In 2019, the popular razor brand Gillette released an ad that was meant to tackle toxic masculinity. Several men stood in front of the mirror looking at themselves, and in the background, news anchors talked about the #MeToo movement, bullying, and sexual harassment. "It's been going on far too long. We can't laugh it off. Making the same old excuses," the narrator of the commercial said. A group of dads stood around at a barbecue watching young boys rough playing in the grass. "Boys will be boys," the fathers robotically said to one another. In another scene, a woman sat in a meeting at an office full of men, and the male boss had just presumably said something inappropriate to her that is related to her gender. She looked embarrassed and disappointed.
"But some things have finally changed. And there will be no going back," the narrator continued. "Because we believe in the best of men. To say the right thing, to act the right way. Some already are. In ways big and small." The camera cut to a father breaking up two young boys playing in the backyard, then to another father who broke up a group of bullies from a small boy. The commercial ended by reminding us that the boys of the younger generation are watching what their fathers are doing, and that's why men need to set a good example.
This ad was widely talked about on social media, as it was released at the height of the #MeToo movement and a national conversation that railed against traditional masculinity. We were told that men's aggression is inherently dangerous, boys shouldn't be rough with each other, and it was sexist and misogynistic to tell a woman walking down the street that she was beautiful. When Gillette released this commercial, it didn't exactly go over well with consumers. The comments on the YouTube video made it clear that men weren't interested in this type of content.
"I love it when billion dollar corporations lecture me on how I should feel," one man said.
"Thanks Gillette because of this I switched razors and have never gotten a better shave," another wrote.
"You know it's 2019 when shaving cream gets political," someone said.
We live in an era when pretty much every one of the major corporations has shoved some kind of progressive political message down the throats of their consumers at some point, whether it's Oreo cookies, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, or Tampax tampons. People don't want to be preached at about some sort of social justice issue. They just want to buy their favorite products at a good price and feel and look their best. So when an old Gillette commercial resurfaced on Twitter, it got everyone talking about what masculinity used to look like before the intersectional agenda took over every mainstream machine in our society.
A Resurfaced Gillette Commercial from the 1990s Goes Viral and Reminds Us of What Masculinity Used to Look Like
The term toxic masculinity has encouraged men to set aside the very qualities that make them men, such as leadership, protection, provision, and even aggression. We've been told that women should have just much of a leadership role as men and should have just as many powerful jobs as men have (if not more). Men are told to step aside and let the women lead—because they have been in charge for long enough. We have even been told by Time magazine that the popular culture of men lifting weights is rooted in white supremacy.
That's why a retro Gillette razor ad from the 1990s has grabbed the attention of so many people online. It reminds us of what men used to be like, and what society used to encourage them to be like. In a 60-second clip, a montage of various men shows them participating in different activities of day-to-day life, with an inspirational soundtrack in the background. The lyrics of the song are, "You're looking sharp, you're looking good, you've come so far / We know how to make the most of who you are / Fathers and sons is what we've always done / Gillette, the best a man can get / We give you all we have to give for all a man can be / When the race is run, you're the champion."
The scenes include men running a race, lifting weights, playing soccer, surfing, and working long hours in an office. You can also see an elderly father embracing his son on the day of his wedding, a father happily bathing his infant son, a dad showing his son how to lift weights, and a man in a suit arriving at the airport to see his wife running into his arms. There's camaraderie between the men who work or play sports together and a tender relationship between husband and wife, as well as father and son. It's a heartwarming overview of what everyday life looks like for most men—work, family, physical activity, and friendship. It's simple. It's not at all political. It's very relatable. And most importantly, it's aspirational. These are the kind of accomplished, healthy men that have happy families and fulfilling lives, and that's what Gillette wanted their product to embody for their consumers.
This ad was less of a reflection on Gillette and more of a reflection of what our society looked like at that time. We were a culture that valued masculinity in the form of men who provided for their family, were physically healthy, and enjoyed working hard. Working out and being strong were once synonymous with being manly, but now these activities are actually discouraged among men by our society. This commercial also reveals how much our society valued marriage and fatherhood during this time period. In contrast, most ads today that are meant to target men are about single men who want to look good so they can land a woman at a bar or impress a group of women during a night out.
Many of the Twitter users who shared this video lamented the fact that this Gillette commercial displays the good ol' days, the days that we may never get back. "The world you grew up in no longer exists," @OldRowSwig tweeted. Many people responded and agreed, saying that they missed the days when men were celebrated and not told by society to change their ways and cater to feminist needs. The question remains whether we will ever return to the days of that Gillette commercial, and we probably won't. But we can always hope that the future will bring something different, especially since many people are waking up to the fact that the modernized progressive agenda has not served our society well over the last decade or so.