Hey, Beastie Boys … you need to let this go. FOR SCIENCE.
UPDATE 11/25/2013: The Beastie Boys have responded with an open letter stating they support what GoldieBlox is trying to do, but they still wish to uphold their long-standing wish not to have their music used in ads. In their court filing (see below), GoldieBlox stated that copyright infringement had been alleged by the Beastie Boys. That remains unclear right now. Of course, if the GoldieBlox version is declared a fair use parody, the Boys’ wishes seem to be kind of moot.
Next up on the docket is Beastie Boys v. GoldieBlox, Inc. in the 4th Circuit Court for “Unnecessary Applications of Copyright Law”
You know that amazing ad for GoldieBlox engineering toys? The one that features three young girls busting up our pretty pink princess toy culture using one of the greatest Rube Goldberg setups ever devised? The one that has a chance to be played during the Super Bowl, so that people everywhere can see the value of promoting STEM education in young girls’ lives?
Well, the Beastie Boys don’t like it. GoldieBlox produced a parody version of the Beastie Boys’ hit song “Girls” for that ad, and, according to court documents, the Boys of Beasthood are going after them for copyright infringement (although an unnamed source in this HuffPo article states that the BBs have made no such claim).
GoldieBlox is claiming “fair use” in a preemptive court claim (or whatever it’s called, I’m a scientist, not a lawyer), which I actually think the toy-maker has a pretty good case for, but I’m not going to bore you with legal mumbo-jumbo. This is made especially ironic by the fact that the original Beastie Boys song has, shall we say, a decidedly less than flattering view of women To be fair, some interpretations of the Boys’ original view it as a satire itself, but that’s not the easiest read of their lyrics.
Inside the GoldieBlox court filing, I found this sick burn directed at the Beastie Boys’ original lyrics compared to the inspiring GoldieBlox version:
In the lyrics of the Beastie Boys’ original song, girls are limited (at best) to household chores, and are presented as useful only to the extent they fulfill the wishes of the male singers. The girls are objects. The GoldieBlox Girls Parody Video takes direct aim at the song both visually and with a revised set of lyrics celebrating the many capabilities of girls. Set to the tune of Girls by the Beastie Boys but with a new recording of the music and new lyrics, girls are heard singing an anthem celebrating their broad set of capabilities—exactly the opposite of the message of the original. GoldieBlox Girls are the subjects; they are the actors taking charge of their environment.
It gets better! Look at this chart comparing the lyrics of the original to the lyrics of the parody cover, it’s too good:
It should definitely be noted that the Beastie Boys made a very admirable pro-feminism turnaround after their early years, and “Girls” certainly doesn’t represent their body of work. But the original lyrics are what they are.
The Beastie Boys and Def Jam records just need to do the right thing here and let it goooooooooo (preferably slow and low).
I love the Beastie Boys, and they have done a lot of good for the world since their rambunctiously youthful days. Do the right thing. Fight for young girls’ right to party … with toys that empower STEM education.