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October 01, 2008

Burton Shreds Progress of Women with New Snowboard Line???

Burton_snowboards_love Burlington’s popular snowboarding company, Burton, is catching flack for their new "Love" line of snowboards, which feature Playboy models. Both Seven Days and the Burlington Free Press have picked up on the controversy.

The art, heavily incorporating vintage Playboy model photos onto the snowboard, is under fire from parents and leaders of women’s groups. The board does not show boobies or (va)Jay(Jay) Peak though the women are naked. Though Burton is attempting to market to the 18-24 male range, parents are upset that women are being depicted only in a sexual manner.

Don’t get me wrong, this is an important issue and advertising’s influence on children is a disturbing phenomenon in America. And clearly these are concerned parents who are most likely very involved with the lives of their children. Here lies the problem: How big a deal is this really?

Do parents expect that their sons will purchase the boards, develop a sexist mindset and become misogynists?  Will daughters immediately dash all of their aspirations in life and conform to the ancient mindset that they are only valued by how much they put out? Do we have that little faith in how we raise our children? I’m certainly not saying that Burton’s taste is less than questionable and their desire to sell merchandise hasn’t clouded their view of corporate responsibility, in the process betraying some of the consumers that always valued it as a good ambassador of Vermont business. But let’s be fair — there are bigger things to discuss here than a snowboard.

I firmly believe that parenting should always be paramount to the influence of corporations, who have the specific aim to sell something, often to their children. For instance, I don’t hear a large public outcry from parents criticizing the aggressive advertising to children that McDonalds does, which is also very damaging to a child’s health, though more physiological than psychological. Shielding kids from everything is not the answer. The world is too big, too diverse, and too strange. Things are not as idyllic as we like to think.

Perhaps these controversial boards can present this as an opportunity for parents to teach their children the value of themselves, and how to identify issues that really need to be discussed more thoroughly. An open dialogue is always more effective than repression and condemnation. Who knows, maybe instead of the doomsday scenario presented by some parents coming to fruition, the children will be more progressively-minded and capable of becoming intelligent, independent thinkers who treat others with respect. Burton most likely will not discontinue the line so I guess we’ll find out.


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michael james hawk

the sensual is part and parcel of who we are - thus, the continual success of playboy, and new fertility goddesses like madonna and paris hilton.

obviously, these vintage fotos form an irony around the brand: new technology juxtaposed to old fotographs, exactly what the kids like. i would rather have the boys and girls shredding on the hill with these images of the wonderous human form [which it is] versus images of war and violence.

but even then, the image lives to inform us what we are and where we are going. this is why graffiti is valid. this is why the first amendment is truly an historic principle in human thought.

michael james hawk
seattle WA USA


I'd ride the hell out that board. 9394

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