We mentioned several months ago that Mattel lost yet again in court trying to stifle Barbie-art.
- Mattel isn’t a big fan of free speech– at least not when it applies to their products. So when Utah artist Tom Forsythe took this photograph of Barbie in a blender as part of a series of critical fine-art Barbie photos, Mattel got pissed. So what did they do to try stop Tom’s message? They decided to sue his ass. Usually, a guy like this would have no chance going up against a fleet of corporate lawyers; and from the corporation’s perspective, that’s the whole point. Every day companies threaten to sue people who do things with their products that they don’t like. And even though there is free speech and fair use protection in the US Constitution, there is simply no way that most people can afford to hire lawyers to defend themselves. This means that corporations can use lawsuits to shut down free speech even when they know that they would lose the case if it ever went to court.
Luckily for Tom, he convinced some lawyers from the ACLU to step up to and fight his case, and after a long legal battle he was victorious. The judge in the case ruled that the lawsuit clearly ran counter to the first amendment, calling Mattel’s suit “groundless and unreasonable.” Not only that, but the Judge’s order forces Mattel to pay Tom’s $1.8 million in legal fees. National Barbie-in-a-Blender Day, July 27, is a celebration of this important defense of free speech. And of course, the best way to celebrate free speech is to excercise it, and there’s no reason at all why Barbie Art should be limited to fancy art galleries. Let’s make our own! Send your submissions by July 27 to firstname.lastname@example.org. Oooooh, this is going to be good.
Personally I like Barbie and have no desire to whip, chop or puree her, and women who complain about her unnatural proportions (subsequently adjusted) are just jealous. But, as I said last time around: when will Mattel realize that parodies of Barbie are a GOOD thing, confirming the spunky little tart’s cultural significance and continued relevance – worry when they STOP with the homages. Some people/companies are really stupid.