What happens when you produce a commercial about treating women with respect and holding other men accountable for bad behaviour? What do you get when a one-minute-and-48 second video shows men standing up against bullying, teaching their daughters about strength and calling out others for harassment? Apparently, a whole lot of angry men’s rights activists.
I invite you to watch the Gillette commercial below before we take a deep dive into some comments by some very offended people.
The ad features a group of boys crashing through a movie screen that projects the brand’s slogan, “The Best a Man Can Get” prominently on display. “Is it?” says the narrator, over a vignette of questionable behaviour: women being treated like objects, workplace inequality and news of sexual harassment.
“Men need to hold other men accountable,” interjects Terry Crews in a cameo courtesy of a C-SPAN. To show that accountability in action, the ad continues with a man teaching his daughter to be strong, men calling out other men for catcalling and bullying, and people basically, you know, doing the right thing.
Sure, as far as commercials go, it might be a little heavy-handed, maybe even a little hammy. Some might call it just another angle to sell razors. But the message is sound and reasonable — a call to action for men to do better, and if they are already, to be a little louder so their peers at the back can hear.
But some men didn’t see it this way. Some men were deeply, deeply outraged. So much so that they would “rather shave [their] face with a rusty straight razor and lye soap than using another P&G product ever again.” Yes, that was a real comment from YouTube.
It goes from bad:
Gillette — The best a soyboy can get.
Gillette — for those who have no testosterone left.
— Mark Dice (@MarkDice) January 15, 2019
Appalling attack on men. All men need to step up and confront this complete nonsense insinuating all men somehow are bad at some level.
— Dan Silver (@DanSilverAg) January 14, 2019
#BoycottGillette they are trying to switch men to have less manhood and be less if a man, teaching the young ones to be less of a man, the soy is real with this one.
— JB the clockblocker (@speeddemon1017) January 14, 2019
Wow, what a powerful ad campaign. The best one to vilify and alienate your most loyal customers! Why haven’t these dipshits learned! Plenty of other options available! #BoycottGillette
— yup! (@Sfielding21) January 15, 2019
I am taking action. I’m researching every product made by Proctor & Gamble, throwing any I have in the trash, and never buying any of them again until everyone involved in this ad from top to bottom is fired and the company issues a public apology.
— Joe (@JoeS3678) January 14, 2019
— Matt Shaw (@MattShawCrypto) January 15, 2019
Waiting for the Venus range to be advertised with women killing their children, bullying each other, stopping children having a relationship with their father, false paternity, getting drunk and pissing in the street, making false allegations…. #BoycottGillette
— E14 Wolves (@E14Wolves) January 15, 2019
Since you think that’s the right venue to do generalizations, I can’t wait until MaxiPad manufacturers take on the women Gold-digger crisis in the US. #BoycottGillette
— ME (@BenGDressen) January 14, 2019
Threw out ALL P&G products this morning and sold the stock this afternoon! SCREW YOU!!!! I had to defend my boy against feminist bigotry when he was in high school a few years ago. Take your guilt and shove it!!!
— Ron Gross (@rongross100) January 15, 2019
Here’s the thing. If you’re more outraged by a commercial calling out antiquated attitudes than by sexual harassment, bullying and gender inequality, then you are part of the problem. If you equate masculinity with all of the above, you are why this commercial exists.
Rational humans will understand that this isn’t a criticism of all men, but behaviour damaging to them. Simply, this is where we’re at and we just have to keep doing better.
Thankfully, there were some positive responses too.
@Gillette isn’t saying #men and #masculinity are bad. #Toxicmasculinity is when we teach boys that real men don’t cry. Real men don’t show fear. Real men don’t lose. Real men take what they want. Real men solve problems with their fists. It is toxic and it damages men and women. https://t.co/m3PIk05J1H
— Jeffrey Reddick (@JeffreyaReddick) January 15, 2019
Hey @Gillette, I love your new ad. Sorry to hear that some men are too sensitive for the suggestion that dudes should behave with basic human decency. Good thing women shave too, and we’ve got a lot more body hair that we’re expected to get rid of 😂
— rebeccaloebe (@rebeccaloebe) January 15, 2019
if you’re first reaction to the #gillette ad is “fuck you for telling me to not be toxic” you’re toxic.
— Kemal (@KemalBestBoi) January 15, 2019
If it makes you uncomfortable then that’s a good. It’s saying there are some shit men who are bullies and there are the men who do the right thing. If this feels like an attack then you know which one you are. It’s not an attack on men. It’s asking the shit ones to be better
— Jennifer Harrison (@GeneticJen) January 15, 2019
GILLETTE: Men should put in minimal effort to be decent people.
— MehGyver (@AndrewNadeau0) January 15, 2019
If you’re threatened by a commercial that suggests the world would be a better place if you behaved like a decent human, it’s probably time to look for ways to improve yourself that go beyond shaving foam and facial grooming.