Beastie ‘Blox

I’m not generally up on the pop culture noise, but the GoldieBlox controversy over the last couple of weeks has piqued my curiosity.  And, for the record, I am not on board with the idea that all publicity is good publicity.

GoldieBox product from their site

GoldieBlox is a toy company trying to counter the limited range of possibilities easily available to young girls.  In a recent ad, girls sing a rewritten version of the Beastie Boys‘ song “Girls.”

Admittedly, the Beastie Boys’ song can be considered offensive.  It’s all about what girls are good for, like cooking, cleaning, and pleasuring boys.  I’ve never gotten too worked up about this song because the Beastie Boys started off as pretty much a joke.  I don’t believe much of their music is to be taken all that seriously, especially off their debut album, Licensed to Ill.  By the time MCA died, they were a pretty socially conscious group.

From the Beastie Boys’ facebook page.

It’s a “pick your battles” kind of stance, and by my accounting, this one isn’t worth it.

When I first saw that GoldieBlox commercial, I loved it.  Sure, the toys may not be perfect, but I don’t think every single product marketed to the consumer has to be the all-encompassing solution to everything.  I’m a believer in incrementalism.

I defended it to people who wanted to belittle the effort and the message.

Then I found out they never got permission to use the Beastie Boys’ song.

Ick.

GoldieBlox filed a preemptive lawsuit seeking legal protection under the Fair Use Doctrine. From the suit:

This is a civil action for declaratory and injunctive relief to vindicate the rights of toy company GoldieBlox in connection with a parody video set to the tune of the Beastie Boys’highly sexist song “Girls.”

My radar is up.  Why the “highly sexist” language?  And here’s something else that bothers me.  Apparently GoldieBlox was contacted by lawyers for the Beastie Boys. This story was spun as some sort of David and Goliath thing, that the big bad boy Beastie Boys were bullying the poor little girl company.

More Red Riding Hood than Goldilocks, but still…

Not only is that victim stance entirely unhelpful, it also isn’t true.  As the two surviving members of the Beastie Boys’ responded:

We strongly support empowering young girls, breaking down gender stereotypes and igniting a passion for technology and engineering.

As creative as it is, make no mistake, your video is an advertisement that is designed to sell a product, and long ago, we made a conscious decision not to permit our music and/or name to be used in product ads.

When we tried to simply ask how and why our song “Girls” had been used in your ad without our permission, YOU sued US.

HANG ON.  Upon further investigation, it turns out MCA specifically prohibited the use of his music in advertisements.  IN HIS WILL.

So this isn’t really about feminism or the big bad wolf or sexist music, is it?  It’s about a company’s bad decision.  The big girl thing to do would be to own up, apologize, remove the song, and move on, right?  Much like lululemon, they took the non-apology apology route, doubling down on victimhood.  This statement is childlike, and not in a good way.

Screenshot. Click for blog post.
Screenshot. Click for blog post.

Since GoldieBlox made this personal, I’ll do the same.

Your opening.

Dear Adam and Mike,

We don’t want to fight with you. We love you and we are actually huge fans.

WTF?  I couple of days ago you called their music “highly sexist” and now you love them.  Which is it, folks?

In the meat of your answer.

Our hearts sank last week when your lawyers called us with threats that we took very seriously. As a small company, we had no choice but to stand up for ourselves. We did so sincerely hoping we could come to a peaceful settlement with you.

We want you to know that when we posted the video, we were completely unaware that the late, great Adam Yauch had requested in his will that the Beastie Boys songs never be used in advertising.

Hang on.  You filed a lawsuit in hopes of reaching a peaceful settlement.  Right.

And you didn’t know that Adam Yauch (MCA) prohibited the use of his music in ads.  Ok, so you didn’t do your homework.  Now would be the time to apologize and not throw on the cloak of martyrdom.

Instead:

Since actions speak louder than words, we have already removed the song from our video. In addition, we are ready to stop the lawsuit as long as this means we will no longer be under threat from your legal team.

And the closing. 

We don’t want to spend our time fighting legal battles. We want to inspire the next generation. We want to be good role models. And we want to be your friends.

WTF times 6,000? 

You could inspire the next generation by acting like grownups, teaching them how to deal with mistakes. That’s what the best role models do.

I’m a person who would have been likely to buy one or two of your toys, but now I won’t.  Ever.

You stole an artist’s work for your own enrichment.  In the how of your what, you’ve given feminism a bad name.

2 thoughts on “Beastie ‘Blox”

  1. Aw man COME ON NOW. When Adam Yauch died it was COMMON KNOWLEDGE that the Beastie Boys didn’t want any, and I do mean ANY, company using their music in ANY ad EVER. That was all over the web. This is just another case of an art thief not giving a damn about anybody but themselves all in the quest of making a quick buck. Now they want to play the victim role instead of apologizing…………

    …………sigh……………..

    I noticed this year was not only racism rearing its ugly head x10 but also the year of accountability: Paula Dean not being accountable for being a bigot and giving a half-assed apology and playing the victim instead, Rick Ross giving a half-assed apology for that suspect line in that Rocko song “U.O.E.N.O” (“slipped molly in her drink and she don een kno it/took her back to my pad and enjoyed that, and she don’ een kno it”) and instead tried to play Mr. Cool Tough Guy and lost his Reebok endorsement, and of course everybody’s favorite hip-hop gremlin Lil’ Wayne not apologizing to the Emmett Till family for that EXTREMELY disrespectful line in that garbage-ass Future remix “Karate Chop” (“beat up the pussy like Emmett Till”) and lost his endorsement with Mountain Dew when they cancelled that tour earlier this year. I’m not shocked at any of this behavior, I’ve been around long enough to see dumb-ass people refusing to apologize when they’re wrong and instead pull some b.s. like this, some sorry-ass immature borderline sociopathic shit. You really got to watch what you say these days because people get offended by the DUMBEST shit. J.Cole found that out and apologized instantly when someone griped about a line he spat in a Drake song “my rhymes are artistic while yours are retarded–#autistic”. While I’ll most certainly agree that the 3 aforementioned examples deserved some backlash and reprimanding this one was just nitpicking by some crybaby looking for a reason to complain. This is why I don’t like those e-petition websites, they’re DANGEROUS. Any internet loser with a wi-fi connection and a grudge will go on these sites and bitch to no end just because they don’t like something and will find a legion of other internet losers just like them to join in on their crusade of making other people’s lives miserable, people who HAVE a life, who HAVE something productive going on, who ARE making a difference in their lives and others, which is what these ho’ cake-hearted mofos need to do–LOG OFF THE WEB AND GET A REAL LIFE AND HOBBY.

    End rant.

    p.s. no disrespect but fuck those trifling stupid bitches. They should know better, instead they’re trying to play the poor defenseless woman being picked on by corporate bullies. I can’t stand these fuckin’ fake-ass feminists, or as my brothers and I call them “practical feministst”, you know who they are: the type who complain about how men play women and use them since forever and turn around to do the same to them, the type who claim to be independent but want a man to pay their bills bills bills, the type who talk shit about men objectifying women at strip clubs but are the most SUPERFICIAL and sexist people around, and BWOY are there a ton of these scallywags running the streets. These women–excuse me, GIRLS, since that’s how they refer to themselves–I avoid at all costs.

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