You’ve probably seen the Goldieblox commercial, but if you haven’t, you should. Young girls cavort as a pink-themed Rube Goldberg contraption progresses in and around a home. The original received over 8 MILLION views in a short timespan. The video's message is clear and truly liberating. Any parent who wants more for his or her daughter than to merely be someone’s dutiful wife couldn’t help but watch the video and think, “Hell yes” and “About damn time.”
When I first heard the Beastie Boys were suing about the commercial’s use of their cleverly-rewritten song, I was annoyed. They’ve done mighty well in the world, so why be all douchey by getting in the way of a viral Grrl Power sensation, right?
But things are more complicated than that, and the Beastie Boys didn't sue; they got "preemptively sued" by Goldiblox.
First, the Beasties have never permitted their music to be used for commercial marketing, which is rare and downright noble in this day and age. Keeping that promise was in Adam Yauch’s will, according to The Guardian:
Following the death of Adam Yauch in 2012, the Beastie Boys revealed that Yauch's will instructed his estate to prohibit the use of the group's music in advertisements. "Notwithstanding anything to the contrary, in no event may my image or name or any music or any artistic property created by me be used for advertising purposes," the MC wrote. The surviving members of the group subsequently sued Monster Energy Drink for using several of their songs without permission.Not only are the Beasties fighting on principle, but they're also defending a dead friend and creative partner’s wishes.
And Goldieblox is no charity. It’s a business, albeit one with seemingly equal noble goals and motivations of making our STEM world more appealing to the female sex. At present, this is a real problem with real negative consequences for girls, particularly when it comes to job and salary inequality. But Goldieblox is still in it to make an almighty dollar, and they’ve done it by cleverly reworking a song straight from the modern parent’s sweet spot of musical memory, the ‘80s.
In an interesting twist, Goldieblox has since made their YouTube video “private.” While they originally came out “preemptively” swinging on the litigious front by suing the Beasties before the Beasties even lawyered up, the fact their video has been pulled suggests a couple of possibilities:
- Their video, a finalist in the competition of independent businesses vying for a spot in the Super Bowl, was pulled as part of an agreement because they won, or
- Godlieblox’s defense of the song as “parody” suddenly got thin because advertisements (things made expressly for the purpose of profiteering) aren't as free to use the "free use of parody" defense, and also because Goldieblox was name-dropping the Beastie Boys left and right in a way that implied some kind of permission or consent, which they most decidedly never requested nor received.
Surely empowering Girls Can Love STEM videos isn’t a one-trick pony. My generation of parents are starving to see more, so feed us more, and we'll eat 'em up. And in the meantime, MCA can rest in peace.