Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Last Call For Shaving The World, One Guy At A Time

Gillette, the grooming company we all grew up with and their tagline, "The Best A Man Can Get", reexamined what that phrase really means in the Trump Era with this commercial.

Needless to say, the #NotAllMen folks went absolutely insane with rage over it this week.

Today, the battle for men’s souls reached an extraordinary new frontier: men’s shaving brands. On Tuesday, Gillette released an ad that takes stock of a handful of cultural issues that have always lingered just beneath the surface but became full-blown talking points over the past year: sexual harassment, bullying, and a blanket excusal of this behavior because “boys will be boys.”

Most shaving ads feature gravelly voiced men booming out phrases like Mach 3 or titanium razors, while the camera zooms in on blades gliding over lathered faces. Gillette’s new ad asks viewers to think a little bit harder about its tagline A Best a Man Can Get. Really, what it asks for isn’t much: basic human decency. The ad states explicitly, “We believe in the best in men.” There are clips of Terry Crews, a sexual assault survivor, testifying in front of Congress that men need to hold other men accountable. The commercial shows men doing just that: holding off a pack of bullies, and stopping another guy from harassing a woman.

But it's 2019, so here’s an incredibly exhausting sentence to write: the commercial sparked a wave of anger among conservatives and men’s rights activists that crested with a tweet from British TV personality and professional blowhard Piers Morgan that reads, “Let's be clear: @gillette now wants every man to take one of their razors & cut off his testicles.” (Gillette: need a new tagline?)

Morgan is the most public face of a widespread backlash. On Youtube, the commerical’s already been downvoted almost 330,000 times, versus a relatively meager 74,000 upvotes. A Voice for Men, a "male supremacy" organization that’s classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, urged its supporters to boycott the grooming brand. Another shaving product purveyor attempted to step into the void by declaring it “understand[s] how men work and don’t try to change them into women.” Again, not exactly an accurate reading of the commercial.

“We expected debate,” Pankaj Bhalla, Gillette’s North America brand director, told CNN, although, we’re not sure that boycotts from hate groups is exactly what Bhalla had in mind. Bhalla specifically says that “the ad is not about toxic masculinity. It is about men taking more action every day to set the best example for the next generation."

Frankly, men need to do better, so that the boys of today will be better men tomorrow.  What a horrific concept, right?  And yet the other side's argument is that "Men will continue to be terrible until women give them the respect and deference they deserve just for being men" and that can no longer fly in 2019, guys.

It never could.  "We need to celebrate masculine values like strength, honor, duty, and self-reliance but let's only practice that when it's convenient."

It's sad.  Be the best a man can get, eh?

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