Gillette's Short Film On Toxic Masculinity Causes Backlash

There’s a high chance you’ve seen it: razor company Gillette’s new short film doesn’t do much in advertising the sleek blades of its high-quality razors, but rather sheds light on toxic masculinity and its role in the prominent age of “Me Too” movements. Toxic masculinity is defined as a rather exaggerated set of masculine traits, including violent, unemotional and sexually aggressive. Considering that Gillette’s main demographic of buyers is middle-aged men, there was an enormous amount of backlash regarding how they are “supposed to act” on a day-to-day basis. As of Jan. 26, the YouTube video has a ratio of 728K likes to 1.3M dislikes. As always, there are very strong opinions from those in support of the commercial and those who are highly against it.

The phrase “boys will be boys” is consistently reiterated throughout the ad, most explicitly as a group of fathers witness their sons brawling it out in the backyard. This phrase often is used to excuse a young boy’s violent or immature behavior. While holding girls accountable for their actions and expecting them to mature at a younger age, boys are given an extended window to act childish. While this may seem like a plausible excuse to some, it should be seen as an insult to others; this phrase can be viewed as condescending and, at times, a bit helpless to the male ideal that all boys care about is violence. Gillette tries to prove that the “alpha male” complex that is subconsciously expected of men in society can, in turn, fuel the aggression as they mature throughout their adolescence.

This is seen as the camera pans to a TV screen depicting numerous cases of sexual harassment, and how it became the butt of the joke in several comedic instances. It fuels to the mention of the highly controversial “Me Too” movement, which has similar undertones to the backlash of this commercial.

Gillette’s usual slogan, “The best a man can get,” is soon replaced by, “the best a man can be.” It takes a moment to showcase the “best men,” those redefining what it takes to “be a man,” by stopping the signs of early toxic masculinity seen in early childhood development. The phrase “be a man” is equivalent to saying “be stoic and suppress all your worries”; it teaches young boys to hide their feelings, which can lead to difficulty in expressing their emotions as they grow older. This can unfortunately lead to more aggression and violence due to a lack of development of interpersonal skills in a society.

Why some people dislike it:

Most of those offended by this commercial tend to feel targeted by the message that it is trying to send. Perhaps the intentions of Gillette were well thought out in regards to holding men accountable and respecting women, but maybe their portrayal of this message may have been taken as condescending. Of course, there are those who are quick to say, “not all men,” which is accurate considering that this commercial only shows a certain percentage of men who have unfortunately helped adopt the stigma that men are predatory and have no self-control. Most find that this collectivization significantly affects the impact of the lesson that Gillette was trying to each. Some customers even go as far as flushing their razors down the toilet.



Why some people love it:

Another large portion of viewers are completely in support of this commercial. They quickly shut down the “not all men” argument, claiming that if “not all men” was explicitly mentioned within the advertisement, then the small percentage of men who are actually targeted at can quickly excuse themselves from the moral of the advertisement. In the light of the “Me Too” movement, supporters praise Gillette for being aware of its large demographic of male customers and taking a political stance to hold them accountable. They believe that those who are quick to become angry unintentionally reiterate the concept of toxic masculinity.



Although Gillette’s intentions are good, the company itself may be a bit hypocritical. Did they miss the point? It’s rather strange that Gillette puts out an advertisement telling men to own up to their actions, but doesn’t own up to their vintage sexist advertisements. Some are expecting a woman’s version of this commercial, while others are continuing their support for the company.



As of right now, the advertisement has not drastically affected Gillette’s sales. However, it may be awhile before we get a strongly political commercial with polarizing opinions. 

Happy shaving!