A Fragmentary History of Skateboarding Videos – Chapter 15 - Never Stop Hopping Fences

Chapter 15 – Never Stop Hopping Fences!

Fragment 100

Pretty Sweet [2012] is a Girl and Chocolate video. Pretty, sweet, girl, chocolate, can you dig it?

Fragment 101

In 2012, Girl was one year away from turning 20 and sister company Chocolate two years away. They were (still are) considered giants in the skate industry and a look at Pretty Sweet’s cast will attest to that. One almost gets the feeling that, in 2012, there wouldn’t be enough pro skaters left in the industry to form another team outside of Girl and Chocolate.

Fragment 102

Pretty Sweet has that same “once in a lifetime” feeling I described in chapter 8 a propos of Welcome to Hell [1996]. Only instead of 7 skaters there are over 20 here. Brian Anderson has some tricks in Alex Olson’s part, which makes him the only skater to have been in both these videos, but there are plenty more legends (not counting the guest legends that show up for the ending credits). Marc Johnson and Eric Koston were still there, before having moved on to start their own brands. Guy Mariano gets last part, 21 years after having starred in Video Days. And he kills it too. He’s not just there, he shows he’s kept up with over 20 years of street skating evolution.

Fragment 103

Girl videos ever since Goldfish [1994] have always had narrative skits and fiction intermingled with the skating, much in the way that the early Bones Brigade videos did, which necessarily entails some production values. I have commented, for example, on Yeah Right!’s use of special effects (in chapter 12). But one look at Pretty Sweet’s intro announces it as a super-production. This is as close as going full-Hollywood as it gets.

Fragment 104

Everything was carefully thought-out. The first words you hear in the soundtrack are “Fuck California”, but then the first images are of the typical Californian skate session setup. The relation between what we see and the song’s lyrics is ironical. The song is about the downsides of migrating to California, something many skaters had to do in order to be a part of the skate industry, but the images we are shown are a celebration of skateboarding, particularly it’s Californian-school-yard street session variety.

Fragment 105

One of the first things we see is someone hopping a fence, a highly symbolical act for the skate community (“Don’t Ever Stop Hopping Fences” is written on a huge banner on the wall of one of the world’s most famous skateparks). Fence hopping represents street skating’s core values: transgression, skating stuff that was not built to be skated (instead of ramps like in the vert age), having to skate under the pressure of knowing you may be kicked out or fined by the cops, etc.

Fragment 106

Except once the drone flies over the fence, we don’t find the deserted school or the hushed-up mission mode we might expect, instead we find an all-out skate extravaganza. There’s people skating everywhere, some going, some coming, some landing hard tricks, some just pushing, people on the roofs and jumping from roof to roof. It’s lively. It’s compelling. It’s a skateboarder’s dream. Can you really mean “fuck California”? Of course not.

Fragment 107

It all ends with hugs and high-fives and confetti in slow-motion. And of course by “ends” I mean the intro, so the video is really beginning. A second, shorter, less-nostalgic intro follows and then there’s Vincent Alvarez’s part to remind us of why skateboarding deserves to be celebrated even if in a slightly over-the-top fashion.

By Sebastião Belfort Cerqueira 

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