You go online and set up a legal defense fund. Check it out at FakeLaugh.com where you can get regular updates on their legal woes, send a complaint to A&P , purchase Fresh Beets T-Shirts, and if you can't wait until the end of this post, scoot over to watch the video.
The video in question was created by two New Jersey brothers - Mark and Matthew D'Avella who filmed the video after hours in the A&P Grocery Store where they worked.
Claiming the video caused at least one customer to boycott the store because of the video's "repulsive acts," A&P's parent company, The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company, Inc., filed a $1 million lawsuit in New Jersey's Superior Court and demanded the brothers remove the video from the internet.
Yeah ,right. That was going to happen. Last I looked ,as of September 13th, the video had been viewed by 100,000 people.
Not only is the video still on YouTube, but reaction by most bloggers is that A&P pulled the litigation trigger a bit too fast.
Here's the back story courtesy of the Associated Press:
The 4-minute, 16-second video features the two college students rapping as they handle fruits and vegetables in different parts of a grocery store.
The brothers - styling themselves as a group called Fresh Beets - stand with bananas suggestively hanging out of their pants at one point. One pretends to urinate on some greens.
The rap's refrain is a rhyming couplet: "It's all about the produce produce, we don't like to kid/It's the lower middle portion of the food pyramid."
The rap never mentions the food chain, but A&P said several lines were "disparaging and disgusting," including, "it ain't safe in our produce paradise." The song also uses an obscenity to describe cut fruit.
The video was posted Aug. 6; the brothers were fired Aug. 23, and the lawsuit was filed Aug. 24
Writing in The Citizen Media Law Project, where you can read a detailed description of A&P's lawsuit ,Sam Bayard says,
I've watched the video (quite a few times). True, "Double D" and "Razor Blade" (the brothers' stage monikers) do some borderline-lewd things with fruits and vegetables, and at one point Double D (or is it Razor Blade?) appears to be urinating on some parsley. But I fail to see the connection to A&P, and I can't identify any potentially defamatory statements about A&P. It's impossible to tell that the video was shot inside an A&P store, unless you've been in that particular store (and even then I'm not so sure). Certainly, part of the humor of the video is that it was shot in the store, but the point is much more "look, it's a grocery store" rather than "look, it's an A&P." The brothers don't mention A&P by name or prominently display the A&P trademark.
B.L.Ochman's weblog points out:
It seems that neither side thought much about the probable outcome of their actions.
But c'mon A&P, what are you doing? Any time a big, powerful company sues a young person -- rightly or wrongly -- they get no sympathy. It's the same heavy-handed crap corporations were known for before the communications revolution known as the Internet, and apparently no lessons have been learned. And, get this, A&P also cluelessly demands that the video be removed from the Internet.
Granted the brothers, who call themselves "The Beet Patrol" do some disgusting things with and to the produce. (But really, didn't you always think this kind of stuff was happening anyway? That's why you wash fruit and veggies before you eat them. And to get off the noxious chemicals.)
On Y-Pulse Anastasia Goodstein observes,
Nothing taps into the spirit of youth rebellion more than when a corporation uses its power (and army of lawyers) to sue a young person. Whether the company is technically right or wrong, the fact that they are suing "the little guy" inherently paints them in a negative light...
Update: Shel Holtz wrote a great post on his blog suggesting: Rather than firing and suing (and getting a lot of press), A&P would have been far better off at least considering ways to take advantage of the brothers’ efforts. It would have been easy to make the point that the video doesn’t reflect the way A&P produce workers go about their work while spotlighting the talent of its employees. Playing up the video could have attracted college-age customers to their stores. Now, as 22-year-old Mark noted in the AP story, “If they lose any sales, it will be because of the way they treated two students.”
Indeed, it will be interesting to see if a Facebook activist group forms in support of the boys or calling for a boycott of A&P until they drop the suit. A&P may get its social media lessons the hard way. I’m not suggesting A&P has no grounds for its suit. It’s just not smart when the company could find ways to increase sales and attract new customers instead.
Of course, there’s also an opportunity here for Safeway or some other big grocery chain, isn’t there? Hiring the brothers and applauding their creativity could bring a surge of business, including the patronage of former A&P customers.
By the way, the boys father is the produce manager. And, here's the video. YouTube did give it an 18+ rating.