Gillette: Backlash and Misrepresentation

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Gillette: Backlash and Misrepresentation

Zachary Farley, Staff Writer

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Gillette has been promoting their razors as “The Best a Man Can Get” for 30 years, but with an advertisement released on YouTube in early January, the company’s approach to civic involvement has become extremely prominent, for all of the wrong reasons.

The highly-popular razor company has been a reliable source of razors — primarily for men — since the beginning of the twentieth century. However, many are claiming that with their “The Best Men Can Be” campaign, Gillette is spitting in the faces of their target demographic and appealing to supposed misandric trends in the media and among feminist movements.

Gillette’s now infamous video, currently with 745,000 likes and more than 1.3 Million dislikes, implicitly highlights the perpetuation of “toxic masculinity” in childhood, with fathers acting seemingly blind to the conflicts occurring under their watch. The sentiment “boys will be boys” is chanted by a row of fathers standing in front of grills, entirely complacent. This is a dangerous idiom that should be addressed, but Gillette’s monotonous depiction begins a series of images that seem to present men as a collective societal evil that are currently leading the young boys of today down a path of violence and hatred.

The video continues with a myriad of short clips — distasteful scenes from old television shows, excerpts of news stories about toxic masculinity, a testimony from assault survivor Terry Crews, et cetera — all focusing on the poor character of some men. But Gillette seems to claim that the majority, not the minority of men, are causing the problems running rampant in today’s world.

The advertisement in question comes in response to a rise in sexual harassment allegations and the #MeToo movement, as millions work to combat a so-called “rape culture,” a culture in which “rape is pervasive and normalized.” While the #MeToo movement began as an admirable push to end sexual harassment of women — an issue undeniably important to combat — the trend of defining the United States with such a term is an inaccurate description of our entire society today.

Rape is not, in any way, considered normal or acceptable among decent citizens of our nation, but the cases of violently perverted men in power are amplified without acknowledgment of the men that are trying to make a difference. This is one, and perhaps the only thing, that the Gillette advertisement does right; they celebrate “some” men who stand up to inappropriate behavior of their fellow men. But it’s important to remember that a vast majority of people, thankfully, acknowledge that rape is entirely unacceptable and should remain an extremely serious crime.

It’s likely that Gillette had benevolent intentions in releasing this advertisement, or perhaps they only wished to utilize the controversy that would ensue to boost sales through increased social clout. Regardless, it is apparent that the video proved to be a divisive piece that, like many similar attempts at unification, only polarized viewers to further lengths.

Addressing the plight of sexual assaults facing women is imperative, while also paying close attention to the fact that nearly every respectable man truly does want to ensure that women can be safe, among threats of the few men that perpetuate this salient and disheartening issue.