Abuse hurled at the Gillette advert, that by now you’ve seen or heard about, is largely directed at its creator Kim Gehrig, who has made more than one provocative “short film” about masculinity.
Australian born, London based Gehrig has wit and pathos in her work.
She made her name in commercials and music videos winning awards including Cannes Lions, D&AD pencils, BTAA arrows and the UKMVA music video award.
In the UK Lottery funded This girl can she shows that women can and do sweat when they exercise or do sport and points out that even if you "sweat like a pig", you can "feel like a fox".
Far more difficult to watch is You think you’re a man, in which a boy abused by his father and bullied by his peers grows up to be a misguided mirror image of his abusers.
Gehrig is a feminist. Her work challenges stereotypical mentality around gender roles that in a world rife with assault and abuse seems to always hit the nail on its head.
Gillette (a brand which let’s face it, didn’t need an advert to sell their razors) chose to stand for something when they took their 3 decades old tagline The best a man can get seriously.
The now viral advert, Gehrig directed for them, ‘The best a man can be’, addresses the Me Too movement, sexual harassment and age-old ideologies such as “boys will be boys.. If they play rough/ fight” etc. It is as Trendhunter puts it ‘brand commentary’: a top brands using their marketing efforts to join in on social and political conversations.
The message is clear, the boys of today will be the men of tomorrow.Therefore teaching that violence or a lack of respect for the opposite sex is not the “manly” thing to do is commendable. Gehrig should win awards.
The extreme amount of negative publicity ranging from ‘this is a war on masculinity’ to ‘she’s crazy’ shows just how toxic masculinity is.
In a statement from Procter & Gamble to the media,the company said the ad was designed to encourage men to be their best selves. The fact that so many can’t see that is more than disturbing.
Here’s an actual fact though: 60 000 women and children are victims of domestic violence in South Africa. (WHO)