I hate Sex and the City..... But, I can't escape it. Posters are all over my block. People are posting about it on facebook. I hate these hos. So, I dug up my old Entertainment Law Final. A lot of readers have been curious about how the hell a goon like me actually graduated law school. Well, here is a sample LOL. I submitted this paper called Sex in Her Shitty as my law school final and had to watch pretty much every episode to write it. True story. The Professor is also now my attorney so that's cool. I cut out most of the boring shit. Hopefully it is entertaining... At the least, it's just fun to see what you can get away with in law school. I can't wait to write something like this to chairman bao truck haha.
The Trademark Dilution Revision Act's Implications of Pornody
BY: EDDIE HUANG
Pipedream specializes in the design, manufacture, and sale of adult entertainment products including the “Super Star Series.” Recently, they released the "Sarah Jessica Pork-Her: Sex in Her Sh$@@y" doll ("Pipedream Doll") parodying HBO's Sex in the City and Sarah Jessica Parker's character, Carrie Bradshaw. The Pipedream Doll utilizes the same font as the HBO mark, a look-a-like model, similar photographic style, and the words "Sex" and "in." Other parodies in the series include Jessica Simpson's Daisy character from Dukes of Hazard,Tori Spelling’s Beverly Hills 90210 character, and Paris Hilton as her fabulous self.
The Super Star Series not only parodies the character, but also the lifestyle and culture the character represents. Sarah Jessica Pork-Her comments on the Manhattan single woman and her cosmo-twirling sexually liberal lifestyle, which is made obvious by the box cover image of the look-a-like holding a cosmopolitan in a brightly sequined dress and high heels. But, the question must be asked, does this product violate HBO’s Sex in the City trademark? Because the issue of consumer confusion seems to strongly favor Pipedream due to the red light district type product and outrageous packaging, I will instead address the more competitive issue concerning trademark dilution.
Does Pipedream's "Sarah Jessica Pork-Her: Sex in Her Sh$@@y" doll tarnish or blur HBO's Sex in the City trademark?
PIPEDREAM'S DOLL DOES NOT TARNISH
As Hormel Foods points out, "Tarnishment can occur through a variety of uses. Some cases have found that a mark is tarnished when its likeness is placed in the context of sexual activity, obscenity, or illegal activity."20 If a senior mark was associated with a junior mark that lives in a sexual setting, it would usually be a blow to defendant's claim against tarnish. But, this situation is unique because sex is a central theme to both the senior and junior marks. Sex in the City catalogs Carrie Bradshaw's numerous sexual escapades and there are many references to sex toys such as Season 1, Episode 9: "The Turtle and The Hare," Charlotte one of the main characters becomes addicted to a vibrator called "the rabbit."21 It is very difficult for HBO to claim tarnishment from the Pipedream Doll because Carrie, her co-horts, and the story line all indulge in like objects and raunchy sexual discourse. Taking these circumstances into account, Pipedream's parody of Sex in the City does not tarnish HBO's senior mark.
Sex and the City has been critically acclaimed for exposing the New York Singles Scene and presenting sex from Carrie Bradshaw's raunchy female perspective that holds no punches. As Georgie Binks writes, "At first, I have to admit, the sex aspect intrigued me. It's not every day, after all, that you actually see naked people in compromising positions on a mainstream television show. It's rarer still to hear a woman swear as much as Samantha did during the course of a meal."22 When viewed in this light, Pipedream's product being sexual does not carry the circumstantial weight a sexual association usually would in tarnishment analysis. Carrie Bradshaw was the vehicle for exploring what its creator, Darren Star, saw as "real life," he said, "It's a lot about talking about sex, thinking about sex. Every third thought is a sexual thought, and I think that's what this show is about - what people are really thinking about is sex."23 The show, the characters, the creator, and the viewers embrace the show for its raw take on sex and Carrie Bradshaw has become a cultural symbol representing women having sex like men.24
Judy Cox states:
This is sex in a context where women are explicitly trying to turn the
tables on men, 'to have sex just like men do', but by this they mean to have sex
without any emotional involvement, to have sex casually and then walk away.
Thus it is seen as liberating to have an orgasm and then leave before the man you
are having sex with does. Thus it is seen as taboo breaking to discuss anal sex,
but in the same conventional terms as women used to discuss losing their virginity
in the 1950s and 1960s. Thus it is seen as a great breakthrough to 'reclaim' words
which are the most offensive towards women and their bodies.25
Parodying Carrie through the creation of a blow up doll seems to function in the same sphere as the show itself and the reputation of HBO's mark is not harmed. HBO may attempt to make a Deere type claim that the lack of prestige in Pipedream's Doll tranishes the mark's ability to serve as a "wholesome identifier,"26 but it is clear that Sex in the City has never been a wholesome identifier. It's opening credits to each and every show clearly present its heroine making the "walk of shame" home.
Shelton Hull states,
Concepts such as restraint, decorum, reputation and (watch out!) feminine
virtue are scarcely mentioned. The awkward exit that often caps an urban one
night-stand is only alluded to in the show’s opening sequence, which shows
Carrie hobbling on her heels, hailing a cab in last night’s finery. Because she’s
an independent woman, with her own money and (we assume) goals, it does not
matter what happens to her reputation in the most densely-populated place on
The symmetry of Sex in the City's character driven shenanigans and storylines blend seemlessly with Pipedream's Doll, which is what makes the parody so effective. There are several statements being made, one of which is commentary on what is and isn't appropriate while also identifying a social inconsistency. Carrie is a single New York woman with a seemingly insatiable sexual appetite. In HBO's episode guide, the synopsis for Season 3, Episode 36 appropriately titled "Are We Sluts?" says, "Carrie realizes that she's become used to skipping over romance and heading straight for sex, and that's why Aidan's slow and deliberate ways seems so strange. Finally though, when the moment is right, Aidan and Carrie consummate their lust."28 HBO presented Carrie and her lifestyle in a raw manner captivating the national viewing audience and compiled 50 Emmy Award nominations, 7 Emmy Award Wins, 24 Golden Globe nominations and 8 wins. Throughout its run, Carrie and her friends have walked a fine line between sexual liberation and unbridled sexual manipulation. Pipedream takes a side in the discourse and presents Carrie as a sordid blow up doll offering "three fabulous love holes" at $20 a doll. On screen, the girl is an award magnet, as rubber she's a $20 "f@ck buddy.”29
There is judgment about Carrie's true nature, there is commentary on society's acceptance of Carrie, and there is Pipedream's exercise of First Amendment rights, which is a Tolstoy like comment itself on "what is art" and the boundaries of acceptable merchandising. By creating the raucous doll, Pipedream goes where HBO cannot, even though the product is in line with the content of its award winning show. The characters themselves ask whether they are "sluts" and Pipedream answers by literally "branding" Carrie and portraying her as a ready-to-love doll.
This is the layer of parody that requires mimicry, but does not reach the level of association which blurs or tarnishes. Because Sex in the City is founded on exploring the sordid side of single life and sex, Pipedream's parody cannot tarnish what creators intended to be the ground floor or, better yet, basement in the pyramid of wholesomeness. If the show was Mother Teresa in the City, there'd be a problem with a Mother Teresa Blow Up Doll, but this is Carrie Bradshaw, this is Samantha Jones, this is Sex in the City: the birth mother of Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, Brittney Spears and any other post-Sex in the City Manolo wearing, unbridled, freudian, female Id screaming down Madison Avenue with a hundred thousand wants and needs.
Viewers have seen these girls in the raw, in the bathroom, in nightvision, in Paris, etc., it's about time people saw them as dolls molded from Prada-like synthetics stamped with the sexual culture they created. There is no tarnish or blurring. If anything, it's a Hormel like polish on their work through parody where the brunt of a joke becomes more famous. HBO doesn’t lose any distinctiveness and its mark was never a wholesome identifier to begin with. They’d have a better claim against a company that tried to take the “bad girl” out of the image. The Pipedream Doll is the equivalent of a wax museum piece, this parody memorializes Carrie and the show, while also commenting on the negative social impact many perceive it to have.