A few weeks ago, LSA senior Kelsey Gall was procrastinating doing schoolwork by typing random subjects into Google image search.
Gall, a member of the Stonewall Democrats who helped circulate a petition against a new State Street restaurant Quickie Burger, let her concerns color her inquiries.
One search – “cartoon burger” – was spurred by her disdain for Quickie Burger’s logo that depicts a busty blonde straddling a burger.
Gall didn’t expect to find that logo in her search results. And she didn’t. She just found an image that looked suspiciously similar.
In June 2004, the cover of a Canadian magazine called Vue Weekly featured an image of a busty redhead straddling a burger. From the flame-shaped hair to the spilling beer mug, the resemblance is remarkable.
“It was a completely random search,” she said. “I never expected to find anything.”
Whether or not the Quickie Burger logo is offensive is subjective, but what about whether it’s plagiarism?
After discovering the original image, Gall’s first thought was to contact the artist who drew it. If a petition wouldn’t convince Quickie Burger to change their logo, maybe the threat of a copyright lawsuit would.
But the artist, Stephen Notley, wasn’t interested in taking legal action.
“It’s clearly a redrawing of my image – but a little worse,” Notley said. “I’m more just flattered that someone would rip off my image than angry.”
Also, he said, it’s unclear how the claim would hold up in court since Quickie Burger’s logo is at most a redrawing, and the likeness of Notley’s image isn’t trademarked. While Disney can demand that daycare centers paint over wall murals picturing big-eared mice in oversized gloves, it seems babes riding burgers are fair game.
Kerope Arman, who owns Quickie Burger, said the similarities between the images are just a coincidence.
“That’s not similar at all, the way I see it,” he said. “Maybe it is. I don’t know.”
Arman said the Quickie Burger logo was developed over the past year or more through the collaboration of ideas of the owners’ friends and family, as well as strangers shown the image to gauge public reaction.
He described the thought process behind the logo this way: “Usually, in a typical bar setting there is bull riding. we did a burger because it’s indicative of the business we’re in.”
Arman said he hadn’t seen the image before, but wouldn’t say who drew the original draft of the logo and whether he or she could have seen the magazine cover.
“We drew it. We did,” he said. “I’ve never seen it before.”
Perhaps after being put on edge by the Stonewall Democrat’s petition, Arman was quick to return to the question of the logo’s offensiveness.
“I know it doesn’t offend anybody because when your mother walks by and she looks up, she’s not offended,” said Arman, who does not know this writer’s mother. “My wife’s not offended. My mother’s not offended. No one’s offended.”
Ron Garth, editor of Vue Weekly, likewise wanted to stress the appropriateness of the image that ran on the magazine’s cover.
“You know, we’re alternative press,” he said. “If it gets attention, it gets attention.”
An image of the cover, which teased a “Hot Summer Guide” to Edmonton, Canada, can be found in Vue Weekly’s online archives next to a column in the issue about gay interests in politics – which Garth said made the Stonewall Democrat’s concerns ironic.
“It’s actually counter to their argument because it’s juxtaposed to this gay-friendly rant by a columnist on our website,” he said.
Although, Garth said the magazine’s editors aren’t able to control which article from an issue gets displayed with the cover in the website’s archives.
But Gall said the context of the Vue Weekly image makes it less offensive than the Quickie Burger logo.
“I personally believe the different contexts change the offensiveness of the logo,” she said.
What’s the difference? Here’s a conjecture:
While the magazine cover presents riding a giant burger as a fun summer activity, the Quickie Burger logo, juxtaposed with the restaurant’s motto “Come in for a quickie,” compares women to fast food – cheap, fast and brainless.
But whatever the interpretation, it stands that offensiveness is a subjective and personal affair.
Just as Notley found when he was offended after reading The Michigan Daily’s article about the opposition to his image’s doppleganger.
“I was like, ‘Well, that’s what you think, buddy,’ ” he said.Michigan Daily’s article about the opposition to his image’s doppleganger.
“I was like, ‘Well, that’s what you think, buddy,’ ” he said.