Friday, January 25, 2019

Gillette: The Best A Man Can Get Ad: U Mad about This?

Gillette ruffled some feathers last week with an ad about masculinity, pointing out things that happen, like bullying, casual violence, and casual sexism - some obviously shitty things - suggesting that the excuse, "Boys will be boys" is not a good excuse, and encouraging men to 1. be less shitty, and 2. encourage other men to be less shitty, and 3. stop making excuses for shitty behavior by other men and boys. It ends with close-ups of some kids watching their dads stop other men and boys from being shitty, pointing out today's men are models for the men of the future, so our behavior teaches our kids to be shitty, or not shitty.

It has been hotly discussed in a number of places I frequent online, so I thought I'd put my thoughts in one place.

The ad itself... viewed on its own terms, without having it framed by someone who wants to rant about "SJWs" and the North American culture wars, or by someone who wants to rant about "Toxic masculinity"... isn't that controversial, really.

It's true that people make excuses for boys and men's bad behavior. It's true that some boys and men do shitty things. Among the behaviors identified, it's not controversial to identify these behaviors as shitty:
Groping women
Interrupting women
Patronizing or stealing ideas of female colleagues
Bullying smaller or weaker people with physical violence or verbal harassment
Treating women like trophies or toys

If someone is mad about the Gillette ad because they think the above behaviors shouldn't be criticized, they have much bigger problems than a men's grooming company telling them how to be decent human beings (most urgent: they aren't decent human beings).

Only slightly less slam-dunk obvious is the ad's emphasis on the excuse made for bad behavior: "Boys will be boys" (which is repeated by a whole lineup of men: this is pretty emphatic). I would guess that a lot of people who regularly say "Boys will be boys" will be surprised to hear it pointed out as troublesome. The ad posits a better response for men's shitty behavior than excuses: men stepping in to stop the shittiness.

But remove this from the "somebody is telling men how to behave" pearl-clutching, and again, it's not very controversial. Given a choice, I think most people would say that it's better to stop bad behavior than to make excuses for it.

Anyone disputing 1. that the behaviors above are bad, and 2. that correcting them is better than making excuses for them, definitely carries the burden of proof.

The most common complaint I've heard about the ad is that it's somehow claiming that ALL men are shitty... yet the ad clearly ALSO shows men stopping all the behaviors pointed out (except the man interrupting his female colleague while putting hand on her shoulder and restating her idea in his own words - he seems to get away with it).

So... not seeing that.

The "Woke Ad" thing