In a complicated tale of boys versus girls, it looks like a truce may be on the horizon.
It all started when Silicon Valley startup GoldieBlox, a toy company engaged in “building games for girls to inspire future engineers,” released a music video advertisement for their Rube Goldberg-styled junior engineer construction sets. The ad featured a parodied version of the Beastie Boys 1987 single “Girls,” a sophomoric paean to female domesticity.
GoldieBlox rewrote the song to present a more empowering message to young females, replacing original lyrics, “Girls to do the dishes/ Girls to clean up my room/ Girls to do the laundry / Girls and in the bathroom” with a message more fitting to the company’s goals: ”Girls to build a spaceship / Girls to code the new app / Girls to grow up knowing / That they can engineer that.”
It was a hit. The YouTube view count quickly reached the multi-millions, at which point the Beastie Boys reached out to GoldieBlox asking them to remove the song due to late Beastie Boys’ member Adam Yauch’s dying wish to prohibit his music and “artistic property” for advertising purposes. To protect the company from a possible copyright infringement lawsuit, GoldieBlox filed their own defensive lawsuit seeking “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.’”
The confrontation quickly picked up steam with a response from the surviving Beastie Boys, Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz and Michael “Mike D” Diamond, expressing their admiration for the video, while maintaining that “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. “
GoldieBlox issued the following open letter in response on Wednesday morning:
Dear Adam and Mike,
We don’t want to fight with you. We love you and we are actually huge fans.
When we made our parody version of your song, ‘Girls’, we did it with the best of intentions. We wanted to take a song we weren’t too proud of, and transform it into a powerful anthem for girls. Over the past week, parents have sent us pictures and videos of their kids singing the new lyrics with pride, building their own Rube Goldberg machines in their living rooms and declaring an interest in engineering. It’s been incredible to watch.
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. Although we believe our parody video falls under fair use, we would like to respect his wishes and yours.
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.
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.
Debbie + Team GoldieBlox
GoldieBlox has released a new version of the ad that no longer features the parodied lyrics or music.