Nobody Really Likes an Angry, Angry Man
Nobody Really Likes an Angry, Angry Man
The past few weeks in the news have been odd. With Theresa May’s Brexit deal falling through and her government barely supporting her, the world just seems weird at the moment. But if you haven’t seen a big advert being a headlining article in many newspapers, you’ve probably missed something. Let’s talk about the new Gillette advert.
Gillette, a men’s razor company, recently premiered its new advert, a short film named ‘Believe’. The film replaces Gillette’s signature “The best a man can get” with “The best men can be”. Gillette had said that it wanted to “hold men accountable”, which is exactly what it does with this short film.
The advert shows images of sexual harassment, bullying, misogyny and aggressive behaviour by men, before revisiting these same scenarios, but including another male lead who steps in these certain situations to prevent these behaviours. In the times of MeToo and HeForShe, the film shows men exactly why these movements have been so important as of late. By giving examples of inappropriate behaviour and counting it as inappropriate behaviour, it begins to hold men accountable for their actions. The behaviour we’ve seen time and time again as branded ‘boys will be boys’ finally gets the boot that says ‘no, this is wrong, and no one should allow this to happen’. By suggesting other men should prevent this behaviour if they see it, it creates reinforcement that the behaviour shown is inappropriate. Behaviour women have been telling the world for years is inappropriate, needed a man to reinforce this message. People are listening, but they’re not fans.
The endless comments on the YouTube video show men claiming it to be “feminist propaganda” and suggesting that stepping in to prevent sexual harassment is stating that Gillette no longer want the business of “manly men”. If you think being manly includes being a bully and a sexual harasser, your issues go far beyond any advert. Gillette probably doesn’t want your business if you think that way.
The short film did gain some positive feedback from very few men, but those who supported the advert commented on its powerful message. “By eliminating excuses for bad behaviour, and supporting a new generation working toward their personal ‘best’, we can help create a positive change that will matter for years to come” says Gillette’s president, Gary Coombe. Gillette has partnered with the Building a Better Man project for this short film (which aims to reduce violent behaviour in men) to help induce a drop in male violent behaviour and suggest more positive behaviours for men of the future.
Gillette knew that its advertising would cause backlash. But even I’m shocked it caused as much backlash as it did. Admittedly, it’s by men who are trying to justify the behaviours shown in the advert
as appropriate, but which could be seen to be eerily similar to their own behaviours. But the fact is, this conversation needed to happen – it did. In my opinion, there’s no arguing that the behaviours seen in the short film are in any way healthy. The fact that there are so many who can’t see that these scenarios are problems is indicative of the change that is surely needed.
I’m not telling you that you need to wholeheartedly support this advert and give it all the press in the world (that would be ideal, but some people will always seek to find a problem). I am however telling you that if you don’t identify the behaviours seen in the advert as inappropriate or wrong, you are a part of this problem. This short film was designed specifically to call out these scenarios and show, without an ounce of sugar coating that these behaviours are unacceptable. You don’t have to buy Gillette for the rest of your life or post this advert to every social media platform. You just have to understand why these behaviours are wrong and see that the advert is doing the right thing – it’s discussing it. The world has a problem with discussing toxic behaviours in both women, but especially men. Gillette is holding people accountable. We all need to do this.
The advert had been watched over 2 million times on YouTube in 48 hours. Backlash and support aside, take what you will from this advert but understand Gillette’s point is valid. It may be hard to swallow for some people, but the message needs to be heard. 2019 is holding everyone accountable for their actions, and I’m glad for it. Nobody really likes an angry man.
By Tirion Davies