It’s been two and a half months since Burton unveiled its new “Primo” and “Love” snowboard lines, but the letters of outrage keep on coming. With this final, end-of-the-year batch, we acknowledge the fourth quarter’s biggest local story — outside the election and the economy, that is — and add our two cents: Enough already.
Burton coverage in Seven Days:
- “Antiviolence Advocates Ponder Next Move in Burton Protest,” December 3
- “Flipping the Board,” November 26
- “Burton Critics to Rally at Company’s Headquarters,” October 22
- “Critics of Burton Snowboards Request Meeting with Company,” October 8
Burton coverage in “Blurt,” the Seven Days staff blog:
- “Burton Founders Defend Their Boards,” November 26
- “Resorts Ban Employee from Riding Controversial Boards,” October 28
- “‘Please Talk to Us,’” October 23
- “Burton CEO Defends Controversial Boards,” October 23
- “Board Critics to March on Burton,” October 21
- “Burton Snowboard Controversy: Update and Op-Ed,” October 10
- “Burton’s Offensive New Boards,” September 30
Has anyone seen the recently released movie Saw 5? Did anyone notice that at the end the man has to saw his hand in half? I heard no protest against such gruesome acts, and yet when a snowboard shows this, it gets ripped apart. It’s a cartoon graphic, and so many worse things have been depicted in the media and on the Internet, I wonder why anyone even cares.
My second point: Why would organizations ever cut funding for Burton’s CHILL program?! By cutting funding, they are hurting the children, not the company.
My third point refers to a comment posted in Seven Days about young, boot-clad men riding on top of naked women, and how this promotes the degradation of women: If any of these protesters actually knew anything about riding, or had a passion for riding, they would understand the love and pride that is vested in every rider’s board. It is in no way a dishonor to be stamped on a snowboard. These shred sticks are practically holy in the eyes of a true rider. I think that these people should try and understand the sport before attacking it.
I’m only 16, and I see that these protests are useless. This is a state where the live-and-let-live attitude was once a strong opinion. This state allows naked people to walk around in front of their kids but refuses to allow a snowboard to depict a half-naked woman? Come on people, just let it go and let it die. It’s all this 16-year-old shredder can ask for.
‘BURTON IS RIGHT’
I’m a 28-year-old female who’s sick and tired of listening to these overactive feminists and antiviolence groups speak for her. I can speak for myself, but you might not like it.
Burton is right. There’s a new generation of females out there who will either find the boards “tongue in cheek” and humorous, or won’t waste their time being bothered by the issue. We’ve got better things to do, bigger fish to fry. It seems sometimes people aren’t happy unless they have something to complain about, and this time around, Burton has unfairly caught the brunt of Vermont’s boredom.
Lighten up, everyone. Find that sense of humor you had when you were our age and hid the pornos under your bed. What’s the difference between a 10-year-old reading a Maxim magazine or playing violent video games you probably already bought them for Christmas, and seeing one of the boards? There isn’t one. But you don’t see people out there protesting or boycotting Maxim or “Call of Duty,” do you?
I’d just like to say, rock on, Burton. I’m a woman, and I happen to enjoy toilet humor and half-naked women.
Burton has done many remarkable things for our communities, our state and for women. That fact should not be ignored in all this controversy.
However, in their recent interview, Donna and Jake seem to have missed the point of the outrage at their recent “Love” board. As a 24-year-old woman, I can safely assume I fit into Donna Carpenter’s group of “younger women.” And as a 24-year-old woman, I am regularly offended by the objectification of women, and do not find it “kitschy” or “tasteful.”
This includes Maxim magazine, as Jake mentioned, but also includes the “Love” snowboard. Popular singers, movies and advertisements constantly display women as objects whose only real importance or worth lies in their sex appeal. Burton’s snowboard is another disappointing example of this trend.
One in six women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime, and college-age women are four times more likely than any other age group to be sexually assaulted. If this is Burton’s audience, perhaps they would be interested in addressing the reality of women’s lives rather than creating snowboards that continue to display women as objects ready for men to take pleasure in.
Just because the “Love” snowboard isn’t the “worst image” doesn’t mean it isn’t perpetuating and supporting a dangerous and harmful trend in our society.
What is most obvious about the Carpenters’ response is that they don’t get the connection between demeaning images of women and violence against women. They seem to be intelligent enough, but they’re not willing to consider this valid objection.
What many object to is Burton’s use of pornography, because with it they have fallen far from their cutting-edge style and have used the lowest common denominator to appeal to their audience: sex.
Their new board’s list of “things we should be fighting now” is especially ironic because it includes forms of violence against women, when they have in fact added to the problem by using images of nude women on their boards.
They assume people won’t be shocked by these images because they and our society have become insensitive to the practice of using images of women to sell products. The incessant repetition of these images conditions us to see them as “kitschy” when we should be insulted by them because they are degrading.
With freedom of speech comes responsibility, and the Carpenters have shirked theirs. The boarders Jake Carpenter listens to — young men — are interested in nude women. When he chose to furnish them with these images, Carpenter neglected his responsibility as an adult to say, “No, that would be disrespectful and an insult to women.”
Burton does a disservice to men as well as women because they’ve made the practice of showing women as sexual objects acceptable. Basically they’ve said, “Go ahead and demean women; we did.”
I would ask the Carpenters to educate themselves by checking out Killing Us Softly, Jean Kilbourne’s series about how advertising affects society’s perception of women at mediaed.org. Maybe then they will get it.
WRONG ABOUT RIGHT-WING
More than anything else, I was struck by Jake Carpenter stating that in Vermont, “We’d like to think we’re not living in an ultra-right-wing state.” Holy cow! A state that went for Obama by 68 percent? That overwhelmingly elected Bernie Sanders? According to a 2008 town-meeting Doyle poll, Vermont, the first state to enact civil unions, now favors same-sex marriage 54 to 37 percent. The same poll found 65 percent of Vermonters support decriminalization of marijuana. Sure, the state still has its conservative, pro-gun Republicans, but are those who actively oppose Burton’s controversial boards mostly of that ilk? I think Jake mutilated his words.
CONSIDER THE AUDIENCE
This controversy over Burton Snowboards’ limited-edition “Love” collection of boards adorned with vintage Playboy magazine models has gone far enough.
For weeks now, critics of the boards have been raising the issue of how the boards will have an influence on teenage youth. But have they ever stopped to consider who’s actually buying these boards? At prices of over $400 apiece (and probably much higher on eBay), I seriously doubt that very many teens can afford to buy them, especially with our economy sliding into a deep recession.
Has it ever occurred to these critics that it might be mostly college-aged and older adult men buying these boards to hang on their bedroom or college dorm-room walls? Let’s get real here. Does anyone really expect to see these boards actually ridden down the slopes, with their images of nude Playboy models bearing the inevitable scars of wear and tear?
I seriously doubt it.
I wonder just how many of the “Love” boards’ critics have collections of Playboy magazines stashed away in their own bedroom closets? Those who do are hypocrites who really need to shut up.
Perhaps Burton, in the spirit of fair play and equal time, should consider a limited-edition collection of “Love” boards with vintage Playgirl magazine male models (although Playgirl ceased publication in August amid persistent rumors that its readership had become predominantly gay men).
WE THE PEOPLE
The good people at Burton Snowboard put “We the People” on their newest board [“Flipping the Board,” November 26]. If anyone at Burton had ever bothered to read past the first three words of the U.S. Constitution, they would know that citizens have a right to protest, write letters and boycott companies.
Jake Carpenter thinks his “Primo” boards are humorous. So, what is funny about kids slicing their bodies with razor blades? He feels that I should be concerned about “poverty, famine, Wall Street greed, political partisanship, homophobia, bigotry, cancer, militarism and global warming.” Mr. Carpenter, for your information, I am deeply concerned about all of these things, so excuse me if I am also concerned about kids slicing themselves to ribbons.
Mr. Carpenter thinks this makes me an “ultra-conservative.” This is the first time in my entire life that I’ve ever been called one. In the Seven Days piece, the Carpenters tell us how to raise our children and what we should teach them. Well, I think they are outrageously arrogant. Apparently, Wall Street isn’t the only place with a greed problem.
FREEDOM TO PROTEST
I was glad to see the Burton Carpenters finally engage in the public debate about their recent snowboard design choices. Similar issues about American Apparel and Red Square ads have been raised in this very paper: Freedom of speech also grants the freedom to protest against someone else’s free-speech choices. If the couple really only cared about the opinions of their snowboarding target audience, the public outcry should leave them cold. If, however, they wish to maintain a respected position in Vermont’s public eye as women’s rights advocates and philanthropists, they have to consider what is acceptable to feminists, social service providers, etc. I, for one, will not be bullied into believing my views and values are irrelevant to a younger generation.
A pin-up receives my disdain, whether it’s on a snowboard, my auto mechanic’s shop wall or in my uncle’s office. It’s an old, tired image from a time when sexual harassment was even more common than it is today.
As a mother and teacher, it is my obligation to stand up and speak out. Our teens and young-adult children look to us for guidance, regardless of their rebellious behavior. An elder on a protest march may not be sexy or fashionable, but she/he is still a powerful role model!
BURTON’S TOO BIG
In all the controversy about Burton Snowboard’s graphics, there is a deeper context that is being missed. Frankly, I thought it more offensive when Burton offered cash rewards for “poaching” at Mad River Glen, where the co-op members have decided they do not want the boarding culture. Burton’s owners, the Carpenters, thought it would be cute to offer cash incentives to violate community values. Now they are marketing board graphics to increase their cachet, which similarly violate community values.
Burton is one of Vermont’s largest businesses, with a very narrow market “demographic” and a corporate goal of “dominating” that market globally. It’s no wonder that community concerns and values would be ignored in favor of the “edge” values of their youthful customers.
No matter how much business owners try to make themselves an integral part of their communities, the requisites of a large business venture must, at some point, override local concerns. Bottom line: Big is not good for Vermont. Small, local, community-based businesses can both serve and represent Vermont’s rural values. Global business enterprises cannot.
I can’t help but wonder what choices Donna and Jake Carpenter would make for Burton if they had three daughters instead of three sons.