Shaving company Gillette’s striking new campaign about ending toxic masculinity debuted yesterday on YouTube, and in less than 24 hours, it has garnered more than 5 million views — as well as hundreds of thousands of dislikes and a tidal wave of negative comments from YouTube users.
A voiceover in the ad (below) invokes Gillette’s company slogan, asking, “Is this the best a man can get? Is it?” as clips roll showing young boys bullying each other and men exhibiting a host of common toxic behaviors (like catcalling women, groping them, talking over them in work meetings, and telling them to smile). There are also clips condemning the common “boys will be boys” excuse for those toxic behaviors, and clips highlighting the anti-sexual harassment #MeToo movement. And Gillette appears to call itself out, too, for old ads with women whose only purpose in them was to drop a kiss on the freshly-shaven cheek of their male stars.
The campaign also features Ana Kasparian, one host of the YouTube-based political commentary channel The Young Turks, and actor Terry Crews, who went public last year about his own experiences being sexually harassed by a fellow man in Hollywood. Crews has been campaigning for men to “hold other men accountable,” as he says in the footage Gillette included in the spot.
“We believe in the best in men,” the ad goes on. “To say the right thing. To act the right way. Some already are.” It rolls dramatized clips of men stopping other men and boys from bullying each other, and from ogling women and filming them without their permission. Clips of viral videos are included too, like one showing a father holding his young daughter in front of the mirror, encouraging her to say, “I am strong.”
The ad directs users to a campaign page with a statement from Gillette pledging to “actively challenge the stereotypes and expectations of what it means to be a man.”
At posting time, the video is No. 3 on YouTube’s Trending page. It’s also circulating heavily on Twitter, where it has earned 9.53 million views, 206,000 likes, and 85,000 retweets in 24 hours. Unlike Twitter, YouTube has a negative reaction button as well as a “like” button. And on YouTube, while the ad has 106,000 likes, it also has nearly 400,000 dislikes. That’s certainly a less-than-ideal like-to-dislike ratio, but a quick look at the video’s comments section sheds some light on exactly why some viewers think Gillette deserves a thumbs-down.
Here are some of the most-liked comments:
“Way to go, Gillette, you’ve been brainwashed.”
“Masculinity is BEAUTIFUL and to be celebrated, not criticised. Screw you, Gillette!”
“JEWS AGENDA. FEMINIZATION. JEWS AGENDA. FEMINIZATION. FEMIFASCISM. WAKE UP MEN.”
“Okay so Gillette […] you’ll have to start making razors for the people who you are pandering to: feminists. But wait, they don’t shave, so there goes that plan.”
“Amazing how all the ‘toxic’ males in the ad are white.”
“Wow, how original. Just another company pandering to the SJW [social justice warrior] crowd to earn a quick buck instead of caring about real problems and acting surprised when they receive backlash.”
“This is insulting, politically motivated, quota-fulfilling, condescending liberal tripe. I will switch to a brand that actually sells razors and not propaganda.”
If you’re sensing a theme here, you’re not alone.
Gillette: Men, please do your best to treat others with respect
Men: COME AT ME BRO SAY THAT SHIT TO MY UNSHAVEN FACE
— Lauren Duca (@laurenduca) January 15, 2019
It is WILD that Gillette can make an ad about how men can stand up for one another, guide and support each other to help make the world better and less fearsome, and then dudes are like HOW DARE YOU CRITICIZE MEN pic.twitter.com/bQNragUArf
— Mike Rugnetta (@mikerugnetta) January 15, 2019
A spokesperson for Gillette told CNBC, “We expected debate — discussion is necessary. For every negative reaction, we’ve seen many positive reactions, people calling the effort courageous, timely, smart, and much-needed. At the end of the day, sparking conversation is what matters. This gets people to pay attention to the topic and encourages them to consider taking action to make a difference.”
You can see the campaign below.