Music Business

Why The Beastie Boys Should Support Rather Than Shut Down The “Girls” Ad

Goldieblox-660x370If you've seen the "Princess Machine" video from toy company GoldieBlox (embedded below), you'll probably agree with me that it goes beyond fair use of the song "Girls" given the opening music and the overall construction. The court will decide but this seems like a clear case where licensing should have been sought and, on that level, The Beastie Boys are correct in challenging a for-profit enterprise's use of the music. However, I believe The Beastie Boys should work something out and keep the video available to the public because they long ago disavowed the sexual/gender politics of their early music, even asking Prodigy not to play "Smack My Bitch Up" at the Reading Festival. If they're serious, the surviving members of the group should tell the lawyers to back the fuck up because this is the kind of video/ad real girls need to see.

GoldieBlox is a toy company working to give girls alternatives to the soul-numbing bullshit and pink cages our society subjects them to in a socialization process that the truly conscious spend the rest of their lives attempting to unravel. Women and men feel the effects of such programming and, in a capitalist society, a business like GoldieBlox can help move things forward at a time when public dialogue about gender issues is stunted and generally seems to be repeating or attacking the advances of the late 20th Century over and over again.

GoldieBlox, Rube Goldberg, & Beastie Boys "Princess Machine"
(a concert for little girls)

The Beastie Boys song "Girls" was perfect for their early act. Juvenile, stupid, dismissive of young women except as sexual objects and house cleaners.

Eventually they disavowed much of their assholery, especially the late great Adam Yauch, and even went so far as to venture into a bit of censorship by asking Prodigy not to play "Smack My Bitch Up" at the 1998 Reading Festival.

If you consider what GoldieBlox is addressing, you can see they're actually attempting to create the conditions for young women to see alternatives to the bullshit propaganda that they can't get into tech because science and math is for boys.

This is particularly important as more and more power shifts to the tech sector which, demographically speaking, looks like IBM in the fucking 50s except skewed a bit younger and not wearing ties.

So, yeah, I understand why this is going to court but I think it's awesome that Goldie Blox filed a preemptive legal request because this message needs to get out there and the longer it stays up, the more little girls will see it.

I seriously hope the remaining members of The Beastie Boys will recognize the power of what GoldieBlox is doing and find a way to come to an agreement that allows the message to spread.

I'm tempted to close by invoking the spirit of Adam Yauch but that seems a bit cheap.

Besides, supporting this message is the right thing to do and The Beastie Boys simply need to man the fuck up and make it happen.

Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (Twitter/Facebook) is building a writing hub at Flux Research. To suggest topics about music tech, DIY music biz or music marketing for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

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  1. What is wrong with asking permission first?
    Would you use someone else’s car without asking, just because the opportunity presented itself?

  2. if this were toyota using an amanda palmer track without permission – regardless of whether it was for their new car that runs on rainbows, feeds kittens, and negotiates world peace – you’d be screaming bloody unholy murder about usage and artist compensation.
    high horse is high.

  3. “The Beastie Boys are correct in challenging a for-profit enterprise’s use of the music.”
    This is the only correct line in this entire blurb.

  4. Sure, the original video came with the gloss of cool / underground / viral – the Rube Goldberg setup, the “message reimagining” of an out-of-date, puerile song, and of course the “girl empowerment” message. All of which is fine, BUT THIS IS REALLY AN AD. If the band has a firm NO AD PLACEMENTS policy – made by the guy on his deathbed for chrissakes – you can’t just say “yeah but this one is so cool!”

  5. That points to one of the biggest reasons positive social change remains more a dream than a reality.
    Left/libs and others interested in changing things tend to take purist positions that ultimately undermine their effectiveness.
    I know this won’t win me any friends but I don’t believe that the needs of the living for true social improvement should be outweighed by the wishes of the dead.
    But it certainly gives many a way to pat themselves on the back while giving themselves a pass for maintaining the status quo.

  6. There are a lot of charitys in this world which align with my mission. But I get to decide! I decide who gets my money or my time. I have a budget for such things. And this is a for-profit company that should know better.
    This is a clear case of better to ask forgiveness than permission. Now they have forced the Beastie Boys to look like A-holes or give away their song. How is that right? I call that corporate blackmail.

  7. You know I feel like those have been my same words in so many other arguments so I totally respect what you are saying as a diehard progressive. There’s just some wall I have from working on music all my life that makes this feel like a greater atrocity to me. But if I removed some of my subjectivity I would probably agree.

  8. I understand that.
    Hopefully they’ll save their brand by doing something to make up for the damage done by songs such as Girls which is a creative but negative attack on women.

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