The Beastie Boys shared an open letter directed at toymaker GoldieBlox with The New York Times this morning, addressing the company’s use of the rappers’ song “Girls” in a viral video ad. Last week, the toy company had filed a lawsuit claiming that its use of the song in the video, which features a reworking of the Beastie’s 1986 track with rewritten lyrics that play off the original version’s sexism, constituted fair use. Where the original went, “Girls – to do the dishes/ Girls – to clean up my room/ Girls – to do the laundry/ Girls – and in the bathroom,” the ad’s went, “Girls build a spaceship/ Girls code the new app/ Girls that grow up knowing/ That they can engineer that.” GoldieBlox claimed that it made the “parody video with specific goals to make fun of the Beastie Boys song, and to further the company’s goal to break down gender stereotypes.” The rappers, however, boiled usage of the song down to “an advertisement that is designed to sell a product.”
In their letter, the Beastie Boys said they were “impressed by the creativity and the message” of the video. Moreover they voiced support of tone of the ads, saying, “We strongly support empowering young girls, breaking down gender stereotypes and igniting a passion for technology and engineering.”
Despite their support of the company’s mission, the Beastie Boys said that usage of the song goes against their own. “Make no mistake, your video is an advertisement that is designed to sell a product,” they said, “and long ago, we made a conscious decision not to permit our music and/or name to be used in product ads. When we tried to simply ask how and why our song ‘Girls’ had been used in your ad without our permission, you sued us.”
The toymakers have yet to comment on the Beastie Boys’ letter. The ad has now gotten over eight million views.