If you’re mad at Gillette’s toxic masculinity ad, maybe you’re the problem

Why are some men so afraid of the new Gillette #MeToo commercial? That’s the only explanation, right? The razor company has a new commercial that takes its decades-old slogan, “The best a man can get,” and turns it on its ear. The ad, which depicts bullying, sexual harassment and more – toxic masculinity, in other words – asks, “Is this the best a man can get?”

And a lot of men have taken to social media to lash out at Gillette and the commercial – just for reference, on YouTube, the spot has garnered 289,000 likes and a whopping 683,000 dislikes.

Why? It doesn’t take a sociologist or a psychologist to recognize a lot of guilt and fear masquerading as anger.

Piers Morgan, the TV personality never above digging in on an iffy position if it means attention, tweeted, “I’ve used @Gillette razors my entire adult life but this absurd virtue-signaling PC guff may drive me away to a company less eager to fuel the current pathetic global assault on masculinity. Let boys be damn boys. Let men be damn men.”

Let Piers be Piers, more like. You wonder if he’s actually seen the commercial, since “let boys be boys” is one of the excuses it challenges.

Sending a message

More responses: “I will NEVER buy another @Gillette or @ProcterGamble product ever again. There latest commercial attacking men of disgusting. Attacking your customers is really smart!”

It’s not an attack on men, by the way. It’s an attack on inappropriate and abusive behavior by men. So if you don’t engage in that, what’s there to worry about?

This one is more direct: “(Expletive) you @Gillette I’m not buying your (expletive) ever again.”

Even former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee weighed in.

It’s not an attack on men, by the way. It’s an attack on inappropriate and abusive behaviour by men. So if you don’t engage in that, what’s there to worry about?

“’Get woke, go broke.’ @Gillette might be next to suffer that fate, after video by female director Kim Gehrig, depicting oafish male behaviour and lecturing men on toxic masculinity. Time to sell my @ProcterGamble stock? Why don’t they sell soap-not their soap box?”

Evidently he didn’t read about the rise in value of Nike stock after their controversial Colin Kaepernick commercial.

The company’s stance

On its website, Gillette says, “It’s time we acknowledge that brands, like ours, play a role in influencing culture. And as a company that encourages men to be their best, we have a responsibility to make sure we are promoting positive, attainable, inclusive and healthy versions of what it means to be a man.”

The company says it will donate $1 million a year to nonprofits in the U.S. that help men become role models for the next generation.

Now, a couple of things here. Yes, it is a commercial – Gillette’s motives aren’t all altruistic. Their competitors have been gaining ground on them for some time. A little social consciousness can’t hurt.

But so what? They could have gone a different route, maybe tried to tap into the bro culture – the guys whose behavior the company is challenging shave, too, after all. Good for Gillette for making such a thought-provoking ad.

Also: It’s really in-your-face. Some of the more-reserved criticism claims that the bad behaviour is stereotypical and not representative of all men.

Duh. It’s a commercial. They paint with a broad brush, in an attempt to reach as wide an audience, and attract as many eyeballs, as possible.

Finally, not all of the reaction is negative. In fact, some people praise Gillette for the ad, and for addressing the issue head-on and in such a dramatic way.

Simmer down

But honestly, some of the anger directed at the ad floating around on social media is so overdone it almost seems like parody. Like this – from a woman:

“(Expletive) Gillette. Men are meant to be masculine. Men and women are different. Not all men harass women and not all women are innocent. I LOVE MASCULINE MEN. Do not listen to their (expletive)!”

Simmer down. If calling men out on toxic behaviour somehow offends you, no matter who’s doing the calling, well, maybe a razor commercial isn’t your biggest issue. And the last time I checked, Schick was still in business.

Published in Daily Times, January 18th 2019.

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