Don’t blame the graphics

23 Oct, 2008


It’s pretty rare when I stick up for Burton Snowboards. But today is the day.
At exactly noon today in Burlington, Vermont there is a Protest Rally in front of the Burton Factory over the “Love” and “Primo” snowboard graphics. The Burton Love features vintage Playboy models as the main graphic. The Burton Primo shows hand signals and cutting and mutilating. The peaceful protest merely asks that Burton stops marketing and selling these snowboards.
Laurent Potdevin, CEO of Burton issued a reply stating:
“As a result of the opinions of an isolated group of individuals, we want to clarify where Burton stands on our board graphic artwork. We respect everyone’s right to his or her own opinion, and we also respect the right to protest. That said, here is our position: Burton supports freedom of artistic expression. Board graphics are artwork, and art can be offensive to some and inspiring to others. Snowboarding is a sport and a lifestyle where boundaries are pushed in terms of artwork, similar to the world of music, video games and movies. From Lange ski boot ads since the 1970’s featuring barely clothed women, to the Burton Love series, winter sports have a long history of tongue-in-cheek graphics and advertising. Our product development process is driven by riders, and when some of our pro riders asked for these graphics, we backed them. Burton is a global company, and these boards have been embraced and are a success around the world. We are not breaking any laws by creating these boards, and it is our sincere belief that these graphics do not condone or encourage violence towards women in any way. Burton’s support of women, from entry level employees here in Burlington to our team riders on Olympic podiums, is unparalleled. We, as a company, are immensely proud of our record here. We will keep these boards in the market and have no intention of recalling them.”
This is snowboarding, we have always gone against the norm…if we had listened to the public outcry…we would have stopped snowboarding because we were too “dangerous” for resorts.
As a woman…I am not offended by those graphics. I see beautiful models that show no more skin than what I see on TV or in my Victoria’s Secret Catalog. While I personally wouldn’t go out and buy the snowboard (unless it was a really hot male model on a uninc) it is still a board I will probably review and ride…regardless of the board graphic. In the end the team riders helped choose the graphic and it went through many avenues before the final design released at SIA and Burton stands behind them. I find that, in spite of the heat that they are getting for this which is making headline news, the fact that they are still standing behind the choice is honourable.
Models and scantily clad women as graphics is nothing new in skiing and snowboarding. I agree that as a graphic it is freedom of expression. Whether I choose to buy it or not is my right. Like any piece of artwork, people interpret it differently and have a dislike or like for it. It is not Burton’s responsibility to manage exposure to things people might find offensive.
Fundamentally people can blame graphics all they want for violence against women. As responsible adults, people should educate and teach their kids, friends, neighbors to stand up against domestic violence.
I was in a abusive relationship and I’m sure that the guy was not influenced by a board graphic to hit women, his serious anger issues stem from a lot more than that. The issue lies deeper than Playboy models on a snowboard and no matter where you go, resort towns or cities…you might find that even a close friend is someone who has hit women. To put blame on something like a board graphic is more sickening to me than anything else. 
For cutting, to some people it is a disease and while the Primo’s graphics are pretty outrageous, I would think anyone looking at it would not do that to themselves and if they do, they have more issues than following a board graphic’s advise. In college I had a friend who cut himself (long before this graphic came out) and while I said nothing, it led to more extreme measures…he got help and moved on from cutting. I would never have blamed a board graphic for something that is mentally and physically harming a person.
So in the end I don’t understand why the drama over a board graphic. A board graphic doesn’t force someone to do that to themselves or other people. People do that to other people.
If you don’t like the graphic, don’t buy it.
Finally as a message to those reading this…violence against women and cutting are serious issues. If you know of someone hurting themselves, get them help. If you know of someone in a domestic violence relationship…get them help. Both are extreme situations and often people don’t make it out alive. Don’t stand back and let it happen, stepping in can save lives.

About the author

Shay

From the beginning of time, I was Shannon. From the beginning of snowboarding, I was Shay. From the beginning of online communities, I was Shayboarder. In the end, I’m the writer, photographer, editor, publisher, guru of sorts, product tester, curvy girl, and most importantly the snowboarder behind it all. Follow me on this journey through snowboarding, mountain biking, traveling and fun experiences!

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13 Comments

  1. FreshPow.ca
    October 23, 2008

    Well put Shay… thanks for doing a post on this!

  2. Marc
    October 23, 2008

    I wonder how much of the outrage has to do with the fact that this is Burton. Technine had semi-nude women on the top sheets of their boards a few years ago and no one seemed complain about it then. If parents don’t want their kids riding snowboards with pictures of naked ladies on them, then they should just buy them boards from a different manufacturer and stop trying to dictate what’s suitable for the rest of us.

  3. Huckleberry Hart
    October 23, 2008

    Mom!??! What are you doing on a snowboard? Does dad know about this?!?!?Oh god…

  4. a-man
    October 23, 2008

    I think the Bitchboards chick should either get naked or cut herselv. That’d be tite.

  5. Marcus
    October 23, 2008

    Good post Shay…

    I wouldn’t buy a Burton Love because my personal opinion is that the graphics suck (not to mention I’m the Swedish Mervin distributor:D). I would however participate in any protest against ignorant people who wants to stop Burton from having those ugly graphics.

  6. sam
    October 23, 2008

    yes, burton has every right to defend their graphic as ‘art’. but, its such a joke that burton uses the history sexually graphic ski and snowboards ads, equipment, to defend their position. this is the 21st century, they need to realize that they shouldn’t have to sell their snowboards with sex. these graphics are a step backwards, not a step forwards. marginalizing women through sexually explicit imagery is just as offensive as it was when snowboarding started. snowboarding should be embracing women as riders not as sex symbols.
    and, of course, there is more of a reaction when burton does this because they represent snowboarding outside of snowboarding. anyone outside of snowboarding has no idea who/what technine is. plus, a few years ago when sims had a board graphic collab with vivid/jenna jameson, burton called them out. look who is calling the kettle black, now!

  7. martin
    October 23, 2008

    Hell yea Burton!! I hate seeing the levels of PC that is around these days. There are lots of things that are changed because a tiny minority of people are offended by it. It's okay for people to be offended by something, I am sure everyone is offended by something…

    If Burton had listened to that small group of people and not released the board with that art they would have been contributing to the "blanding" of our world. What is cool about some art is that it is radical and different and censoring that is a shame. I like my world being colorful.

    Just because someone is offended that I eat animals does NOT mean I will stop… mmm time for some steak & beer.

  8. Lou G.
    October 23, 2008

    This board is about as sexually explicit as the Disney Channel.

  9. amylynn86
    October 24, 2008

    as said by Sam: “these graphics are a step backwards, not a step forwards.”

    These graphics are not a step in any direction. They are just graphics. PC is getting out of control. The board is not even showing anything, and anyway it’s just the human body. It’s a beautiful, natural, NORMAL thing. And when kids are curious about nudity (which they are) they will just do what kids have been doing for decades: look at a nudie magazine (or the internet). Hopefully parents have enough influence in their kid’s lives to let them know what is right or wrong and how the human body works. Or to at least not let their kid’s have this board. Their is more nudity on tv and advertisements.

  10. Dan S
    October 27, 2008

    Hey, whatever you’ve got to do to help sell your boards. Personally I like Capita’s nearly nude bouncing on a bed a lot more…

  11. Betsy
    November 16, 2008

    I appreciate your perspective. My perspective of this would probably have been the same before I had two daughters. Now, where once I saw boys being boys, I see boys trying to keep women in this strange, naked, vulnerable place. I see corporate advertisers spreading the message that it’s not enough for women to be talented athletes, they’ve got to be ultra feminine and “hot” too. In fact being “hot” is what it’s about. Being hot sells. I don’t have any problem with naked women. I do have a problem with body parts, such as a bare ass, with no body or brain attached on the base. I do have a problem with a company who purports to support girls and women in sports, turning around and using women stripped down to nothing but bare flesh to sell boards. And when I’m in line with my 7-year-old and she asks me what that naked girl is doing on that kids’ snowboard, I’ll say “nothing.” “She’s doing absolutely nothing. But she sure is pretty. Don’t you think?”

  12. StephenLK
    September 05, 2009

    Just an introduction. Glad to be here, I’m new. Saying hi to all you all. 😉

    SLK