Two boys roughhouse as a group of dads and other boys watch on, muttering "boys will be boys." A man walking with a small boy witnesses a group of bullies chasing another boy down the street. A mom comforts her crying son as he's cyberbullied for being a "sissy."
These powerful scenes of everyday toxic masculinity are just a few from the wave-making new advertisement from shaving brand Gillette that might resonate with parents. The one minute and 48 second spot posted to Gillette's social media accounts is called "We Believe," and proposes a new slogan to replace the 30-year-old tagline "The Best A Man Can Get."
"The Best Men Can Be" campaign challenges men "to say the right thing, to act the right way," Gillette explains on its YouTube channel.
"The boys watching today will be the men of tomorrow," a narrator explains after some of those original scenes are revisited. This time, a dad steps in to break up the fight between the boys and explain we don't treat others that way; the man walking with his son chases after the bullied boy and asks if he's OK.
The commercial ends with the young boys watching these role models intently ... and the collective sobs of parents everywhere (probably).
"Thirty years ago, we launched our The Best A Man Can Get tagline. Since then, it has been an aspirational statement, reflecting standards that many men strive to achieve," Gillette explains on its website.
"But turn on the news today and it's easy to believe that men are not at their best. Many find themselves at a crossroads, caught between the past and a new era of masculinity. While it is clear that changes are needed, where and how we can start to effect that change is less obvious for many. And when the changes needed seem so monumental, it can feel daunting to begin. So, let's do it together."
The ad also features audio of news about the #MeToo movement, and shows men stepping in to stop other men from catcalling women or telling other women to smile.
People are both applauding and boycotting the commercial
Many are applauding Gillette for the message that men should hold each other accountable, but others have threatened to boycott the shaving company ... which has plenty of people on social media saying this is why we need this commercial in the first place.
— 📎Lesley-Ann Brandt (@LesleyAnnBrandt) January 15, 2019
Fantastic ad and more of this is needed.
Also...seeing "men" boycott Gillette are proving the point of the ad. Way to NOT be the best man you can be, guys. https://t.co/Q4XPqt2NLw
— Cat Staggs 🏳️🌈 (@CatStaggs) January 14, 2019
Gillette's new campaign comes days after the American Psychological Association (APA) released recommendations specific to the issues of boys and men for the first time in its 127-year history. One of its most important messages was about how traditional masculinity can hurt boys.
"Traits of so-called 'traditional masculinity,' like suppressing emotions & masking distress, often start early in life & have been linked to less willingness by boys & men to seek help, more risk-taking & aggression -- possibly harming themselves & those with whom they interact," the APA tweeted about the new guidelines.
Previous studies have shown that boys need more emotional support than girls, that boys who conform to gender stereotypes are more prone to substance abuse and suicide, and experts have noted that feeling ashamed of their feelings decreases a boy's ability to be empathetic.