"Celebrity Costumes...or Uniforming?
Sure, they look good. They certainly look like "Survivors"...but is this a proper
usage of the Boy Scouts' uniform?? NO!
photo used by permission from Nicklelodeon/CBS Inc.
(this occurred in 2000; however, every year at Halloween time, this comes back up!)
Music recording group Destiny's Child, recipients of the award for "Favorite
Singing Group," arrived at the Nickelodeon's 14th Annual Kid's Choice Awards
in Santa Monica, California wearing what appeared to be official BSA uniforms
Officials at the BSA's National Office informed the record management
and the personal managers of the trio April 23 (2000) that the wearing of BSA uniforms
and insignia is limited to those whom are registered members of the movement.
The managers of the R&B recording act, whose hits include the recent song "Survivor" as
well as the theme song to the movie "Charlie's Angels" immediately contacted
the BSA, apologized and stated that the ladies would provide a written apology.
In their explanation, the group's management stated that in preparation for their
national appearance, a member of their "Crew" found the uniforms and badges at a
second-hand store and thought that since they were appearing at a kid's show, that
they should wear clothing familiar to kids.
The young trio - the youngest is 17 and the oldest is 18 - received two awards from
the cable network based upon votes cast by kids either via email, through special boxes
at their theme park/television studio ranch in central Florida, or through their
corporate sponsors. Nickelodeon is one of several cable networks owned by CBS, Inc.
through their recently acquired VIACOM subsidiary.
This is the third time in which the BSA re-asserted their policy -- which is
covered under their Federal Charter -- to a music artist or group. In the early 80s, the
BSA went after rocker Alice Cooper and in 1993, the BSA's lawyers sent Axel Rose of
Guns z Roses fame a "cease and desist" letter after repeated attempts to ask him to
refrain from using BSA uniforms as costumes during his concerts. Cooper and Rose
were both Boy Scouts in their youth.
The official uniforms and/or insignia of the BSA are not to be used as costumes for
any kind of theatrical or musical production without the written permission of the
Boy Scouts of America. Registered members of the BSA, youth and adult, may appear
before cameras, be videotaped for television programs, and post their image in
uniform on websites; however, they cannot use such appearances to promote or advertise
any commercial venture nor to promote or support any cause -- even if the cause
is one in which the BSA supports.
It is important to note that the BSA has granted permission several times since it's
organization for their official uniforms to be worn by actors or musical groups or
individuals. In cases whereby the program, movie or concert would receive national
attention, the BSA has sent along a professional, volunteer and youth member. This
trio advises the production company, managers - and the artists themselves - on how
to properly wear and present the uniform as well as such matters as how and when to
salute, coaching on the Scouting promises and ideals, and how a neckerchief is worn.
In two cases, production companies worked with the BSA in developing special insignia
to be worn on the actor's uniforms which made it clear that they are members of a
mythical or fake BSA organization.
This permission has NOT been a "blanket invite". Those production companies and management
agencies who do NOT receive the BSA's written permission had to settle with calling
their Scouts "Pathfinders" and to get other badges, mostly military-related ones -- and
attach them to shirts in the same style or color as Boy Scout uniforms to "simulate" or
give the impression that they indeed are "boy scouts" or "cub scouts".
In the "old days", the only way one could obtain a uniform or insignia is by presenting
a valid registration card to a retailer authorized to sell or distribute BSA insignia
and/or uniforming. The BSA has went away from this in recent years because many Scouts
and Scouters do not have immediate access to their registration cards. Additionally, many
parents of Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, as well as relatives and others wishing to purchase
Scouting items, do not have the registration information handy at the time of purchase many
times. However, it is always a good idea to present your registration card anytime you
purchase Scouting items through a Scout Shop (tm) or at a Council Service Center --
especially when you are outside your local Council's service area.
The BSA's Supply Division has sent letters to Salvation Army (tm) and Goodwill(tm),
asking their local stores to discontinue selling Cub Scout and Boy Scouting uniforms
and books. The justification is that many times the uniforms are too worn or are
torn and the books well-written in, which negates the reasoning for purchasing the
items. The BSA additionally, does not receive any of the proceeds from such sales,
which in part they use to make available additional uniforms and insignia items as
well as to provide national-level programming and resources.
However, many smaller
second-hand stores, similar to the one in which the costume designers for Destiny's
Child visited in advance of their Kid's Choice Awards' appearance, did not receive
a letter or request from the BSA; and many Goodwill(tm) and Salvation Army (tm)
facilities still accept, clean, and resell Scouting uniforms because "they are
providing a needed service which others are not providing for families whom cannot
afford the cost of new uniforms and camping equipment."
The uniform is the BSA's "calling card" and "billboard" to youth members in the
United States as well as around the world. For this reason, Scouts and Scouters should
take extra care in not just how their wear their uniforms and the placement of their
insignia -- but also the location and venue in which the uniform is to be worn.
While it may be "cute" and "attractive" to wear the uniform -- even the older versions
of the BSA's uniform -- all of the BSA's uniform and insignia ARE PROTECTED by federal
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Credits: Scans courtesy of Mike Walton
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