In the music world we have something called “Punk Rock Ethics” which generally refers to a way of making art in a personal way without the influence of a boardroom full of executives who pull all the strings and make their decisions based off of demographs. The idea is that art is a divine inspiration that pours through a human conduit and is bottlenecked when you add extra middle men who typically are only interested in making a buck or attaining fame.
The reason I highlight this concept in reference to Duncan is because I would encourage people to look at what Duncan started off as and what it has become.
Here is a quick Google search result on the history of Yo Yo (skipping past the ancient Greek stuff and weapon stuff) starting in the 1920s.
…"The modern story of the yo-yo starts with a young gentleman from the Philippines named Pedro Flores. In the 1920s, he moved to the USA, and worked as a bellhop at a Santa Monica hotel. Carving and playing with wooden yo-yos was a traditional pastime in the Philippines, but Pedro found that his lunch break yo-yo playing drew a crowd at the hotel. He started a company to make the toys, calling it the Flores Yo-Yo Company. This was the first appearance of the name “yo-yo,” which means “come-come” in the native Filipino language of Tagalog.
Donald F. Duncan, an entrepreneur who had already introduced the Eskimo Pie, Good Humor Ice Cream, was co-patent holder of a four-wheel hydraulic automobile brake, and would later popularize the parking meter, first encountered the yo-yo during a business trip to California. A year later, in 1929, he returned and bought the company from Flores, acquiring not only a unique toy, but also the magic name “yo-yo.”"…
So if this is correct…it should be apparent that Pedro Flores is the true artist and Donald Duncan is the man that made it all possible. I can accept that…but this is where things get unpleasant:
…“For a long time Duncan had the word “yo-yo” as a trademark which led to their slogan “If it’s not a Duncan, it’s not a yo-yo”. In 1962 Duncan sued Royal and Dell over the use of the word yo-yo. The latter company stopped the production of their yo-yos, and a 3 year court battle between Duncan and Royal started regarding the trademarked word. The Supreme Court put the word “yo-yo” in the public domain, stating that the well-known Duncan slogan defined the name of the toy as a “yo-yo”. This landmark decision is is still referenced in copyright court cases today. This long, costly court battle led to Duncan filing bankruptcy a led to the buy-out by Flambeau.”…
So now the original artist is long forgotten…the man that actually took a chance and invested in the idea went bankrupt due to his own greed trying to sue people over the use of the word YOYO which as we previously learned, is a word that comes from a long standing phrase from the Philippines.
None of this sits well with me. The fact that their work is made in sweat shops and owned by a faceless corporation does not help matters at all.
Why does no one like Duncan yet they make millions of sales? I suspect for the same reason that no one likes Nickelback yet they still manage to sell millions of albums.
Just because a company has been in business for decades doesn’t mean “they must be doing something right”…all it proves is that are people gullible (which we already knew).
People keep mentioning that Duncan sponsors the community. Thats cool…but do they do it solely for FAME/MONEY? Obviously so. If you removed the name-recognition (fame) and money then I suspect Duncan would no longer exist WHEREAS many of the other companies such as OD and CLYW would continue to exist because they represent something more than business revenue.
So what does this all mean? It doesnt mean that Duncan is evil or that you should boycott them…it just means you should vote (with your $$$) for companies that represent values similar to your own.
As always, if you just follow your heart, you’ll be aight.