Daily Revolution News Service

17 viii 2001

You can play with your dolls any way you want, said the Federal Judge to Tom Forsythe.

His artwork of erotic Barbies with blenders caused quite a stir!

Click HERE to learn more.

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  • Tom Forsythe
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  • Barbie Home Page
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    "Funny, Not Offensive"
    Oster Dive
    "Oster Dive"

    A series depicts Barbie fighting for her life in various food-mixers.

    Blender Buddies
    "Blender Buddies"

    Judge Ronald Lew of U.S. District Court even scolded Mattel for lacking a sense of humor. He said that Mr. Forsythe was entitled to use nude Barbie dolls in his photo display "Food Chain Barbie."

    You Can't Beat a GE
    "You Can't Beat a GE"

    Forsythe describes his work as satire, a critique "of the Barbie doll and the shallow, consumerist values fostered and perpetuated by it".

    Monday's setback wasn't the first for the toy maker in the case titled Mattel vs. Walking Mountain Productions.

    In February, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court's decision to deny Mattel's request to bar Forsythe from using the doll in his photographs.

    In September, Lew denied a request to place a preliminary injunction against Forsythe barring him from using the doll and selling the photos as postcards.



    Play With Your Toys!
    by Ace in the Hole

       In a wonderful case of having your cake and getting it smeared in your face, the makers of the ubiquitous Barbie doll lost a million dollar court case against erotic lampoonist Tom Forsythe. Mattel filed suit against Mr. Forsythe two years ago, spawning 25 volumes of legal briefs and related documents. But Mattel and Barbie got it in the end! Here is a sample:


      Forsythe's Barbie-art features Mattel's would be heroine cavorting in the nude: five Barbies mooning, three Barbies draped in martini glasses, Barbie heads impaled on fondue forks inside a boiling pot, Barbie on her back with an electric egg- beater pointing at her crotch, and even Barbie Enchiladas wrapped in a tortilla, slathered in hot sauce.

       Forsythe describes his work as satire, a critique "of the Barbie doll and the shallow, consumerist values fostered and perpetuated by it".

       Mattel says Forsythe's creations are "crudely sexual and violently misogynistic" and has spent two years suing Forsythe for infringement of copyright and a host of other legal sins.

    Happy Hour
    "Happy Hour"

      Ronald Lew, a federal judge in Los Angeles, ruled that the photographs were legitimate parody protected by the freedom of speech provisions of the US constitution. He rejected Mattel's argument that the images hurt Barbie and Ken doll sales and even scolded them for not having a sense of humor!

       "This ruling shows that might is not always right," said Forsythe. "The judge's decision is a powerful victory for all feminists who criticize Barbie's stereotype of women and the unquestioning acceptance that allows Mattel to sell these hyper-sexualized hunks of plastic into millions of American homes," he said.

       Annette Hurst is an intellectual property lawyer who represented Mr. Forsythe on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California. "The photos are parodies of the Barbie dolls and make fun of the image they project," she said.

       Hurst embarrassed Mattel in court by showing that the company did not invent Barbie. The doll was based on a German model called Lilli that the founder of Mattel, Ruth Handler, saw on holiday in Europe in 1957. She named her pirate version of the doll after her daughter, Barbara.

    Barbies on the Half Shell
    "Barbies on the Half Shell"

       Hurst accused Mattel of waging a "reign of legal terror" against artists who criticize their products. "We are gratified that Judge Lew's ruling recognized this important limitation on the copyright and trademark laws," she said. The U.S. Supreme Court held that parody may be considered as a "fair use" of copyright in Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc., 510 U.S. 569 (1994). Nevertheless, Mattel has taken legal action against more than 65 artists.

    Five Moon Salute
    "Five Moon Salute"

       According to the company's lawsuit, Barbie sales exceed $1 billion a year. More than 1 billion of the dolls have been sold, and the typical American girl, aged 3-11, owns several.

    IMPORTANT NOTE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only.