A new Gillette commercial took an unflinching look at modern masculinity this week, and it caused a serious uproar on social media.
The shaving company put out an ad ahead of the Super Bowl on Sunday, referencing the Me Too movement, sexual harassment and violence both against women and between men. It is nearly two minutes in length, and as it has made the rounds online it has sparked debate, in some cases, outrage, amongst viewers.
The Gilette ad pushes the slogan "The Best Men Can Be," advocating for non-violence and maturity as the new standard of manliness. It begins with powerful clips of men using standby phrases like "boys will be boys," and allowing each other to fight each other, mock femininity or belittle women. As it goes on, it suggests more constructive behaviors, showing men breaking up fights, dissuading their friends from calling out at women on the street, and encouraging their daughters.
Gillette: Men, please do your best to treat others with respect
Men: COME AT ME BRO SAY THAT SHIT TO MY UNSHAVEN FACE— Lauren Duca (@laurenduca) January 15, 2019
Unsurprisingly, the video caused a pretty clear divide online. Many found its message to be powerful and hopeful, framing the societal concerns in a way that men could digest it as in their best interest as well. Among those praising the ad were some prominent women.
"This ad is amazing and made me cry," wrote Brooklyn Nine-Nine's Melissa Fumero. "Bravo @Gillette for taking a stand. This is the kind of world I want my son to grow up in. To all the men offended by this... take a good hard look in the mirror pal and ask yourself why."
"That Gillette ad doesn’t wage war on men, it simply challenges men not to bully, catcall, grope or assault anybody," noted journalist and filmmaker Adam Best. "How is that controversial? Interesting to see conservatives, who weaponized Al Franken and Harvey Weinstein for political purposes, feign outrage over this message."
That Gillette ad doesn’t wage war on men, it simply challenges men not to bully, catcall, grope or assault anybody. How is that controversial? Interesting to see conservatives, who weaponized Al Franken and Harvey Weinstein for political purposes, feign outrage over this message.— Adam Best (@adamcbest) January 15, 2019
Many argued, however, that the commercial had an agenda, or represented an insincere form of "virtue-signaling." Here, too, women took sides, with conservative commentator Candace Owens weighing in.
"The #Gillette commercial is the product of mainstream radicalized feminism — & emblematic of Cultural Marxism," she declared. "STOP PERVERTING MASCULINITY. LET LITTLE BOYS WRESTLE. Despite what Lena Dunham tells you, women are not into beta males & men are not into chicks w/ armpit hair."
The #Gillette commercial is the product of mainstream radicalized feminism— & emblematic of Cultural Marxism.
LET LITTLE BOYS WRESTLE.
Despite what Lena Dunham tells you, women are not into beta males & men are not into chicks w/ armpit hair.— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) January 15, 2019
At the fringes of this explosive conversation, people on both sides questioned the corporate aspect of the ad. Many speculated that a huge corporation would only plant itself on one side of a debate like this if market research showed it would be profitable. They wondered what the follow-up ad during the Super Bowl might look like.
A few small calls to boycott Gilette emerged online, though none seemed to gain much traction.