Burton faces backlash for risque snowboards | VailDaily.com

Burton faces backlash for risque snowboards

Sarah Mausolf
Eagle County CO, Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” Susan Farrell doesn’t think naked models belong on Vail Mountain.

And that includes the Playboy centerfolds on Burton’s new “Love” snowboards.

“It’s pretty much semi-porn in the public eye,” said Farrell, an Eagle-Vail mom. “If people buy a Playboy, they typically go to their bathroom or their bedroom. They don’t sit in the middle of town square to view it.”

Farrell isn’t the only person upset with Burton over its 2009 Coalition line. The snowboard company faces growing public backlash over the “Love” and “Primo” models.

More than 100 people last week participated in a protest march outside Burton’s headquarters in Burlington, VT, according to the Burlington Free Press.

Here in the valley, mothers like Farrell have been writing letters to Burton to express their concern with the graphics.

Plus, Vail Resorts has prohibited its employees from using the “Love” snowboards while on duty at the resorts, spokeswoman Jen Brown said in an e-mail. That rule pertains to all snowboards with offensive or inappropriate graphics, she said.

The “Love” series shows vintage Playboy photos. Although the womens’ nipples and genitals have been covered or cropped out of view, their posteriors remain on prominent display.

“They’re close to nudity,” Farrell, 40, said. “I mean, they’re revealing a lot more than what is typical of anything in public, whether it’s a poster or an advertisement. It’s just too revealing.”

Edwards mother Linda Boyne, 41, agrees. Even though no one younger than 18 can buy the “Love” boards, Boyne said children ” not just consenting adults ” will be able to see the graphics on the slopes or around town.

“That sort of portrayal of women makes women into objects instead of people,” said Boyne, who wrote a Vail Trail column about the snowboards.

As the Playmate debate heats up, some parents are more concerned about the cartoonish pictures of self-mutilation on the “Primo” snowboards. One image shows a person cutting off his or her own finger with scissors.

“Truthfully, it’s not so much the nudity that bothers me as the gory and the revolting,” said Avon mother Jennie Fancher, 39. “Especially when things like Columbine happen, do you really want to bring such darkness into teenage boys’ lives? It just seems wrong.”

Farrell said she doesn’t understand why Burton would encourage self-mutilation.

“I don’t know who you’re targeting to promote self-mutilation,” she said. “That’s something you see on a ’20/20′ show ” people that are cutters, and they actually self-mutilate and they have problems. That’s not something that you want to promote.”

In a statement, Burton said the company supports “freedom of artistic expression.”

“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 toward women in any way,” Burton CEO Laurent Potdevin said in the statement.

Caroline Andrews, a Burton spokeswoman, refused comment beyond the written statement. She said no one was available to comment on sales figures or Burton’s future plans for the snowboard line.

The company created the Burton Playboy snowboards at the request of two of Burton’s professional snowboarders, the company said in an e-mail reply to one parent’s concerns.

“The imagery on the boards is tastefully done, and we believe that they will be collector’s items,” the statement from The Info@Burton Team said. “The snowboards will be fully wrapped with an 18+ age disclaimer to purchase.”

At the Burton store in Lionshead, employees have been storing the “Love” snowboards in a back room. Two Burton employees declined to comment.

Although the local store keeps the Playboy series out of view, the Inferno snowboard shop in Durango has been less modest.

Samantha Krouse, women’s buyer for the shop, displays the “Love” snowboards in the front window.

“Because they’re hot, I guess,” the 22-year-old said. “Personally, I think they’re cool. It’s kind of something you don’t usually see every day. We’ve definitely been getting a mixed review from parents. (The boards) don’t show anything but they’re definitely provocative, for sure.”

The most enthusiastic reviews come from male customers, Krouse said.

“Every single guy who comes into the store is just like, ‘That’s awesome,'” she said. “I think it’s kinda cool because guys love their snowboards and why not put a beautiful girl on them?”

As for the “Primo” series, Krouse said she finds the graphics kind of ridiculous but doesn’t think people should take them seriously.

“I just think they’re silly,” Krouse said. “More, like, the preteen era is going for that ” the younger kids. I’m not really into the emo gore.”

Closer to home, The Board Room in Avon expects to receive the new Burton models early next month.

Manager Carl Shepard said the “Love” boards show no nudity ” only “the hint of nudity.” And they’re tame compared to other snowboards out there, he said.

“There’s some companies that we won’t even entertain the idea of bringing them in because it’s full-on porno,” he said, listing Vivid Entertainment Group as an example. “Those are not resort friendly.”

As for the “Primo” boards, Shepard said Burton doesn’t even make them in children’s sizes.

He has some advice for people who don’t like Burton’s new boards.

“Just don’t buy them,” he said. “Simple as that. These crusades on boards, the way I look at it is they’re going to sell regardless. You can b–ch all you want but until you own your own snowboard company, stop bi—ing about graphics.”

High Life Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2938 or smausolf@vaildaily.com.

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