Bimbo contest.

Bimbo contest.

Bimbo contest.

The law, lawyers, and the court.
Jan. 31 2003 6:17 PM

Bimbo Contest

Barbie issues first public statement in wake of high court defeat.

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This week, the U.S. Supreme Court declined without comment to hear a rancorous appeal from Mattel in a trademark battle over the right to parody Barbie in song. Mattel sued MCA Records and the Danish band Aqua, after Aqua called Barbie a "blond bimbo" in their smash 1997 dance single "Barbie Girl." (For complete lyrics in Czech and English click here.) (For an insightful in-depth legal analysis of the intellectual property issues at stake click here.)

Dahlia Lithwick Dahlia Lithwick

Dahlia Lithwick writes about the courts and the law for Slate and hosts the podcast Amicus.

In refusing to hear her appeal Monday, the Supreme Court permitted a 9th Circuit decision dismissing all of Barbie's claims prior to trial to stand. The 9th Circuit ruled last summer that Aqua's free-speech rights in their parody outweighed Mattel's right to see its trademark untarnished and undiluted by Aqua's mean lyrics. Barbie also silently suffered having Judge Alex Kozinski—author of the 9th Circuit opinion—liken an early Barbie to a "German streetwalker." Barbie broke her silence today to speak out about the lawsuit, issuing the following press release from the steps of her Barbie Dreamhouse in Malibu:

Ladies and Gentlemen:

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It is with a heavy chest that I learned of the Supreme Court's decision this week not to hear the appeal of my case against Aqua. I want to say for the record that I believe strongly in free speech and that for only $1.99 I will phone you or your child at home and speak freely to them about all things Barbie™. So call now. I also want to add that as a feminist, an international spokesmodel, and an artist, I respect the court's decision about the right of everyone to capitalize on and exploit me and not just the people at Mattel.

I also want to assure you that despite our disappointment at the Supreme Court's ruling, the people at Mattel remain dedicated to the principle that Barbie™ is neither a bimbo nor a natural blonde. And that as long as I represent the company, Barbie will stand for purity, chastity, and innocence. And that Mattel's new line of Lingerie Barbies ™ that stirred up all that controversy this past Christmas will continue to be sold and marketed with all the good taste and respect for childhood that makes Barbie™ the perfect gift for your toddler. In fact, today I am honored to announce a new Mattel Public Service Initiative, wherein one dollar from the sale of every $45 Lingerie Barbie will go to a special fund for German streetwalkers, to buy them better work clothes, which you can help me pick out for them, on my Web site.

I want to add that this lawsuit has taken a real toll on me and my family. To finance this suit we've had to mortgage the Barbie Camper, sell the Barbie Corvette, and I had to lay off at least half the staff at the Barbie Beauty Shop, where I am now working part-time myself. Skipper has endured a lot of really cruel teasing at school. Ken has been drinking a lot more, and we're having to downgrade to that plastic Fisher Price furniture with the yellow foam mattresses.

Finally, I want to express my deep regret about the court's decision to hear Mickey Mouse's intellectual property lawsuit earlier this year, while refusing to hear mine. It's hard to believe that the Supreme Court would be more interested in the fate of that tired little Disney rodent than they would be in mine, but I guess that just goes to show you that sexism is still alive and well in America. Maybe someday when everyone on the Supreme Court looks like me and/or Ann Coulter, women, feminists, and America's downtrodden will finally be treated equally in the eyes of the law.

Thank you.

Disclaimer: The above material is intended purely as a parody of Barbie and in no way reflects an attempt by Slate to capitalize on Barbie's name, likeness, or image. Any references herein to "Barbie" are purely coincidental.