It’s been less than three days since Gillette launched an advertising campaign encouraging “positive masculinity.”
The two minute video already has 6,421,072 views, and features news clips of reporting on the #MeToo movement, as well as sexist film scenes, an awkward boardroom interaction and boys fighting, with a voice over saying: “Bullying, the MeToo movement against sexual harassment, toxic masculinity, is this the best a man can get?” In response, they have been bombarded with both praise and abuse.
Those that like the video argue that it is possible to have a positive impact on society at the same time as making money (see Duncan Fisher, head of policy and innovation for the Family Initiative’s comment: “Obviously this is an advert created by an agency to sell razors but it represents an attempt to change the dialogue”). Others, however, disagree not just with the company cashing in on the movement, but the message itself, saying that it is wrong to broadly condemn hyper masculinity.
I wonder how the “toxic men” who stormed the shores of Normandy to liberate the world from pure evil would feel about the moralizing of @Gillette / @ProcterGamble. The folks who do not understand why people are upset at the obnoxious virtue signalling are blind to the TOXIC
— Gad Saad (@GadSaad) 15 January 2019
This idea has been repeated underneath the video across all of Gillette’s social media platforms. From Instagram; “MaScULinItY iS BaD “……say that to the men who stormed the beaches on D-Day and beat that nazis ….without masculine men , weak people like you would have became lamp shades and paper weights,” to Youtube; “There is no ‘TOXIC MASCULINITY!’ Only TOXIC brands,” the add seems to have upset a lot of men.
However, as one insightful Twitter comment points out, they are missing the point.
I was raised to always try and be better, to treat women with respect, and to know that we are equals.
I don’t see any problem with having an ad that suggests we should expect more from the men out there who aren’t living up to that standard.
— Samuel Decker Thompson (@SamuelDeckerT) 15 January 2019
As Mr Thompson points out, getting rid of sexual harassment and bullying does not equate to getting rid of hyper masculinity; it means channelling it in a more positive way. Much like the aggrieved Youtube commenters’ heroes saw something wrong with the world and channelled their energy into fighting it, the add—if you actually watch it—encourages us all to do the same.
I was promised a tone deaf ad that insulted men and all I saw was an ad with a message that many can relate to. Thanks for letting me down, internet.
People are so incapable of nuanced thought it hurts.
— eric (@ericmangun) 15 January 2019
“This commercial isn’t anti-male. It’s pro-humanity,” wrote Bernice King, daughter of the late civil rights legend Martin Luther King. “And it demonstrates that character can step up to change conditions.”
As reported by The Guardian, Duncan Fisher, head of policy and innovation for the Family Initiative, also welcomed Gillette’s revolutionary shift: “There are a lot of men who want to stand up for a different type of masculinity, but for many there has not been a way for men to express that, we just need to give them a voice.”
Others took a different tack, calling out those criticising the add in typical Twitter style…
I mean, it appears that Gillette isn’t a good product for sensitive skin after all.
— HamberderHat (@Popehat) 15 January 2019
I love how triggered everyone is by this ad. Apparently big tough men and the women that apparently only love tough guys getting all bent out of shape by a commercial. The irony is thick with this lot.
— Magnus Linusson (@infinitemagnus1) 15 January 2019
Gillette themselves also chimed in, claiming the add was no hollow gesture:
We appreciate that, Melody. We hope to inspire men to be their best, and we are starting with our own actions. This includes how we portray men in marketing and a commitment to donate $1M per year for the next 3 years to orgs that help men and boys achieve their personal best.
— Gillette (@Gillette) 15 January 2019
But switched on commenters pointed out that, if all goes to plan, the add could make them more money than they donate.
y’all said the same thing about Nike after the Kaepernick deal. they’re going to do better after this
— Don’t Worry (@Thereisaproblem) 15 January 2019