I hope by now you’ve seen Gillette’s breakthrough commercial.
It has created immense controversy, sparked discussion, and garnered millions of views – everything a good ad should do.
In the quest to stay informed, navigate the gendered professional and academic worlds, and, of course, while watching Mad Men, I have become hypersensitive to ads. Gillette’s created a lot of buzz, and, personally, I love it.
The entire message is that men need to start holding other men accountable for their wrongdoings, especially towards women. Frankly, I think America needs to be reminded of this. Almost every single day I encounter some form or catch wind of either catcalling, assault, harassment, and so on.
It also touches on other important issues, like bullying, the glass ceiling, and the ever-present adage of “boys will be boys.” I am a firm believer that boys and girls should generally be raised with the same values, and that gender is not an excuse to behave a certain way, especially if it’s negative. I think it’s beautifully done, despite critics saying it only perpetuates male stereotypes and that the message is hypocritical, considering that Gillette has long branded their product as something to get women, as if they are a prize or possession. It calls to mind Don Draper’s point from his famous Kodak pitch in season 1 in which he presents that all effective advertisements use emotion, primarily nostalgia. The idea of something as simple as a razor evoking so much feeling, the freedom of childhood, the legacy of fathers on their sons, and the social upheaval our society is engulfed in, makes Gillette’s commercial memorable, whether you agree with the message or not.
Granted, I am obviously not a man, but I don’t think the ad is demonizing all men. To me, it’s a visceral reminder that good men – in fact, the best ones – uphold values of respecting everyone.
Also, Terry Crews is featured in the ad. I don’t know how you could watch a commercial featuring a prominent celebrity who was sexually assaulted by another man and think that the takeaway is that Gillette thinks all men are woman-beaters.
It ends by reminding viewers that “the boys watching today will be the men of tomorrow.”
I loved the sentiment. Sexism, racism, classism, and too many other -isms that ruin us are not inherent or innate, but taught.
I first wrote this draft on January 19th, almost five months ago. There’s so much to dive into from not even two minutes of content, but I have been sitting on it for months and still don’t know that what I have to say is deserving of what I think is the best ad of the year. It came in the midst of the Dr. Christine Blasey Ford/Kavanaugh accusations, immense gender turmoil in my own personal sphere, and, as it always seems now, #MeToo allegations emerging left and right.
Do we ask too much of the men in our lives? Are we painting them with too broad a brush?