“Everyone” is talking about the new Gillette ad above. It is cynical, manipulative in sinister ways, unfair, insincere, divisive, unfair, and wrong. Over at Reason, the usually rational Robby Soave was sucked in (as was Ann Althouse, who said the little boys at the end moved her to tears—Awwwww!) defending the ad:
But the ad never said that all men are bad. It never argued that masculinity is always and everywhere a dangerous ideal. It made a very modest statement—treat people better—in hopes of selling more razors to people who agree. Again, why is this bad?…Young guys need to learn from men who treat women well and act as protectors rather than victimizers, which…is exactly what the Gillette ad called on men to do. People are free to associate with whatever brand they want, so if Gillette’s so-called virtue signaling bothers someone that much, that person may go ahead and buy razors elsewhere. But it would be a shame if the right started boycotting companies for taking the position that maybe hurting people is bad. Is owning the libs really that important?
Sucker! I am heartened that the ad has generated overwhelmingly negative responses, and while I would never call for a boycott (I use electric razors, thanks), I would still love to see Gillette suffer for this naked virtue-signaling and insulting stereotype mongering, all while pretending to “care,” when in fact it is just a cynical tactic to create buzz. I hope the eventual buzz is the sound of Remington electric razors.
Jon Gabriel’s reaction was similar to mine:
Gillette has had a rough few years. The former shaving hegemon has seen its market share plummet due to a resurgence in classic “wet shaving,” online razor subscription services, and the popularity of beards. Gillette’s obvious options are to lower their artificially high price or drastically improve their quality. Instead, they’ve decided to make their remaining customers feel bad about themselves through an expensive new ad campaign…. “You’re a very bad person, give us money” is an odd marketing pitch, especially from a company that’s used sex to sell its product for decades…Gillette has now declared war on its customer base. [Quoting the Wall Street Journal]
Gillette parent Procter & Gamble Co. is among companies that in recent years have used advertising as a platform to promote their stance on social issues such as gender equality, and polarizing political topics such as immigration and gun control. P&G is perhaps best known for its lauded “Like a Girl” ad campaign for feminine-care brand Always and “Stress test” for deodorant brand Secret.
Promoting social issues can be effective marketing, but notice the difference. P&G’s female-directed ads make women feel better about themselves. The company tells women “you’re great just as you are” and tells men “you’re bad and need to change.”
“Why is this bad?” asks sensitive Robby. Ah, let me count the ways:
1. The ad is offensive in the same way the various “We’re glad you’re our neighbor” (‘…unlike the racist, xenophobes in the neighborhood, and you know who THEY are…’) signs aroung my neighborhood are. They are grandstanding proclamations of virtue that by their very existence presume wrongdoing is rampant. It’s fear-mongering; it’s insulting hyperbole.
2. The ad is also pandering to the #MeToo mob, and its presumption that any accusation of sexual misconduct by a woman about a man must be believed because, well, you know what men are like. The problem is that most men are not like Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Matt Lauer and Roger Ailes. Moreover, men who bully, harass and behave like jerks frequently are confronted by their more ethical peers. I know I’ve done it, but I haven’t had to very often. I was raised to respect women by a father who learned from his father’s horrible example. I raised my son to respect women because I learned from my father’s excellent example. Who is a greedy razor blade company to lecture me about what men should be like?
3. The set-up is all anti-male stereotypes. (A guy grilling! The Horror!) Girls, of course, are notorious bullies; indeed, the worst reported cyber-bullying episodes have had girls at their center. Why is bullying portrayed as a uniquely male behavior? The cartoon portraying a “wolf whistle” is a flagrant anachronism. When was the last time you heard a man whistle at a woman, except in a 1930’s movie? I’ve NEVER heard a wolf whistle in an entire life. I know of one former employee who pinched women in the workplace, and he was almost seventy, and got himself fired. I had an uncle who was salacious around teenage girls, and my sister humiliated him, in public, so he never tried that crap in our house again. Yes, there are rude, sexist, predatory men. Normal men do not respect, emulate or tolerate them, for the most part. We do not need Gillette…
…to teach us not to think of women as eye-candy and sexual play-things.
3. The commercial is cowardly and dishonest. African-Americans are only shown as the rescuers and admirable men, though black culture has a serious problem with absent fathers, poor make role models, and domestic abuse.
4. “Boys will be boys” is indeed often a rationalization for bad conduct. It is also a crucial and correct observation when teachers, especially female teachers, and other adults expect boys to act like polite, cautious, submissive little girls, and punish young males as they try to learn how to be men. My son liked, and likes, guns, cars, fast cars, slapstick humor, violent films (but good ones) video-games and, yes, grilling meat. A lot of woke women call this “toxic masculinity.” He has nothing to be ashamed of, and being a boy, and now a young man, who likes those things is not a societal problem. Women trying to represent maleness as a societal malady, however, is a huge societal problem.
5. The ad is “piling on.” The New York Times hired an editor who repeatedly has stated in public that white men are a plague on society, and Gillette thinks that endorsing her position is societal responsible.
6. In this environment, the ad is partisan. Despite a few doomed males who have thrown their futile hats in the ring, the Democratic Party has made its anti-male agenda and gender biased position clear and inescapable. Gillette thinks signaling that it too regards men as dangerous, unthinking pigs who can’t be trusted with leadership or responsibility is a winning message.
Let me conclude with some tart comments from Ann’s blog, taking her to task for swallowing this anti-male propaganda:
The ad is sexist as fuck, Ann, and you won’t admit it.
Nothing is more offensive to me, as far as societal issues go, than using the phrase “boys will be boys” as a pejorative.
-Boys, in their natural state, are bad.
-Boys cannot be boys in a healthy society.
It infuriates me.
I’ll propose a thought experiment. Assume Gillette put out the same ad, but it’s a lineup of African American men and the ad harps on their disproportionate participation in violent crime and asks them to be better. How do you think that ad would go over?
Serious question. Do women tune out nagging? Men do, a skill learned young.
Women likely purchase most shaving products so this ad is targeted towards them. Men don’t tell their women about the fights they broke up, the young men they help mature. Definitely not the dangers they face. Mostly because they don’t want to hear the nagging.
Obviously the ad is targeted at women. To target an ad at men you would describe the manufacturing process to produce sharp edges. How they solved the technical problem of a comfortable shave.
But no, it is all about people, resolving conflict. All that is missing is the swooning woman falling into the arms of her hero. A bodice ripper without the bodices.
For men it is more nagging.