“It’s only by challenging ourselves to do more that we can move closer to our best.”
Those were the words that came across the screen at the closing of Gillette’s most recent advertisement.
The short viral film, posted to YouTube on January 13 by Gillette, has been met with an alarming amount of backlash by the public. The video has been disliked over a million times on YouTube and the level of distaste this message has received is odd and concerning to me.
The message Gillette sends is clear: as men, we can be problematic; or as they paralleled so smoothly to their familiar jingle, they ask if this is “the best a man can get?” The video focuses on things such as bullying, sexual harassment and other issues that revolve around the overarching theme of toxic masculinity. The frustrating part of the backlash has been the crusade that some men have taken on, expressing that they personally aren’t one to do these bad things. To that I say: hey man, good for you. You’re a good person that is misguided in where you should be directing your energy. Because really, if you can’t understand that this is simply a wake-up call spotlighting the fact that these things really are far too present in our culture and not a personal attack on you, then you have some critical thinking to do.
Listen, I get it. Who is the random corporation to tell you what to do? Gillette has been all over social media and the mainstream news because of this campaign that has been viewed 10 million times. Yet, as we’ve seen with Nike’s partnership with Colin Kaepernick, controversy and taking a stand on social issues does sell today. Consumers like to be passionate and enjoy feeling as if they are a part of something greater and in such a condensed marketplace, a product that aligns with your beliefs, can set them apart from the rest. Gillette is in the business of selling products and making money and to think that they did this purely out of the kindness of their heart would be naive. So sure, go ahead and question Gillette’s motives. But what you can’t deny is the value in the conversation that they have sparked and you most certainly can’t discount the stand they have taken for those who have been victimized by these toxic acts in the past. To look past this would be irresponsible and entirely missing the point of what has been said. Aside from this, I simply can’t see how you can spin the message their video has conveyed in a negative way. It’s a compilation of what has been born from a long-standing patriarchal society and of what no longer should be considered acceptable from a man in 2019 — or should’ve been ever. It encourages you to reflect on how you approach certain situations, in spite of a common counter-argument being that those in need of the most reflecting are unreachable by an ad; I don’t fault Gillette for their effort in this scenario. Self reflection is an important thing and as men, and human beings in general, it’s important to realize that there is no finish line to being a good person. Your humanity is determined by your approach to life and your actions even more so. While it’s easy to get sucked into what has culturally snowballed, change is necessary and progress is the goal. This ad simply prompts that thought process.
You are a role model to someone and your actions have consequences (as they should), but the fortunate thing is that you also have a mind of your own. We are capable of better and that’s all Gillette is trying to tell us. Spare me the theatrics of flushing your razors down the toilet in “fake outrage” and focus on making the world a more positive place by being a decent person.