Safety razor manufacturer Gillette dropped its latest advertisement yesterday, which turns out not to be about shaving at all, though it is, in a way, about personal care.
The company's "We Believe" ad weighs in on topics like toxic masculinity, sexual harassment, and the #MeToo movement. The company even plays off its famous tagline, imploring us: "Is this the best a man can get?"
The video continues "We? We believe in the best in men," and urges male viewers to hold their friends accountable for sexism. The video at one point incorporates footage of actor Terry Crews's 2018 Senate testimony on his own sexual assault, and closes with scenes of men bonding with their children, standing up for other people, and breaking up physical fights.
You can watch the ad for yourself below:
We Believe: The Best Men Can Be | Gillette (Short Film) youtu.be
Reactions to the ad campaign have been rather polarized.
"Basically, this message was delivered in as ego-delicate a manner as possible," writes Jezebel's Hannah Gold, "but of course the malignantly masculine personalities, both public and private, that grow mad at anything possible, piled on to this highly visible expression of, well, brand solidarity."
Look no further than the reaction from English television presenter Piers Morgan, who decried what we perceives as a war on masculinity.
I've used @Gillette razors my entire adult life but this absurd virtue-signalling PC guff may drive me away to a co… https://t.co/A6yIkjwi7Q— Piers Morgan (@Piers Morgan)1547493177.0
Fox News host Greg Gutfeld characterized the ad as "a smarmy, condescending virtual signal."
the only ones lauding the Gillette ad work in media/advertising. everyone else sees it for what it is: a smarmy, co… https://t.co/FwwIraR7sY— GregGutfeld (@GregGutfeld)1547519667.0
Evolutionary behavioral scientist Gad Saad engaged in a session of #NotAllMen-ing which, as expected, completely missed the point.
Dear @Gillette: Some men are violent misogynists. Most are willing to die to protect our liberties and freedoms (in… https://t.co/MbGh0Vwovr— Gad Saad (@Gad Saad)1547502632.0
Emmy-winning actor turned right-wing conspiracy theorist James Woods vowed to never purchase Gillette products.
So nice to see @Gillette jumping on the “men are horrible” campaign permeating mainstream media and Hollywood enter… https://t.co/N5OPMyUi5v— James Woods (@James Woods)1547508655.0
Conservative national security commentator and analyst John Noonan proclaimed Gillette had crossed a "line" he was kind enough to lay out for us.
Look @gillette, I know your heart is in the right place. But there's a line. And that line is where my razor bl… https://t.co/Wwv9PRh9Vr— John Noonan (@John Noonan)1547506127.0
The backlash, as strong as it's been, prompted Gillette to release the following statement:
"We expected debate—discussion is necessary. For every negative reaction we've seen many positive reactions, people calling the effort courageous, timely, smart, and much-needed. At the end of the day, sparking conversation is what matters. This gets people to pay attention to the topic and encourages them to consider taking action to make a difference."
But the ad has plenty of supporters, too, and, as one person pointed out, it's become more commercially viable to create advertisements premised around being a good, compassionate human being.
Once again, I'm very much okay with this shift in cultural standards. "Be a good human" is getting ever-more comme… https://t.co/Ox90EztQW6— Mika McKinnon (@Mika McKinnon)1547508988.0
Folks are upset @Gillette? No #men and #masculinity are not #toxic. But #Toxicmasculinity is a cultural belief tha… https://t.co/l6ln7fLnJM— Jeffrey Reddick (@Jeffrey Reddick)1547517163.0
aaaaannnnnd Gillette made e cry at my desk https://t.co/9HYV24ZDbV— 20Pemberteen (@20Pemberteen)1547513879.0
Thanks for this Gillette. I agree. We absolutely as men can do a better job instilling better morals and behavior o… https://t.co/eBFQqJxqdT— Max Gonzalez (@Max Gonzalez)1547518163.0
I will close out this article with the following tweet, from conservative talk show host Joe Pagliarulo, whose defensive tweet included the statement "Real men already stop other guys from acting badly."
Hey @Gillette, I have an idea, stay out of politics. Real men already stop other guys from acting badly. A razor… https://t.co/3zlhrbpV7N— Joe Pags Pagliarulo (@Joe Pags Pagliarulo)1547516746.0
That may be, Mr. Pagliarulo. But no one is saying masculinity is toxic. People are saying that toxic masculinity is bad. It's quite literally in the name. Insidious horrors enter public parlance once they're assigned names.
Take it from a fellow man who recalls what a friend (also a man) recently shared with him: "If your entire argument is based on trying to own a word, ask yourself why it's so important to you that you own that word. Instead of aspiring to understand a plight, you simply wish to co-opt the role of victim. The energy you're using comes from a bad place. Listen. Stop trying to take another thing for yourself and try to understand why it's not yours."
That says it all. Well done, Gillette.