When I saw that Piers Morgan had been angered by Gillette’s ‘The Best Men Can Be’ campaign, tweeting: “Let boys be damn boys; let men be damn men,” I immediately thought of that photo of him asleep on a sunbed, laid out like a disappointing and deeply unappetising hog roast at a summer fete.
And that’s where my alternative advert begins. With Morgan’s disembodied voice echoing over that powerful image of masculinity, a pot-bellied antidote to “whiny PC-crazed snowflake imbeciles” who dare to pull on a pair of trousers and call themselves MEN, yet spurn their God-given right to be absolute fucking arseholes.
“Let men be damn men, I tell you!”
At this point in the ad, Morgan’s good friend Donald J. Trump swaggers into the scene. In protest at Gillette’s virtue signalling (and also because his hairless face – as soft as a skin tag on the underside of a stomach apron – requires no regular shaving), he snaps a SkinGuard Sensitive razor over Morgan’s solid alabaster stomach, leaving it slightly bloodied. As Morgan winces and stirs, Trump pathetically swings a leg at a nearby Gillette POS display, which says, somewhat ironically, “designed to stop irritation”.
Piers Morgan’s voice-over then kicks in, where he reminds us that Donald Trump is a MAN who’s spent his whole life just doing MAN things, like pretending to drive big rigs and staring directly at a solar eclipse and paying hush money to former Playboy models.
Trump is flying the flag for real men everywhere. Who else would have the clean-shaven cojones (using non-Gillette products) to launch frequent tirades against women, often denigrating their appearance, while a team of West Wing Photoshoppers work tirelessly to give him bigger hands and a slimmer waistline on campaign material? In fact, I’m legally obliged to tell you that Trump’s fingers are two inches longer than you’re currently imagining. Real MEN can still be terribly fragile things.
A tree stump is then wheeled into the scene and Don Jr. is gently lowered onto it to avoid sullying his box-fresh walking boots. He’s a MAN renowned for blowing away some of nature’s biggest dickheads: leopards, kudus, waterbucks, crocodiles – eat my lead! Only a MAN would have the decency to wipe a bloodied knife clean on his safari chinos before posing with a severed elephant’s tail. Anything less would have seemed indelicate. “Gillette’s soy boys wouldn’t have the grit to punch so much as a guinea pig in the face,” spits Morgan. “And can a Gillette razor leave your face as freakishly smooth as the Facetune app? I don’t think so!”
Jair Bolsonaro, nicknamed ‘Trump of the Tropics’, is another MAN filled with so much MANLY bile that he says he would be incapable of loving a gay son, preferring him “to die in an accident than show up with a moustachioed man”. Real MEN don’t have time to love their children unconditionally, mainly because they’re too busy despising the likes of, say, Willie Thorne.
And he gives it to women straight in a way that Gillette’s cucks are incapable of doing. “I wouldn’t rape you because you don’t deserve it!” said Bolsonaro to congress member Maria do Rosário in 2003, who no doubt cursed her rotten luck that she wasn’t one of the more deserving ones.
These men have reached the very TOP! Men of the world, these are your guys! If they’re looking good, you’re looking great! [The John Parr-esque library track then reaches a hernia-inducing crescendo before we fade to black.]
Let’s be honest, Piers Morgan’s “Let men be men” battle cry is just shorthand for “Let the old attitudes pervade”. (The same way that “Locker room talk” is shorthand for “I enjoy sharing chucklesome anecdotes of sexual assault with like-minded men wearing towels.”)
Some of the most powerful men in the world are vile pieces of shit. Trump alone – a man just being a man – is the bloated embodiment of misogyny, sexism, racism and intolerance, and an advocate of violence. It’s this kind of hideous alpha male bullshit that some men – not all, obviously – feel they can embrace because it appears, given the ‘strongmen’ in power around the world, to be a winning formula. It’s a blueprint that allows men to dominate.
A street-level example of ‘men being men’ is the YouTube comment that Juliukas101 posted on the famous Bodyform skydiving advert from the 1990s. He claimed the ad was “a load of feminist old cobblers” and questioned how believable it was for a woman’s sanitary product to remain locked firmly in place with “magic wings” when leaping out of a plane. It is, of course, more plausible than the idea that buying an overpriced razor will help men become gifted Wall Street traders, world-class sportsmen, or fucking astronauts.
Gillette’s new advert may be a bit clunky in places, but its basic message is: let’s be nicer, kinder human beings. And most importantly, let’s be positive role models for our children. What’s wrong with that?
The men who felt emasculated or under siege by Gillette’s advert missed the point. As Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King, tweeted: “This commercial isn’t anti-male. It’s pro-humanity.” Of course, if you’re an obnoxious, entitled prick who thinks that sexual harassment is harmless banter, or your balls visibly shrivel and you pulsate with white-hot rage when outmanoeuvred by any woman with superior intellect, then being offended by a marketing campaign is the least of your problems.
There’s a line in As Good As It Gets, when Melvin Udall, played by Jack Nicholson, tells Helen Hunt: “You make me want to be a better man.” It’s a killer compliment and a reminder that change is always possible; change for the better.