On Monday, the men’s shaving brand Gillette released a new commercial and social-responsibility initiative, and the internet had some feedback. The ad, which shifts Gillette’s longtime tagline from “The Best a Man Can Get” to “The Best Men Can Be,” is intended to mark the slogan’s 30th anniversary and reflect on the masculine ideals the razor purveyor has endorsed in the past and will demonstrate going forward.* It also promises million-dollar donations to nonprofits with related goals over the next three years, starting with the Boys & Girls Club of America.
Reactions were very mixed and very loud, even though the ad itself is pretty moderate and diverse in its depictions of male behavior. It features fictionalized scenes and clips from the news or viral videos. Some of the men depicted bully or sexually harass others, while other men are active parents and healthy conflict-resolvers. The spot’s voice-over ends by reminding viewers that what they do is important, because it sets an example for the next generation.
The campaign itself isn’t new—a related ad featuring the disabled NFL player Shaquem Griffin has been on the air for much of football season—but the debut of this new chapter sparked outrage among many conservatives online, who characterized the criticisms of masculine socialization as another round in what they see as a prolonged cultural attack on American men. One Twitter user threw his Gillette razor in the toilet, later clarifying that he did not flush. (His displeasure at the ad appeared to be genuine, even if his commitment to clogging his toilet was not.)