* sufficient to ensure a fire is completely out, even for a quite small fire :/

  2. jnfr says:

    Thanks for this.

  3. Thanks for this. Another clueless manufacturer to avoid.

  4. Sinead O'Rebellion says:

    Oh man. That was awful! What do they think “sporadically” means? Having trouble figuring out what they’re trying to say here:

    >Drone laws across the world have progressed very sporadically and we understand that our reaction to the rule was ignorant and potentially offensive.

    • sumac says:

      They mean “drone laws are different in different places, so we can pretend we didn’t know what the laws were in any given place.”

  5. Kris Naelapaa says:

    Great article! With Global Warming trees and wildlife and parks are being unusually stress. Walk with a light footprint. Protect the environment before everything of value disappears.

  6. JDM says:

    A lot of people aren’t aware of how delicate dry landscapes are. BTW, this comment of mine is not excusing people who don’t know, but is more along the lines of a PSA. I lived in a seasonal dry/wet area of Northern California, with some acreage of grassland. At one point someone drove over to an outbuilding instead of leaving their vehicle in the gravel parking area. This kind of thing, done back east, would be no big deal. But where we were, you could clearly see the track made by this one-time drive ten years later.

    And that’s an area less vulnerable than much of the California desert. As for fire, we had one once that started from a spark – a single spark – from a guy who was doing some grinding on metal. He’d thoroughly wet down an area of more than twenty feet around his work space, but even so it wasn’t enough. Burned over eight acres and came within ten feet of several buildings, even with the help of several people plus our local fire station.

    This stuff is incredibly dangerous in environments like the west, especially during dry seasons.

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