They say that any publicity is good publicity. But I wonder if Gillette had any idea of the extent of global reaction when creating their recent short film, We Believe: The Best Men Can Be?
A friend brought the film to my attention via Facebook and wrote a positive comment.
I watched the film and agreed that it is a great video, but I was really surprised at people’s reactions on YouTube – 1.1million dislikes and 617k likes. Over 1 million dislikes? What did I miss? To understand the differing perspectives, I spent some time reading the comments on YouTube and several articles written in response to the film. Wow, there’s a lot of passion in those comments!
There were articles encouraging men to boycott Gillette products because of their demeaning characterisation of men. Others accused Gillette for their portrayal of ‘toxic masculinity’.
When I first watched the video, completely unbiased by the brouhaha it had created, I saw a bunch of good men doing the right thing:
- a dad crossing the street with his son to save a young boy being chased down the road by a pack of bullies,
- a young man telling his mate it wasn’t cool to make lewd comments to a female walking past,
- a young dad standing in front of the mirror speaking words of affirmation and confidence into his pre-school age daughter,
- another dad separating a punch-up between two boys at a barbecue.
Wouldn’t you act the same if it were your son/daughter being chased, bullied, harassed or punched? Wouldn’t you want another good man to intervene if you weren’t present to protect your son, daughter, wife?
I don’t see any toxic masculinity amongst those scenarios. I see a celebration of good men doing the right thing, being role models for the next generation.
I’ve read the arguments from those waving around the research that rough play is an important part of boys’ development. I agree; I have boys and there are times when I let them go for it. But let’s be honest, we all know there’s a line, and when it’s crossed, it’s time to step in. The father at the barbecue let the rough play go on for a while, and I credit him the wisdom to know that the boys had crossed that line when he intervened; I didn’t see it as some sub-plot to feminise all boys.
Yes, the film shows an endless line of men in front of their barbecues mindlessly chanting ‘boys will be boys’, and it shows some inappropriate office behaviour. These mindsets should rightly be challenged. Again, if it was your wife that the boss kept touching during a team meeting, wouldn’t you want one of her colleagues to stand up and call out that behaviour in your absence?
So yes, the film shows men behaving poorly and it shows good men behaving valiantly. Nowhere did I get the message from Gillette that all men belong in the former category.
My question to men: Which group do you choose to identify with?
I choose to identify with the good men behaving valiantly and I’m glad someone created a short film to celebrate and encourage more of that, “because the boys watching today will be the men of tomorrow.”