‘Bratz’ & ‘LOL Surprise’ Founder Attacks Autistic Black Influencer & Calls Her A “Disgrace To Black People”
Oh no he di’ent!
If you’ve grown up playing with and watching ‘Bratz’, or your younger sibling is currently growing up with (overpriced, let’s be honest) ‘LOL’ Surprise dolls, well, this may come as both a shock and a dampener. MGA Entertainment founder and CEO, Isaac Larian, has gone on a Twitter rampage, tearing at Black influencer Amina Mucciolo, who accused them of using her image to fashion an ‘LOL’ doll.
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***UPDATE*** Hi Friends, I made a post calling out L.O.L Surprise’s apparent misappropriation of my likeness on 6/7/20. Today I am here to report that the post was removed by @Instagram. #lolsurprise went around social media filing BS copyright claims regarding the photos I used for the doll to try to silence me, when what I did obviously falls under fair use. But that’s OK I have my own doll, and I took a picture myself 🤬. I’m sharing this again, because I refuse to be silenced by them or anyone else! Since our original post, MGA Ent (their parent company) made a very aggressive attempt to contact us, and then within the hour (before we had a chance to respond) began spreading lies about me and my motivation in bringing this issue to light. Given that they’ve shown us no reason to trust them, I decided that it would be a bad idea to engage them without a lawyer. We are currently in the process of hiring one now. If you would like to know how to help or support us, hit the link in my bio. PLEASE SHARE THIS STORY **ORIGINAL POST** (This is an entirely separate incident from the Lisa Frank situation.) L.O.L. Surprise created a doll based on my entire image and identity without my permission. And I haven’t received any acknowledgment or compensation from them in any way. In fact, they are straight up ignoring me. Here are the facts; 1) I wore my hair like this and shared the photos on social media from Nov 2018 to Feb 2019. 2) In April 2019 LOL surprise reached out to me and hired me to be a guest on their YouTube channel for a kids interior design show. 3) Then in July of 2019 they released the Rainbow Raver” doll as a part of their “Hair Goals” collection and it looks exactly like me. 4) I found out about this because I started to receive messages asking me if I knew about the doll, and its striking resemblance to me and my unique hair and outfits. SWIPE TO READ THE ENTIRE ORIGINAL POST
Mucciolo first found out about the doll after receiving messages from people asking her if she knew of the ‘LOL’ Surprise doll that looked a lot like her. She took to her Instagram to post about the doll (the original post was removed by Instagram, whose removal Mucciolo attributes to MGA Entertainment’s wish to ‘silence her’, and then re-uploaded on the 19th of June). She mentioned having been in contact with the company a month before the release of the doll, as they were looking to feature her as a guest on their YouTube channel for a kids interior design show. However, they did not consult her in any way, shape or form about the use of her image for the likeness of the doll – dubbed the ‘Rainbow Raver’, which was later released as part of the ‘Hair Goals’ collection.
Mucciolo talked to BuzzFeed News about the doll, saying
The first thing I noticed was the exact replica of a hairstyle I did to celebrate my 35th birthday. It was aqua with rainbow highlights, and it was shocking because the hairstyle was the result of my imagination and leftover hair I had from the previous style I wore. I didn’t have a visual reference or anything, so it was disturbing to see something that came straight from my mind, to be duplicated on a toy that I had no part in creating.”
Mucciolo also claims that the company has been ignoring her, saying,
“L.O.L. Surprise created a doll based on my entire image and identity without my permission. And I haven’t received any acknowledgement or compensation from them in any way. Having huge corporations make money off my ideas and identity, while I struggle financially as a Black freelance artist and content creator, has been both infuriating and devastating, to say the least.”
She goes on to share how the news was ill-timed, having been made known to her at a time where she was trying to figure out what her autism diagnosis meant for her.
By age 35, Mucciolo had been through rough patches of depression, anxiety, loss of motivation, loss of speech and more. And at age 35, she realised that she had what is known as “autistic burnout.” This happens when a person with autism falls apart after being unable to cope with stress and the mismatch of expectations and abilities. This is through no fault of the autistic individual, but often the result of a lack of adequate support. However, the diagnosis has given her more insight into how she can regain control fo her life.
Discovering I’m autistic at the beginning of the year was completely life changing and honestly one of the best things to ever happened to me.
— Amina Mucciolo (@StudioMucci) December 24, 2018
After her claims started picking up traction on Twitter and other social media platforms, LOL Surprise too to their own account to responded to her allegations. Denying Mucciolo’s claims, they released a timeline for the development of the doll, which shows that the toy company had already planned for it in the summer of 2018, months before Mucciolo adopted that hairstyle.
We’ve seen the allegations and take this seriously. We apologize for the delay but felt it was important to review the timeline and facts internally.
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We’ve seen the allegations and take this seriously. We apologize for the delay but felt it was important to review the timeline and facts internally. Rainbow Raver was designed by one of our talented black creators who confirmed the doll was not based on Amina Mucciolo. While we understand the similarities, we respectfully ask you to take a moment as we share our design timeline.⠀ ⠀ We have tried to contact Studio Mucci to share our chronological production timeline with her.⠀ ⠀ Summer 2018 – Rainbow Raver developed. ⠀ September 2018 – Rainbow Raver confirmed for production.⠀ November 2018 – Ms. Mucciolo posted on IG.⠀ April 2019 – Ms. Mucciolo participates in LOL Surprise video.* ⠀ May 2019 – LOL Surprise video goes live online.* ⠀ June 2019 – Rainbow Raver launched at retail.⠀ June 2020 – Ms. Mucciolo shares post on IG.⠀ ⠀ Our colorful and creative team is inspired by trends in pop culture. Rainbow Raver was designed after music festival fashions. We deeply respect the artistic and creative community and would not take from a creator in the way suggested. MGA works tirelessly to protect our own intellectual property against that behavior.⠀ ⠀ We will continue to always be honest and open with our community.⠀ ⠀ *Updated per fan questions following initial post.⠀
They attribute the design of the doll to “pop culture”, stating,
Rainbow Raver was designed after music festival fashions. We deeply respect the artistic and creative community and would not take from a creator in the way suggested. MGA works tirelessly to protect our own intellectual property against that behavior.”
However, Mucciolo has refused to back down and MGA Entertainment founder and CEO – Isaac Larian – decided that it was time for him to intervene, by verbally attacking her on Twitter. The 66-year-old calls Mucciolo a “liar”, an “extortionist” and a “fraud before threatening to sue her.
As if that wasn’t enough, Larian goes on to call Mucciolo a “#disgrace to black people and the #BLM cause.”
When Mucciolo tweeted that she was looking to hire a lawyer as a result of his threats and hinted that her accounts might be removed because of her fight with the powerful company, he responded:
Upon realising his error, Larian later deleted the tweets and issued an apology.
I don’t know @studiomucci personally, and my reaction was solely based on the allegations which we looked into and found were false. The words I used came from frustration because her actions were attacking the products and integrity of people I care deeply about. I was wrong for that.”
At present, his account has been deleted.
Twitter users have banded together to support Mucciolo and their responses are fire.
One day @isaaclarian is having his companies put out #BlackLivesMatter statements and the next he’s telling a Black women, who’s work his company @LOLSurpriseDoll stole, that she’s a disgrace to black people and the Black Lives Matter cause. #BoycottLOLSurprise pic.twitter.com/WL6fH8Msoc
— Matthew A. Cherry (@MatthewACherry) June 20, 2020
Here's the thing, Isaac. Regardless of what side people were on in this situation, the vitriol you're screaming right now makes Studio Mucci's claims look more valid and you've exposed yourself as a petulant child instead of letting your lawyer handle your legal matters.
— Twisty (@Twistysboutique) June 19, 2020
I’ve been a Bratz girl for YEARS and I’m really hurt over this, but it can’t be ignored just because of my personal attachments. The CEO really called a black woman a “disgrace” after they blatantly stole her image for a doll. This isn’t okay. This is horrible. 😞 pic.twitter.com/KTzr8JJ5HJ
— HRH of Altea 🌙✨ (@RheaMorris_) June 20, 2020
*Cover image credits: Background: Mucciolo's design on Instagram (available for purchase to raise money for @forthegworls) Mucciolo: Mucciolo's Instagram