‘Because the boys watching today will be the men of tomorrow’
Have you seen the new Gillette commercial geared toward men that addresses bullying, toxic masculinity, sexual harassment and the #MeToo movement?
The commercial, which debuted Jan. 14 on social media, shows boys fighting while adults look on, saying “boys will be boys,” instances of bullying, clips of sexual harassment and more, while the narrator asks, “Is this the best a man can get?”
The narrator continues by saying, “Something has changed and there is no going back,” while showing news clips of current events of sexual harassment and more.
“Men need to hold other men accountable,” Terry Crews, actor, activist and former NFL player, says as a clip is shown of Crews speaking about the Sexual Assault Survivors Rights Act.
“We believe in the best in men,” the narrator says. “To say the right thing, to act the right way. Some already are – in ways big and small. But some is not enough.
“Because the boys watching today will be the men of tomorrow.”
Featured in this commercial is Atlantic City resident Ibn Ali Miller breaking up a fight in 2017 and asking the boys to shake hands.
Critics say the commercial talks down to men and is insulting. Some say Gillette should stick to razors and shaving cream and stay out of politics. Some say they will now boycott Gillette and its parent company, Proctor & Gamble.
According to a Popbuzz Network Internet poll, the commercial has received 283,000 dislikes and 50,000 likes.
Of the likes, comments on social media thanked Gillette for the message, including, “Be a good human is getting ever-more commercially viable. I’m down with a future where it’s cool to be protective and proactive at making the world better.”
Responding to the nasty comments, one male said, “If there was ever any question as to how necessary the overall message is, read these comments and look at all the guilt. ... Well done. With any luck, the sons of these insecure commentators will see this Gillette ad and finally receive the positive messaging their fathers are likely neglecting to deliver. A shaving cream and razor manufacturer is doing your parenting for you.”
Pankaj Bhalla, North America brand director for Gillette, told The New York Times in a Jan. 15 article, the controversy was not the intended goal of the ad, which is part of a larger campaign that takes a look at redefining Gillette’s longtime tag line, “The Best a Man Can Get,” in different ways.
While he doesn’t want to lose sales or create a boycott over the ad, “We would not discourage conversation or discussion because of that,” he said.
“Our ultimate aim is to groom the next generation of men, and if any of this helps even in a little way, we’ll consider that a success,” Bhalla said.
Many years ago, kids were being bullied in a ball pit at a local kids’ attraction in Allentown. I saw the behavior and looked around for someone from the staff to intervene and get the bully out of the ball pit. No one was around. I didn’t want to leave the area because my kid was in the ball pit. After some time, I finally intervened and told the bully to get out of the pit. I suppose he thought I was someone of authority because he got out. Where were his parents? And why, while many other parents, male and female were watching, was I the only one who said something?
Viewers will take whatever message they want from this commercial and twist it to fit their politics and philosophies.
I will choose to take the message that it is time to step up and protect our children, teach them how to be kind and respectful and explain how words and actions can affect those around them.
I want my sons to be the men who step up, say the right thing and act the right way. And I am sure parents want their daughters to be with these kinds of men.
At the end of the ad, the narrator says, “It’s only by challenging ourselves to do more that we can get closer to our best. We are taking action at thebestmencanbe.org.”
Is there anything wrong with challenging ourselves, male or female, to be the best we can be?
Debbie Galbraith edits the East Penn Press and the Salisbury Press for the LV Press organization.