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.