California toymaker GoldieBlox has taken preemptive legal action to protect its now-viral parody of the Beastie Boys song "Girls" after the hip-hop group spoke out about it last week.
GoldieBlox, a startup that features a line of interactive books and toys meant to get little girls interested in engineering, released a commercial last week that poked fun at all the conventional stereotypes of girls
. The ad was set to the tune of the 1987 Beastie Boys hit song, but changed the controversial lyrics ("Girls to do the dishes/Girls to clean up my room") to more empowering ones ("Girls who build a spaceship/Girls that build a new app/Girls who grow up knowing that they can engineer that").
According to the Los Angeles Times, the Beastie Boys contacted GoldieBlox last week
asking why they used the song without permission. GoldieBlox then responded with the lawsuit, which argues that the commercial is protected because it's considered satire.
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"Set to the tune of 'Girls' 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," the toy company says in court documents. "They are also shown engaging in activities far beyond what the Beastie Boys song would permit. GoldieBlox created its parody video specifically to comment on the Beastie Boys song, and to further the company’s goal to break down gender stereotypes… [The song] has been recognized by the press and the public as a parody and criticism of the original song."
The surviving members of the Beastie Boys, Mike D and Ad-Rock, then responded in a statement directed at GoldieBlox:
"We strongly support empowering young girls, breaking down gender stereotypes, and igniting a passion for technology and engineering," they said. "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.
"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. When we tried to simply ask how and why our song 'Girls' had been used in your ad without our permission… YOU sued US."
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