Bleats

Gillette's New Ad Starring A Trans Man Is Not For Diversity Points, It's Good Business

Hey, maybe this inclusivity thing will catch on!

Earlier this year Gillette decided to bring down the very foundations of civilised society – or, to put it another way, made an ad for their company.

The ad in question – ‘The Best Men Can Be’ – basically said to their predominantly male user base “hey, think of the example you set”.

And oh! the outcry! And oh! the promises from people that they would never ever ever ever buy a Gillette product again because suggesting that men be more responsible for and thoughtful about their actions is downright misandrist, for some reason.

And obviously Gillette were punished for their activist stance on whether men should be dicks or not by… um, absolutely no drop in sales in the aftermath.

And so now we come to their new advertisement:

The new video, featuring Canadian trans man Samson Bonkeabantu Brown, is similarly moving and poignant, showing a proud dad teaching his son to shave for the first time.

It’s something which cis men can easily relate to: learning to shave is a big deal as a teenager, and the anxiety about starting to develop facial hair too early or too late is very real. And for many of us it was a big deal when our dad showed us how it was done.

So watching this young man, whose transition has now reached the point where he’s growing facial hair, going through this rite of passage is another powerful reminder of just how similar people are.

And needless to say, there’s no shortage of reaction online demonstrating the sort of carefully reasoned, fact-based and well-expressed commentary which is the hallmark of frothing bigots on the internet.

However, this is all fine from the company’s perspective, because that’s how publicity works.

The angry Reddit community who (unsuccessfully) set out to make the previous ad the most disliked in history? That gave massive engagement numbers, which drove video shares and media attention.

In fact, all the evidence suggests that taking a firm stance on what masculinity means in 2019 has done nothing but help Gillette and set them apart from their competitors.

In fact, despite predictions, the follow up research showed that the ad was a hit – especially with women, who are far more engaged with the shaving (ahem) “conversation”. Short version of long data: men didn’t change their brand behaviour, even if they were supposedly furious about the virtue signalling, but women did.

So this new, inclusive, trans-visibility-enhancing ad might be genuinely admirable, but it’s also just smart business. It’s win-win!

Except for online bigots, but… actually, that seems like a bonus win.

Moby And Natalie Portman's Non-Relationship Is Uncomfortable But Not Unfamiliar

Hot tip: if the person you used to date didn't think you were dating, you weren't dating them.

Moby has just released the second volume in his autobiographical series and has attracted much interest with the hitherto-unknown tales of his short-lived relationship with Natalie Portman, back when she was 20 and he was 33. They went to parties, they kissed under oak trees, but after a few weeks she distanced herself and the great love story was not to be.

And this tale of celebrity love came as a bit of a surprise to everyone, including Natalie Portman.

She wasn’t aware that she was in a relationship with Richard Hall. She does, however, remember a musician in his thirties creeping on her when she was just 18, though.

“I was surprised to hear that he characterised the very short time that I knew him as dating because my recollection is a much older man being creepy with me when I just had graduated high school,” she told Harper’s Bazaar. “He was on tour and I was working, shooting a film, so we only hung out a handful of times before I realised that this was an older man who was interested in me in a way that felt inappropriate.”

Let’s face it, she’s no stranger to sex pests.

And Lordy, this isn’t uncommon with older men looking to up their stats regarding their sexual awesomeness. In fact, it isn’t even uncommon in the book – Lizzy Grant, aka Lana Del Rey, also refutes Moby’s claim that they dated.

Moby took this well. Sorry, I mean he decided to tell her that no, she was the one who was mistaken – about a great many things.

Oh, where to start?

Seeing Moby boasting – even in a self-deprecating way – about how dope he was about pulling gorgeous young women, especially young artists who would have been flattered by the attention of an established figure like himself – reeks of hideous insecurity mixed with a toxic entitlement.

But most of all, who the hell tells someone that they’re wrong about whether or not you were in a relationship?

Especially when everyone’s going to look at the debate and go “say, who has more cause to buillshit in this situation – the fading musician boasting about pulling young hotties, or the established actor who was barely an adult at the time?”

Apologise and move on, dude. Seems like you’ve already creeped her out plenty.

Bob Hawke Saved Countless Lives With His Action In The AIDS Crisis, And Put The Rest Of The World To Shame

When other countries were dithering, the Hawke Government took decisive action.

There are many reasons to celebrate the life and prime ministership of Bob Hawke – Medicare! Saving the Franklin! More than doubling high school retention rates! The Sex Discrimination Act! His uncompromising opposition to racism and support for non-discriminatory immigration! Protecting Antarctica from oil exploration! The National Parks system! – but there was one which might have gone overlooked and which saved countless Australian lives.

AIDS was probably already stalking Australia by the late sixties but escaped detection until the early 80s. And since the disease seemed to be largely confined to marginalised communities of gay men, sex workers and injecting drug users – groups which governments were generally happy to ignore, or occasionally demonise for easy political points – governments around the world were happy to drag their feet.

UK PM Margaret Thatcher refused prevention campaigns as being “in bad taste” and warned that then health minister Lord Fowler would be known as the “Minister for AIDS” if he kept making such a song and dance about it. In the US, the administration of Ronald Reagan’s response to the growing death toll was largely limited to making homophobic jokes.

‘They’re so swishy, am I right?”

In Australia, however, the response was very, very different.

Grassroots community groups snapped into action around the country, but it was the Hawke government that ensured that Australia would have a lower rate of HIV transmission compared with the rest of the western world by ensuring that the public health system worked with those groups to treat the epidemic as an urgent health issue rather than a moral punishment for people that were totally asking for it. And if anyone says that government never does anything to help people, this is a perfect comeback.

That was thanks to Hawke’s trust in his then-health minister, Neal Blewett, who fought pressure inside and outside the government to ensure funding for AIDS education, prevention, treatment and support.

Also, there was this ad:

We’ll never know how many lives were saved, but we can speculate on whether any of the subsequent PMs would have actively worked to address AIDS had it emerged under their watch.

Would the man who literally changed the marriage laws specifically to exclude same sex couples have leapt into action over a disease that largely affected gay men?

Would the Labor PMs that personally voted against marriage equality grasped the nettle? Can you imagine the Liberal leaders that oversaw the same sex marriage postal vote (including two who advocated for the No side and then scurried out of parliament to avoid voting on the actual legislation) leaping into action, including the one that took a day and a half to address the question “do gay people go to hell?”

Rest well, Bob. You earned it.

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