"What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist."
- Salman Rushdie
Le sigh... Whilst browsing through an article on Kingpinmag.com, we were struck by how tame snowboard graphics are compared to the far end of the spectrum of skate graphics. Seb Carayol’s coffee table book Agents Provocateurs chronicles skate artists's flirtations with mild racism, violence, nudity, drugs, corporate life, canine cuisine, religion, conspiracy theories and, most important of all, black humour.
Meanwhile, this year Burton have made a snowboard that smells like a Fab Lolly.
It's not that we condone any of the above, but skateboarding is obviously way more comfortable at skirting the line between light provocation and public outrage.
Seb Carayol’s coffee table book 'Agents Provocateurs' chronicles skate artists's flirtations with mild racism, violence, nudity, drugs, corporate life, canine cuisine, religion, conspiracy theories and, most important of all, black humour.
Some of it is down to simple economics - it's easier to justify a run of racy artwork on cheap skate decks than a line of £400 snowboards - but it's probably down to all the parental influence present in snowsports. Fos has successfully run Heroin Skateboards for years in the UK (there was also a homegrown skate brand called 'Unabomber' - I remember my mother freaking out when I came home in a t shirt bearing the slogan aged thirteen), but put some PG-13 Playboy model shots on a board and those pesky mums and dads will soon be picketing your headquarters.
However, there have been a few valiant attempts over the years to poke a middle finger up at society from the topsheet of a shred stick, here's some that succeeded... and some that almost did. You decide for yourselves which are which.
Burton - Love/Primo 2008/09
Surprisingly, these were the two lines in 2008 that caused mass hysteria outside Burton's Burlington headquarters. Well, by mass hysteria we mean representatives from the Girl Scouts, Women’s Business Owner’s Network and private therapists, as well as a few parents for good measure.
Presumably they thought kids would take the directions on the Primo's topsheet literally and masssacre their own fingers off and then bleed out from the increased penile blood flow when they caught side of a Playboy model's side boob on the Love which, we are told, you definitely couldn't see on the internet back in 2008.
Sims - Fader 2003/04
The grandaddy to the Burton Love, Sims' Fader series got spiced up for 2004 thanks to a contract with Vivid Entertainment, wholesome family entertainment providers, or so we're told...
Even with topsheet graphics featuring the likes of Jenna Jameson, our 'internet outrage' mode hasn't been engaged witnessing these, we must be numb from hours of late night surfing, or maybe that's just the Onboard senior editor.
Smokin' - Buck Ferton
That's right Burton! Screw you and your sustainable business model! And while we're at it, hows about some of that for getting kids into snowboarding early! Yeah, how do you like them apples? Taste anything like campaigning for snowboarders to be allowed at ski resorts?
DC - Somebuddy
Yeah! Fuck you again Burton, how dare you promote roots snowboarding by hooking up shop kids and not even putting out a press release about it? DC have been doing that for years, they're just so much more core they didn't tell anyone at all, ha ha ha!
Oh shit! Guys, I think it happened again...
Lobster - Jib Baord STD 2011/12
The Helgasons are about as close as snowboarding has to bonafide hellraisers these days, so when they launched Lobster Snowboards in 2011 it wasn't that much of a surprise when they announced the first pair of the now infamous 'special edition' graphics, with their jib board prominently displaying a rabid, toothy vagina tearing the fingers from its host's hands.
Like this graphic? watch the 2007 film Teeth.
Bataleon - Camel Toe 2013
When 30 special edition graphic versions of Bataleon's cheap and cheerful pow slayer were release, literally tens of people were offended by some ill-fitting pants.
Horrified by that? Go check out this skate graphic featuring Disney starts taking drugs and conducting an orgy. Not so bad now eh?
CAPiTA - Stairmaster 2008/09
Featuring the artist's former girlfriend bouncing cheerfully around their bed during happier times, one interpretation of this graphic is a critique of the rise of revenge porn and the downfall of privacy in the internet age.
Another is some snaps of a girl dancing around in her pants, but we'll give CAPiTA the benefit of the doubt and go with the former.
Reprobate - CREEP Series 2014/15
Leave it to a wee British brand to actually be offensive! Following in the fine traditions of UK skate graphics that trivialise drug dependency, Luke Pompa's scribblings for his own brand Reprobate, depicting fictional cereal junkies managed to provoke some actual internet outrage, yay!