Beastie Boys embroiled in fight over parody ad utilizing ‘Girls’

The Beastie Boys today clarified their stance in their dispute with Bay Area toy-maker GoldieBlox, a company that’s used the act’s 1986 party-goof “Girls” in an advertisement for its engineering-minded toys.

The surviving members of the Beastie Boys are all for female empowerment, a statement from the group says, but have no interest in selling a product, regardless of how creative it might be.

GoldieBlox last week scored a viral hit with its parody commercial that featured a new take on the Beastie Boys’ “Girls,” replacing the gender stereotyping lyrics of the original with new lyrics that call for girls to build apps and spaceships. The lyrics of the GoldieBlox parody also feature the company’s staunch anti-pink toy messaging.


The commercial centers on a Rube Goldberg-like contraption in which GoldieBlox building toys one by one destroy the more cliched products often targeted to women -- a heart pillow, a pink tea set, etc. GoldieBlox was founded upon a socially aware message, noting in its branding that men still outnumber women in fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

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Today’s statement from surviving Beastie Boys Mike D and Ad-Rock applauds the company’s mission while making it clear that the group does not license its music for advertisements.

“We strongly support empowering young girls, breaking down gender stereotypes and igniting a passion for technology and engineering,” the statement reads. “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.”

The Beastie Boys contacted GoldieBlox last week, to which the company responded with a preemptive court filing arguing that its use of “Girls’ was protected due to it being satire. A spokeswoman for GoldiebBox declined to comment but referred press to the company’s court papers, which are online.

According to the filing, the Beastie Boys’ original limits girls to “household chores”; also according to the court papers, women in the song “are presented as useful only to the extent they fulfill the wishes of the male subjects.” In claiming its use of “Girls” is a legal one, GoldieBlox argues that its video had gone “viral on the Internet, and has been recognized by the press and the public as a parody and criticism of the original song.”

“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,” according to the court papers. “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 Beastie Boys have long poked fun at themselves and even disavowed their early lyrics as band members became more politically active.

“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,” the Beastie Boys’ statement reads.

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


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