To cleanse the palate, it’s moments like this that make me pine for the rugged masculine bravado of the Gillette ad.
To make the point that vegetarianism isn’t effeminate I might have tried interviewing a few vegetarian soldiers instead of convincing some nerd to strap on a zucchini and dance for the camera. But maybe PETA has given up on fighting that stereotype. It’s indestructible, after all. The only thing left to do is embrace it and have fun with it. That’s the only explanation I can come up with for why they chose to make their point here with a bunch of doughy schlubs as actors instead of muscleheads. You’re not going to convince anyone earnestly that salads = virility. Might as well play it entirely for laughs.
Although they have tried earnestly elsewhere. Quote: “A psychologist might say a man needs counseling if he tries to prove his manhood by gunning down a 2-pound bird or killing a struggling fish.”
See now why they went with the zucchini-dong sight gag instead?
This ad was not an attack on masculinity. The only explicit reference to any kind of masculinity is at the beginning when the voiceover refers to toxic masculinity…
The ad then encourages men to be the best they can be and shows ways they can do so, from stepping in to stop bullying to calling out inappropriate behavior to being supportive fathers actively raising kind and confident children.
These actions — which show empathy, protector status, moral integrity, and the courage and strength necessary to do the right thing — are the embodiment of traditional masculinity and should be encouraged.
True, the ad doesn’t target any male behavior which most people would call virtuous. There is some behavior targeted, though, like catcalling or boys being allowed to rough-house that many would call “traditional” for good or ill. I think the worry is that the culture will over-correct in response to the #MeToo moment by elevating what’s seen as “venial sins” of masculinity to mortal ones. (If you share the opinion that catcalling is no big deal, google around for many, many arguments to the contrary.)
What really bugs people is simply the fact that a razor company would choose to engage on these terms. The ad is fine on its own. The idea of being hectored on social consciousness about masculinity when you’re trying to buy farking toiletries is less fine. Especially if you’re a political activist or a news junkie, you feel bombarded by this kind of scolding 24/7. Can we not have a reprieve even with respect to bathroom activities? Do I need to make sure the toilet paper I’m using is woke before wiping? If I’m to be nagged about masculinity, I’d rather it be by a feminist sincerely committed to the cause than by some corporation’s garbage ad team that’s calculating it’ll be good for profits.
Your exit quotation comes from Bridget Phetasy: