In the last few days, the tables have been turned on Gillette, the world’s most famous name in razors. The company has been getting a very close shave from its customers. There isn’t a styptic pen in the world big enough to stanch the blood flowing from the myriad nicks they’re suffering as punishment for a short film ad they thought would capitalize on the #MeToo zeitgeist to good corporate effect. Until it went viral and got a gazilllion thumbs down.
The film, entitled “The Best Men Can Be” (a play on Gillette’s tagline, “The Best Men Can Get”), purports to address the problem of toxic masculinity. It opens with scenes of male misbehaviours: bullying, group wildness, paternalism and sexual predation. Then there is a shot of two boys fighting, with adult men—a lineup of men behind barbecues—watching and shrugging it off as “Boys will be boys.” Message: Most men consider negative male behaviour as normal and nothing to concern themselves with. Then we see a montage of TV news clips about sexual misconduct, and men watching with uneasy looks on their faces. Watching, I’m thinking, ‘Sure glad I’m not a man! Sure glad I am a member of a sex that is good!’
But wait, there’s more. The next part is full of “woke” men: men who were once oblivious to toxic masculinity, but then got enlightened, and consciously took steps to change their inherently bad ways. They became “good” men, who realize it is up to them to save normal bad guys from their own natures.
So in this segment, the good men tell bad men to be “accountable” for their actions. They step up and stop the bad guys before they get started on their gropey adventures. We see a series of guys being good friends, good fathers and good mentors to boys. It’s all very heartwarming. Message: If enough guys were accountable and stopped (most) men doing what they normally do—bad stuff—the world would be a better place. And you know why guys should be accountable? “Because the boys watching today”—here we see a cute white boy and a cute black boy looking innocently upward—”will be the men of tomorrow.” Sniff.
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What were they thinking in making this film? To find out, I climbed inside the head of the Vice-president for Communications who gave this film the go-ahead, and here is what I found:
Hey all you angry Twitter people, don’t look at me. I didn’t write this script. To be honest, it isn’t the sort of thing I would come up with. I mean, we’re in the razor business, right? We sell razors to men (and women too, but not as many). They don’t have to pass a purity test to buy our razors, know what I’m saying? Our razor packages don’t say, “not for use by rapists or bullies.” Our clients are just men. If anyone had asked me whether it was a great idea to slag our customer base with an expensive artsy film that has zero to do with razors, I would have said, probably not. But nobody asked me.
Anyway, what do I know? I’m retiring soon. Back in the day, we didn’t do fancy-pants “virtue-signalling,” which is a term I only recently learned. So this film got made because the women on our board told us we needed to get with the program. We needed a specialist in “social context” (whatever the hell that is.) So we hired this young woman—very sharp, very definite in her opinions—who used to teach Gender Studies. She was very keen on this film, and kind of wore us down until we said yes.
I’m sorry the film made it look as though we at Gillette think being a guy means you’re automatically bad, or predisposed to be bad if someone doesn’t step in and stop you. That’s honestly not the case. We made this film because we were told the feminists would love it, and we were told men are so used to seeing themselves portrayed as asshats, they wouldn’t notice how insulting it is.
Believe me, the president and the board are in shock that so many men did notice. (And lots of women are angry about it too, which is kind of puzzling, since the film makes it look like it’s only men who do bad things. Go figure.) The only good thing to come out of this mess from my point of view is that the “social context” woman hasn’t come into the office the last few days.
The thing about big corporations getting all preachy with people is that nobody with half a brain believes these sermons come from the heart. Nobody with half a brain really believes corporation honchos sit around brooding about social injustice. Everyone knows it’s all about reading the public tea leaves to increase sales and that whole “I’d like to give the world a coke” jazz is pure hot air posing as sincerity and soul. But at least the Coke ads don’t attack their own clients.
So now we have a lot of angry clients who are ditching us as their purveyor of fine razors and choosing other equally good purveyors of fine razors (which is not rocket science to produce), but it gets worse. Some people are poking around to find ways to embarrass us. It is also not rocket science to discover that Gillette is owned by Proctor and Gamble. It would be kind of awkward if someone were to make a point out of the fact that P&G are one of the world’s biggest users of Palm Oil, which most people don’t know is—here’s a little “social context” for you—not a good thing, ecologically speaking.
Because among other things, Palm Oil is used in the manufacture of a class of chemicals known as surfactants (Surface Active Agents). They’re used extensively in cleaning products as they are very effective in both getting oils and water to mix in a formulation and they are the key ingredient in cleaning (since they are active on the surface, or where the dirt is), and make the products foam and bubble.
P&G is huge in personal care products (foam, bubble) and, with Unilever, is perhaps the largest user of Palm Oil in the world. They will tell you they used “Responsible Palm.” That’s bullshit. That’s like saying “Clean Coal.” To farm palm oil, they clear cut and then literally burn the rainforest (to remove any indigenous seed) to put up palm oil plantations. There are videos that explain all this.
Anyway, P&G better hope nobody makes a thing out of this. Because it then lays Gillette open to a charge of, you know, hypocrisy? Like “oh we care sooo much about male accountability and making the world a better place for women,” but our parent company doesn’t care about wrecking the freaking rain forests? The optics are not good here is all I am saying. So let’s hope nobody goes there!
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