Social Change Meets Big Business

Kiersten Hacker, Staff Writer

Characterized by constant controversy, the media saw yet another with the release of a short film about four months ago by Gillette, who took of their marketing platform to discuss social issues. Although the campaign debuted a while ago, the message is relevant to society every single day. Their slogan, “A Best a Man Can Get,” rounded its 30th anniversary, and they decided to change it to “The Best A Man Can Be,” questioning the behavior and stereotypes of men that have existed for ages but only recently are being called into question. Instantly, some people felt attacked, and felt as though social commentary is unnecessary from a large razor and shaving cream corporation. Pictures and comments of men criticizing Gillette’s claims about toxic masculinity instantly plagued the internet attempting to disprove the film asking them to be better men. Just as some people boycotted Nike after they endorsed Colin Kaepernick, some have been destroying their razors, throwing them out, or refusing to ever buy their products again. Men and women everywhere were outraged and curious as to why a shaving cream company needs to tell men how to act.

The “commercial” is more of a short film featuring clips of boys bullying others, men catcalling, sexual harassment and the #metoo movement, and gender inequality in business and television; it attempts to undermine the famous phrase “boys will be boys.” Opening with a commercial featuring their own slogan, a mob of young men physically tear through it and begin chasing their peer intending to hurt him and bully him, leading to all the other stereotypical actions. Emphasizing men holding each other accountable and calling out each others’ wrongdoings, an example is set for young boys watching in the distance, something so important for us to do. “Boys will be boys” is not a liable excuse for lack of self control; we must hold each other accountable and responsible. If children are consistently taught stereotypes, there will be no room for change. We cannot have equality for women until men join their efforts as well. Everyone needs to fight for equality, otherwise it’s not equality, it remains as one group. The video also addresses toxic masculinity, a topic which seemed to produce the largest reaction from the public, including feelings that a company should not judge our actions.

But why does a shaving cream company need to tell us to act like human beings? Why is it that we become more self aware every time something rapidly breaks out in the media rather than when important leaders, organizations, and government officials make strides in their fights for equality? Awareness is spread quickly, but action is taken slowly, that is if the issue is not forgotten by the end of the day. Yes, the job of Gillette is to sell us consumers shaving cream and razors, not to reform age-old social systems of human interaction. However, seeing an ad of this nature in mainstream media introduces a vital and interesting conversation. It is not the job of big business to fix a broken system, but is important to see more companies or even celebrities using their platform to their advantage and focus on social reforms. Rather than placing sales at the primary focus, it is essential that issues like this can be seen by everybody in the mainstream media, fostering a social environment for a more humanitarian focus. It is the agenda of the people in the 21st century to finally achieve the equality we’ve been waiting on for centuries.

The fight for equal rights is a deeply rooted issue through systems that have been in place for ages, but if all people, international corporations and small businesses, mainstream media and the average consumer, no matter what race, gender, or sexual orientation contribute to the movement, a better society will finally be reached. And this is something very idealistic: ending the world’s worst issues, achieving world peace, ending starvation, these are  things we may never see in the existence of Earth. But if we take small steps and unite for equality, we will be closer to a more understanding, loving, and happier standard of living. Social norms and stereotypes do not have a place in our world as human beings. So lastly, challenge yourself, be the best you can be.