Boys vs Girls

In 2013, the educational toy company GoldieBlox launched a new ad campaign to promote an interest of engineering in young girls. The commercial featured three young girls disillusioned by a bunch of prancing beauty queens in the commercial they’re watching. So they use an assorted collection of toys and household items to assemble a huge Rube Goldberg machine. The best part of the commercial however is that it was set to an “edited” version of the 1980’s hit Beastie Boys song, “Girls.”

The original song is as follows:

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
With New Wave hairdos I want girls
I ought to whip out my girls, girls, girls, girls, girls!

GoldieBlox put a twist on the song however, subverting the original lyrics to trash the very same gender stereotypes the Beasties celebrated.

Here is the GoldieBlox revision of the Beasties’ lyrics:

Girls, you think you know what we want
Girls, pink and pretty it’s girls
Just like the ‘50s it’s girls

You like to buy us pink toys
And everything else is for boys
And you can always get us dolls
And we’ll grow up like them, false

It’s time to change
We deserve to see a range
Cause all our toys look just the same
And we would like to use our brains

And we are all more than princess maids

Girls, to build a spaceship
Girls, to code a new app
To grow up knowing
That they can engineer that

Girls, that’s all we really need is girls
To bring us up to speed, it’s girls
Our opportunity is girls
Don’t underestimate girls

Cute, right? Nope. – Not according to the Beastie Boys, (who—by the way—made a career out of repurposing others’ music for their own songs through sampling). Instead the band filed a lawsuit against the toy company claiming copyright infringement and were quickly met with a counter lawsuit arguing that the commercial was intended as a parody and was thus protected under free trade use.

The toy company however was unaware of late band member Adam Yauch’s will which stated that “in no event may my image or name or any music or any artistic property created by me be used for advertising purposes.”

Ultimately the lawsuits were settled with a public apology from GoldieBlox to the Beastie Boys, the now viral video being pulled, and in a funny twist, a payment by GoldieBlox, based on a percentage of its revenues, to one or more charities selected by Beastie Boys that support science, technology, engineering and mathematics education for girls.

A. Santos

One thought on “Boys vs Girls

  1. For me, this lawsuit is so hard to form an opinion about. As an avid fan of the Beastie Boys, I completely respect Adam Yauch’s wishes to have his music untainted by advertisements. At the same time, I am all for the message of the commercial. That being said, I’m content with the fact that the two opposing parties were able to come together and figure something out that would be positive for both parties.

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