Critics of Burton Snowboards Request Meeting with Company | Business | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Seven Days needs your financial support!

Critics of Burton Snowboards Request Meeting with Company 

Local Matters

Love Line
  • Love Line

At least two anti-violence organizations have asked to meet with representatives of Burton Snowboards to urge the company to stop selling product lines that feature nude women and self-mutilation.

Neither of the organizations, the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence and the White Ribbon Campaign of Vermont, a group of men working to end violence against women, has received a response from Burton, which released the controversial boards earlier this year.

One, called “Love,” features partially nude Playboy models. A description of the new line begins, “Hi. My name is Love and I’m on the market for someone who’s looking to score serious action, no matter where they like to stick it.” The other new board, dubbed “Primo,” features graphic illustrations of hands being mutilated by scissors, a box cutter, a staple gun and a vicious dog.

A consumer campaign against the new boards began September 22 after Jeff and Lezlee Sprenger, an Essex Junction couple and the parents of two young snowboarders, came across the “Love” line on Burton’s website and wrote to the company. Other organizations that pledged to contact Burton about the boards include the Girl Scout Council of Vermont, the UVM President’s Commission on the Status of Women and S.A.F.E Alternatives, a national group that offers counseling and treatment advice to people who “self-injure.”

Critics have also set up a Facebook page, “People Against the Burton Love Series,” which had 186 members as of Monday afternoon. And a debate erupted on Front Porch Forum over the weekend.

Karen Tronsgard-Scott, director of the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, said her organization requested a meeting with Burton “to discuss the dissonance . . . between the message sent by the new boards and Burton’s image as a corporation that actively and effectively promotes women within the sport . . .”

“Naturally we consider these boards to be a bad choice for Burton and a poor representation of their corporate values,” Tronsgard-Scott added.

Burton’s only response to the controversy has been a brief statement defending the new products. The company explained that the “Love” boards were created at the request of two professional snowboarders sponsored by the company. “Both Burton and Playboy were founded on principles of individual freedom,” the response stated, “and the collaboration has resulted in boards that reflect this attitude.”

The statement also offered the opinion that the “Love” boards, which will be “fully wrapped with an 18+ age disclaimer,” are destined to become collector’s items.

Shana Frahm, Burton’s global PR director, said last week that Burton executives “were not available for comment.” She also declined to say whether the company had received many complaints about the new product lines.

While it’s unclear whether opposition to the new products will carry much weight with the company, the boards have instigated a spirited debate over the meaning of art and freedom of expression. A September 30 posting on Blurt, Seven Days’ staff blog, generated more than 50 reader comments.

Some took the position that Burton, a company known for pushing boundaries, had crossed a line with products that exploit women and contribute to sexual violence.

Others, however, defended both the company and snowboard art and culture. As one poster put it, “Board art has long been cutting edge, RAW and off the cuff. Sometimes primitive, but always in your face and beautiful in the way that it transgresses simple imagery, capturing a lifestyle as not only a piece of art but as a tool of self-expression, transportation and athleticism. These images aren’t pushing any boundaries that haven’t been pushed before.”

While most of the negative attention has been focused on the “Love” line, the images on the “Primo” boards — created by renowned skateboard artist Todd Bratrud — are much more violent and disturbing. Stephanie Kaza, of the UVM President’s Commission on the Status of Women, called the bloody images “unconscionable” and said she questions the company’s business ethics.

“That’s a precious thing these days, whether people trust your business and the work you do,” Kaza said. “I think they took a really bad hit.”

Kaza, who teaches environmental humanities at UVM, said she has had students who self-injure, which she categorizes as an extreme version of disorders such as anorexia. Kaza speculates that the “Primo” boards have gotten less attention because few people know much about self-mutilation.

“People don’t talk about it,” she said. “It’s embarrassing, and it represents quite extreme emotional states, deep shame, terrible self esteem. People don’t cut themselves for amusement. It’s not funny, and it shouldn’t be entertaining.”

Click here to read about and comment on this issue on Blurt, the Seven Days staff blog.

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

More By This Author

About The Author

Brian Wallstin

Comments


Comments are closed.

Since 2014, Seven Days has allowed readers to comment on all stories posted on our website. While we’ve appreciated the suggestions and insights, the time has come to shut them down — at least temporarily.

While we champion free speech, facts are a matter of life and death during the coronavirus pandemic, and right now Seven Days is prioritizing the production of responsible journalism over moderating online debates between readers.

To criticize, correct or praise our reporting, please send us a letter to the editor. Or send us a tip. We’ll check it out and report the results.

Online comments may return when we have better tech tools for managing them. Thanks for reading.

Latest in Business

  • Mascoma Bank Is Helping Hula Transform Into a Lakeside Tech Hub
  • Mascoma Bank Is Helping Hula Transform Into a Lakeside Tech Hub

    The 15 acres of Burlington beachfront property once owned by Blodgett Oven is a “Qualified Opportunity Zone.” To redevelop it, “we were going to need some advice,” said owner Russ Scully, “somebody who would help us with the ins and outs of all the financing involved.” Enter Mascoma Bank, which has been there for Hula from day one. (Paid Post)
    • Oct 23, 2020
  • When August First Needed a PPP Loan, Mascoma Bank Made It Easy
  • When August First Needed a PPP Loan, Mascoma Bank Made It Easy

    When the pandemic closed August First, co-owner Phil Merrick hoped a federal loan could float the Burlington bakery-café. At the time only Mascoma Bank made the Paycheck Protection Program info easy to find. “They actually knew what was going on,” said Merrick. He moved the restaurant’s accounts to Mascoma, and secured the loan August First needed to survive (Paid Post).
    • Oct 16, 2020
  • Mascoma’s Innovative Loans Brought a Grocery Store — and Banking — to Burlington’s Old North End
  • Mascoma’s Innovative Loans Brought a Grocery Store — and Banking — to Burlington’s Old North End

    Redstone managing partner Erik Hoekstra, who lived in Burlington’s Old North End for 17 years, knew firsthand just how badly the neighborhood was in need of both a grocery store and a place to bank. To solve both problems, he turned to Mascoma, where an innovative loan product helped bring Jake’s ONE Market — and a new bank branch — to life. (Paid Post)
    • Oct 9, 2020
  • More »

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative
newsletters:

All content © 2020 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401  |  Contact Us
Website powered by Foundation