In case you missed it last week, the phenomenal company GoldieBlox debuted their first official commercial. It went a little something like this:
That music, of course, is a parody of the Beastie Boys song “Girls” and the surviving members of the group, Mike D and Ad-Rock, are fighting the company over their usage of the song.
My sympathies, immediately, ally with GoldieBlox, a bootstrap company we’ve been following on this site since they were a mere glimmer in Kickstarter’s eye. Their concept and their presentation has been flawless since the beginning and personally I feel like they deserve all the support they can get. The Beastie Boys may or may not have the letter of the law on their side, but let’s remember the original lyrics of “Girls” that GoldieBlox changed for this commercial. Here we go:
Girls, to do the dishes
Girls, to clean up my room
Girls, to do the laundry
Girls, and in the bathroom
Girls, that’s all I really want is girls
Two at a time, I want girls
Charming, right? The song is catchy as hell and I’ve been known to bounce/sing along to it in the car myself, but those lyrics are not exactly worthy of the men the Beastie Boys have become. In fact, the boys themselves have apologized for and distanced themselves for these and other offensive lyrics of their youth. So why are they going to court here? Well that’s where things get murky morality-wise. The third member of the Beastie Boys who passed away in 2012, Adam Yauch, left instructions in his will that his music not be used in advertisements. And it’s hard to argue with a man’s final wishes. But, despite how morally valid (or legal) that claim may be, this still looks like the Beastie Boys vs. The Cool Progressive Girls Toy Company. No matter what the outcome, I think we all know who the real loser is here.
To cleanse your palate, I’ll leave you with one of Yauch’s more uplifting lyrics he wrote seven years after “Girls.” From “Sure Shot”:
I want to say a little something that’s long overdue / The disrespect to women has to got to be through / To all the mothers and sisters and the wives and friends / I want to offer my love and respect till the end
UPDATE: The Beastie Boys released this letter in response:
Like many of the millions of people who have seen your toy commercial “GoldieBlox, Rube Goldberg & the Beastie Boys,” we were very impressed by the creativity and the message behind your ad. 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.