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Nov 22 2013

GoldieBlox commercial wins the internet over

This commercial’s taking the internet by storm, because who doesn’t love Beastie Boys, girl engineers, and Rube Goldberg devices.

Some time ago, I wrote about the kickstarter for this project, and how I could live with the pinkification it took to sell these engineering projects for girls to parents already steeped in rigid gender roles. Looking at this commercial, though I love the commercial itself, I sort of feel like it’s overselling the product.

See, the actual product introduces a specific goal and a narrative in the form of a story book, drastically limiting the engineering potential of any one set. There’s only so much you can do with the ribbon and sticks and crank, so letting your imagination run wild doesn’t seem really, truly all that possible.

As a gateway into the wider world of toys, though, if GoldieBlox leads any girl to ask her parents for LEGO or K’Nex or some other engineering toy, I feel like it’s worth it — even if it requires not only retraining girls that it’s okay to like “doing things” instead of “being pretty”, but also getting in under parents’ gender policing radars.

And everyone loves a Rube Goldberg device. Hopefully inventive girls with enough toys can invent all sorts of crazy devices, if unfettered by the prescribed play mode.

12 comments

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  1. 1
    Sassafras

    because who doesn’t love Beastie Boys

    Me, if they don’t drop their lawsuit over this commercial.

  2. 2
    F [is for failure to emerge]

    Oh, the remaining Beastie Boys are taking this route? Whatevs, doooods.

    Oh, of course TechDirt has already written this up. Why did I even wonder?
    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20131122/17002425340/missed-opportunity-beastie-boys-should-have-supported-viral-parody-girls-song-rather-than-claiming-infringement.shtml

  3. 3
    Athena Andreadis

    Have you actually read the GoldieBlox Kickstarter & other content? They are as bluntly gender-essentialist as evopsycho 101. “Boys have strong spatial skills, which is why they love construction toys so much. Girls, on the other hand, have superior verbal skills. They love reading, stories, and characters.” and “The set features soft textures, curved edges and attractive colors which are all innately appealing to girls.” More here: Bridge Struts in Pink Pantalets

  4. 4
    Jason Thibeault

    Yes, I have, and I and other commenters on that previous post mentioned how problematic that all is. I strongly dislike the idea that girls “need” a narrative, or pink, or soft edges, and am hoping all of that helps get it past the parental gender-policing radar, as I’d stated in the original post.

  5. 5
    Jason Thibeault

    Re Beastie Boys: wow. Way to footgun. First time you guys have been relevant in forever and you decide to take an obvious case of fair use and freak the fuck out. Bravo.

  6. 6
    Gregory in Seattle

    And yet, the toy comes in a bright pink box, and the toy itself is largely pink. Yeah, whatever.

  7. 7
    pHred

    My daughter absolutely loved the video (everyone and my mother has been forwarding it to me) but when we looked at the toy – ICK! You have got to be kidding. So my daughter (6) does want building toys for the holidays but I strongly suspect she is having visions of Goldberging the house – she sure doesn’t want that toy, though the tool belt met with approval.

  8. 8
    demonhauntedworld

    This story says that the Beastie Boys didn’t sue Goldieblox; Goldieblox sued the Beastie Boys:
    http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/beastie-boys-goldieblox-fight-over-girls-it-copyright-infringement-or-fair-use-154089

  9. 9
    Sassafras

    Gregory in Seattle @ 6 -

    And yet, the toy comes in a bright pink box, and the toy itself is largely pink. Yeah, whatever.

    You might want to look more carefully. Only one of the GoldieBlox sets has a single pink construction part (the belt ribbon that turns the gears). The rest of the toy is blue, yellow, and lavender, and the box is not bright pink, but red and gold with a single pink stripe in the background. The other set has no pink construction parts and one pink animal figurine and the box is gold, dark purple, and lavender.

  10. 10
    Rocketmagnet

    I can’t believe people are so into Goldieblox. It’s a totally sexist toy. The range of things you can make with it is humiliatingly limited. If I was a girl, and I got this for Christmas, I would be seriously thinking about adoption right now if I wasn’t just playing happily with my Lego which is *so* much better and available in a whole rainbow of colours.

    And then, to help sell this crap, they have the nerve to use someone’s music, who specifically asked that their music not be used to sell products.

    And *then* they show how totally evil they are by suing those musicians for it!

  11. 11
    Sassafras

    GoldieBlox didn’t sue the Beastie Boys in the way that’s being insinuated. From TechDirt:

    GoldieBlox filed for declaratory judgment, which is a fairly standard move after someone claims that you violated their rights. It’s not a lawsuit seeking money — just to declare that the use is fair use. While the Beastie Boys say they made no threat or demand, the lawsuit notes that their letter (which still has not been revealed in full) made a direct claim that the video was copyright infringement, and also that this was a “big problem” that has a “very significant impact.”

  12. 12
    woodster

    Adam Yauch’s final “Will and Testament” is extremely clear, “No Beastie Boys music will be used for commercial purposes. What’s so wrong about honoring the wishes of their dead friend and the writer of the song.

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