Gillette recently released an advertising campaign title "We Believe." There are two versions of this commercial up on YouTube - a 30 second TV spot and a 2 minute short film. If you have not seen either of these videos, I would recommend watching the longer version as it does a better job of getting the point of the commercial across. You can watch the video below.
What exactly is the point of this video? That is where the videos controversy lies; at the time of writing this, both videos had a combined 312k upvotes and 758k downvotes on YouTube. There were those who were praising this commercial and those who were condemning this commercial.
The three most popular sides of the controversy seem to be :
- Gillette is telling men to step up and be positive role models for the next generation of men instead of allowing the caricatures of men a generation had seen in media, which lead to the normalizing of these awful behaviors, to set the standard for what it means to be a man; using "boys will be boys" is not an acceptable reason for sexual harassment, bullying, and fighting.
- Gillette is insulting the men who do not have to step up, because they are already being positive role models for the next generation of men, by grouping them together with those who have acted in a manner contrary to what it truly means to be a man; there were men before the #MeToo movement who were positive role models and who did not believe that sexual harassment and bullying were acceptable.
- Gillette is overstepping their boundaries as a razor company by giving us an advertisement which does not sell a razor but attempts to enter the realm of socially aware advertising.
All sides would agree that Gillette is attempting to address what it means to be a man and hopes to inspire men to act like men.
Plenty of digital ink has been spilled either praising or condemning this ad, so I will not try to take up any of these previous arguments but rather offer three of the thoughts I have had regarding this ad.
First, Gillette called out the media (kinda). While the words of the ad were directed towards men, they acknowledged in their "its been going on for far too long" montage that sexual harassment was portrayed as normal male behavior in movies, television shows, and music. The responsibility to raise the next generation of men and women should not come from the media, but from positive role models around them. Hollywood usually portrays itself as the hero, often forgetting the role that it played in creating and enabling this problem.
Second, from most of the arguments I have seen from either side - they both agree that sexual harassment and bullying are bad. With the rise of social media we have had numerous changes in the way we interact with people; one of those changes is that we now listen to react verses listening to understand - I read something on social media and I am immediately given the option to respond. Do I like this? Do I have a comment? Instead of sitting and pondering what you have read, you need to have an immediate reaction so you can move on to the next item and not fall behind on the latest trends.
Third, regardless of your thoughts on whether or not Gillette did a noble thing in this ad, I think we could all agree on the importance of positive role models. For Christians, this realization should not come primarily from culture but from reading the Bible. The Bible has an incredibly high view of humanity: we have been created in the image of God (Gen 1:27) and crowned with glory and honor (Ps 8:5). Throughout Scripture we see the elevating of women in a culture which did not view them as important (Ruth, Esther, Prov 31, Luke 24:9-10), we see a call for men to respect and love their wives like Christ loves the Church (Eph 5:25), we see a call to do away with, among other sins, sexual immorality, slander, and filthy language (Col 3:5-10), and to treat others as we would want to be treated (Matt 7:12); in their ad Gillette says that something changed with the #MeToo movement - Gillette is right that something changed in culture, but the Scripture's standards for a person's character was already there (the #ChurchToo movement shed light on the fact that terrible evils have happened in the church as well; if you experienced this evil, I hate that something so heinous was done in what should have been a safe place and I pray for God's justice to be done).
The Bible calls Christians to a high character standard, as their character is to bring God glory (1 Cor 10:31, Matt 5:16, 1 Pet 1:14-15); the Bible is honest that we are unable to do this without being saved through the blood of the Lamb and empowered through the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:11-14, 1 Cor 6:11, Eph 2:1-10). Christian, whether you rejoiced when you saw this commercial or were outraged we can all agree that your standard for how you live and treat other people should not come from a convicting commercial or a trending hashtag; it does not come from culture, it comes from Christ.
Whether you viewed the Gillette commercial and were inspired or offended or indifferent, may you follow the Holy Spirit's leading and guiding as He conforms you into the image of Christ (Rom 8:29, 2 Cor 3:28); it is His voice, not the voice of culture, which leads us closer to Christ. There may be times when we hear the faint echo of the Spirit in culture, but let us be wary of equating the two.
Do not be a positive role model just because an ad tells us we should be, but because of who Christ calls us to be.
It is Christ, not Gillette, that is the best a man can get.
This post originally appeared on "When I Have a Second"