Gillette talks toxic masculinity and #MeToo in controversial advert

No beards, shaving, or hygiene mentioned

Gillette talks toxic masculinity and #MeToo in controversial advert
Stars Insider

15/01/19 | StarsInsider

LIFESTYLE social activism

Gillette's newest advertisement reads like a call to action against bullying, sexual harassment, and toxic masculinity. And yet the video is receiving extremely polarized feedback.

The razor company's "We Believe" ad plays on their three-decade-old slogan "The Best a Man Can Get" by asking: "Is this the best a man can get? Is it?"

Scenes of bullying play through homes, female objectification plays on the television, mansplaining takes over the boardroom, and then there's the eerie imagery of a long line of men behind grills chanting "boys will be boys."

A clip of Terry Crews asking men to hold other men accountable plays, followed by a string of men course-correcting other men, adding that "some already are" going out of their way to be their best selves, but that "some is not enough."

The ad has been watched more than 2 million times in less than 48 hours, and the reactions have been laughably extreme, with some offering praise while others feel the need to boycott the company.

On YouTube and Twitter, angry men typed furiously about how they felt the ad was insulting or that it was "feminist propaganda"—to what end anything promoting feminism could be harmful to men who respect women remains a mystery.

Piers Morgan predictably chimed in on 'Good Morning Britain' to argue that Gillette was presuming all men are horrible people (which, if you refer back to the video, they clearly aren't) and that the brand is no longer celebrating "fabulous masculine qualities." If by masculine qualities he means bullying, sexual assault, and toxic behaviour, then he is correct.

The very fact that men are so bothered by an ad that wants to decrease violent behaviour speaks volumes about how necessary the ad was in the first place.

The ad doesn't just tackle negative or violent actions, but it addresses inaction as well. Many men aren't engaging in toxic behaviour, but are they stopping others when they see it? "It's only by challenging ourselves to do more that we can get closer to our best," says the ad.

On the Gillette website, the company pledges to challenge the stereotypes and expectations of masculinity across all of their content, explaining, "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."

Gillette has also committed to donating US$3 million to non-profit organizations in the United States designed to inspire and educate men, so they're really putting their money where their mouth is. Even if the ad was a ploy to strike very loud chords with audiences and get their name into some headlines, the brand clearly believes in their message and are willing to repeat it again and again, no matter how many customers they lose.

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