Shannon Green: Gillette commercial backlash proves men need more hugs
Gillette made a commercial asking men to take the lead in showing more empathy and compassion toward mankind — which makes sense when you consider that historically, the entire default of American society including our language and laws were set by and for white men.
This rubbed thousands of men and even some women, including “The View” co-host Megan McCain, the wrong way.
Some said it was an attack on traditional masculinity, which McCain in a roundabout way described as liking guns and fighting. Some said it cast blame on all men — even though the commercial pointed out that there were good men doing positive things.
Several people just didn’t like that a shaving company delivered a message about social responsibility. Shaving companies, some said, shouldn’t have stances. Except, that selling views is why the entire advertising and marketing industry exists. Starbucks isn’t just selling you $6 coffee, it’s selling culture.
In the dark ages, cigarette companies used to sell people on the idea that smoking was healthy and dishwasher soap companies sold the idea that only women belonged in the kitchen “fighting greasy pots and pans.”
That is, until an 11-year-old Meghan Markle, the future Duchess of Sussex, lobbied for sexist commercials like that to end. As a result, Proctor and Gamble changed the word “women” to “people.”
There is a long and storied history about this industry and hidden messaging.
Gillette’s message was out in the open for everybody to see and it was positive.
I have no more problem with Gillette’s broad messaging about social responsibility than I did when the company used UCF alum and Seattle Seahawks linebacker Shaquem Griffin to sell a message about overcoming adversity.
That’s just good advertising.
The majority of the responses were positive. But several people registered the message as an assault on manhood, commercialism and, yes, even Republicans.
But a Facebook comment from a poster who called himself Matthew Thomas Novak and identified himself as 47 years old got to the heart of the issue. He said the commercial added to the “pussification” of the American male.
The same Facebook account also showed a meme of a woman’s backside with the following words: “Money can’t buy you happiness but hookers and coke don’t make me sad either.”
For extra context, the commenter shows him in the “traditional masculinity” garb, a camo hat and rifle.
But I don’t want to lambast this comment for its crude and vile commentary like so many others did. Honestly speaking, the commenter and men like him really need a hug and some therapy.
According to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men represent 77 percent of the estimated 45,000 suicides in America every year. Middle-aged white men account for the highest suicide rate among all racial groups.
ABC created an entire series called “A Million Little Things” based on the suicide of one man — not long, in fact, after Anthony Bourdain’s suicide shocked the world last year.
I think a lot of men who struggled with this commercial could be struggling with something much deeper.
Remember, Gillette didn’t solely focus on men being better advocates for women.
It also depicted a young boy crying and being consoled by his mother. It also showed two instances of dads breaking up fights among boys.
The commercial used the vehicle of the “MeToo” movement to further a larger discussion about emotional well-being and empathy.
Don’t miss the entire forest for a few burning trees here.
Culture is shifting and younger generations are growing up with the understanding that it is OK to cry and be strong.
Men and women are speaking out about sexual assault with Terry Crews, who is featured in the commercial, serving as a brave example. More men are taking on the heroic fight women have been waging for decades on time management between career and kids.
These are intimidating times for older traditionalists and younger men with similar mindsets because they were raised by stoic fathers and mothers who pushed unhealthy narratives about manhood.
But times are changing and if you want to be a better man and in, some cases, alive in 2019, it’s time you stop fighting and start healing.