Why so many boxers are in a wad over the Gillette commercial

January 22, 2019

Last week, Gillette joined the growing force of U.S. companies who have used their large platforms and marketing dollars to launch powerful social commentaries. And like the commercial featuring Colin Kaepernick, launched by Nike last September, people have their britches bundled over it.

I’ve spent some time reviewing the commercial and the scathing commentaries it has prompted from individuals and conservative news outlets. As of today, the YouTube video has over 24 million views, 670k likes, and 1.1 million dislikes.

That’s a pretty profound like-to-dislike ratio.

Of the commercial, Joe Rogan said, “All these guys are really mad cause it’s like an anti-masculine Gillette commercial, it makes like every man look like a misogynist piece of shit, it’s such a disturbing commercial. It’s like, over and over getting men doing douchey shit.”

A [female] New York Post reporter said, “Many Americans were angry, not the least men, whom the commercial framed as universal aggressors and rapists.”

Piers Morgan 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.”

Actor James Woods tweeted, “So nice to see @Gillette jumping on the ‘men are horrible’ campaign permeating mainstream media and Hollywood entertainment.”

Making every man look like a misogynist piece of shit? Universal aggressors and rapists? A global assault on masculinity? A ‘men are horrible’ campaign’?

The fact that these responses to the Gillette commercial exist at all – let alone, in such a large chorus – is exactly why this message is so needed.

Peruse the comments for the video and you’ll see that people (mostly men, it appears), are irate over the commercial. I wanted to take some time to dissect the message and examine why so many folks seem to be having such visceral reactions to it. If you haven’t yet viewed the commercial, check it out, below.

The message builds on the “Best a man can get” campaign launched by Gillette 30 years ago.

Is this the best a man can get? Is it? We can’t hide from it. It’s been going on far too long. We can’t laugh it off. Making the same old excuses. But something finally changed.

And there will be no going back. Because we…? We believe in the best in men. To say the right thing. To act the right way. Some already are. In ways big, and small. But some is not enough. Because the boys watching today will be the men of tomorrow.

Toxic Masculinity

Essentially, Gillette’s commercial is aimed at toxic masculinity. Contrary to the knee-jerk reactions that the campaign has invoked for many viewers, the message is not an attack on men.

It is a commentary on toxic masculine behaviors… behaviors that are so deeply ingrained in our culture that we have long failed to recognize just how damaging they are to everyone – women and men. It is a call-out of the free passes we have given to men for “locker room talk,” – the notion that “boys will be boys.” It is a criticism not only of misogynistic and sexist behaviors toward women, but of harmful aggression and bullying behaviors between men … behaviors that have long been considered standards in corporate boardrooms, playgrounds, sports fields, and locker rooms all over the country.

The Gillette commercial is a challenge to men acting in toxic ways – not because they are inherently bad guys, but because they are acting in accordance with the standards and norms of their culture. Norms that must change…

Norms that – like it or not – are changing. 

The message of the Gillette commercial is not about bashing men. It challenges men to treat women with respect. It challenges them to be better fathers to their little girls, and better role models for their sons. It challenges men to hold one another accountable, to support each other, to have each others’ backs. It challenges men “To say the right thing. To act the right way.”

It challenges men of today to step up and to act with integrity and honor “Because the boys watching today will be the men of tomorrow.”

More than a Few Good Men

What the Gillette commercial does not do is accuse all men of being crass, slovenly brutes. It does not make them out to be “universal rapists and aggressors.” And certainly, they are not. This country is teeming with many wonderful men — men who understand duty and honor, men who respect women, who are incredible fathers, who epitomize integrity.

Men who are a cut above the rest.

That’s what the Gillette commercial is about. It is about challenging men to be the best versions of themselves. The commercial closes with the following:

It’s only by challenging ourselves to do more that we can get closer to our best.

It is about being better… and that’s a message that we should all find inspiring – men and women, alike. We should all want to be better each day, to improve upon yesterday’s versions of ourselves. We should all want to grow and stretch, to learn to be kinder, more loving, more genuine and honorable versions of ourselves.

The commercial should not feel like a threat to anyone. It should be inspiring. The truly strong men are those who are not threatened by the success of a women, who do not need to puff up their chests and beat other men down to feel better about themselves. Truly strong men are those who lift others up. Who teach their sons how to be good men, and who are living examples of the types of men they want their daughters to be with someday.

Toxic Femininity…?

This is a thing too… I’ll discuss it next...

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