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Gillette’s Ad Proves the Definition of a Good Man Has Changed

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Once again, the country seems divided. This time, it’s not a border wall or a health care proposal driving the animus, but an online ad for a men’s razor, because, of course. But underneath the controversy lies something much more important: signs of real change.

On January 13, Gillette released a new ad that takes the company’s 30-year-old slogan, “The Best a Man Can Get,” and turns it into an introspective reflection on toxic masculinity very much of this cultural moment. Titled “We Believe,” the nearly two-minute video features a diverse cast of boys getting bullied, of teens watching media representatives of macho guys objectifying women, and of men looking into the mirror while news reports of #MeToo and toxic masculinity play in the background. A voiceover asks “Is this the best a man can get?” The answer is no, and the film shows how men can do better by actively pointing out toxic behavior, intervening when other men catcall or sexually harass, and helping protect their children from bullies. The ad blew up; as of Wednesday afternoon it has more than 12 million views on YouTube, and #GilletteAd has trended on Twitter nationwide. Parents across Facebook shared the YouTube link in droves, many mentioning how the ad brought them to tears.

And then, with perfect internet timing, the backlash came. The ad played differently with men’s rights activists, Fox News, and the Piers Morgans of the world. People shared videos and photos throwing disposable razors into the toilet (not a good idea—they aren’t exactly flushable). Men argued that the ad was anti-male, that it lumped all men in together as sexists, and that it denigrated traditional masculine qualities. But whatever noise has surrounded it, the fact that “We Believe” exists at all is an undeniable sign of progress.

“Advertising reflects society,” says Henry Assael, professor of marketing at NYU Stern School of Business. They’ve also become yet another battleground in the country’s larger culture wars. Though some people have made hay on Twitter about never using Gillette again, Assael says buying habits, particularly with something as habitual as a razor, are hard to break. He estimates most people don’t really follow through with their threats to abandon a brand over controversies like this. Take Nike and its ads featuring Colin Kaepernick last year: While there were vocal calls for boycotting the company at the time, it wound up reporting stronger than expected growth in its most recent earnings report.

Gillette’s ad plays on the feeling that men right now want to be better, but don’t necessarily know how. When Gillette was researching market trends last year, in the wake of #MeToo and a national conversation about the behavior of some of the country’s most powerful men, the company asked men how to define being a great man, according to Pankaj Bhalla, North American brand director for Gillette. The company conducted focus groups with men and women across the country, in their homes, and in online surveys. What Bhalla says the team heard over and over again was men saying: “I know I’m not a bad guy. I’m not that person. I know that, but what I don’t know is how can I be the best version of ourselves?”

“And literally we asked ourselves the same question as a brand. How can we be a better version of ourselves?” Bhalla adds. The answer is this ad campaign, and a promise to donate $1 million a year for three years to nonprofits that support boys and men being positive role models.

There’s broader evidence as well that the mainstream concept of masculinity is evolving. Last summer, the American Psychological Association issued guidelines saying that “traditional masculinity ideology” can be harmful for boys and men. When the guidelines got media attention last week, they received a fair share of criticism from conservatives, who viewed them as an attack on long-standing male traits.

Since the #MeToo era ramped up in 2017, the question has been: Will this change anything? Advertising can be a litmus test for where a culture is—an imperfect one at times, but a useful one. Companies run ads to make money, so they wouldn’t knowingly risk espousing beliefs that the majority abhor. Advertising is not so much about creating a new desire as it is about playing into what people already want.

“Advertising is in the business of reading cultural trends, that’s what they do,” says Lisa Jacobson, professor of history at the University of California Santa Barbara who focuses on the history of consumer culture. “They spend a lot of time reading culture, thinking about culture, focus-grouping cultural shifts, so they are attuned to it.”

Gillette’s Bhalla acknowledges that the company would not have made this ad a decade ago. “The insight that ‘I am not the bad guy but I don’t know how to be a great guy,’ that insight wouldn’t have come 10 years ago, because this wasn’t in our ether. It wasn’t in our society at the time,” he says.

Even today, Bhalla and his team knew the ad would not please everyone. An ad addressing such overtly controversial ideas is inherently risky. It could backfire and appear craven, as Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner ad did when it seemed to trivialize Black Lives Matter, and it could alienate existing and future customers. “We Believe” has about 713,000 dislikes on YouTube.

At the same time, thousands of people are talking about the ad online, and the campaign has prominent coverage in media outlets like this one. “It’s a calculated gamble,” says Jacobson. Even if Gillette does lose a few MRA activists, it stands to gain more new customers than it will lose.

Daniel Pope, a historian who has written extensively about advertising in America, says that although this ad is clearly speaking to certain anxieties and desires in the culture, it’s a classically segmented or targeted ad. “Given the hostility that it’s brought forth from conservatives and anti-feminist circles, [it’s clear] they are not appealing to everybody here. They are looking to a particular demographic based on perhaps political beliefs, education levels, feelings of gender equality.”

Jacobson also notes the tropes of the ad appear to make an explicit play for millennial and Generation Z men, who are the generations most embracing and driving the change in masculinity. It’s similarly an appeal to the mothers who buy their sons their first razors. Going after women is a smart business move, since women often do a majority of the household shopping, and Pope notes women also make up a good percentage of Gillette’s customer base. (Bhalla told WIRED the gender breakdown of Gillette customers is roughly 60 percent to 70 percent male, but that doesn’t necessarily capture cases where women are buying products for the men in their lives.)

Though Gillette didn’t say this outright, the ad also works as a sort of corporate prophylactic against allegations of sexism or insensitivity, which many corporations have faced lately. Gillette is a subsidiary of Procter & Gamble, which sells many family and women-focused products in its other brand lines. “I have a feeling it was very much a corporate decision,” says Assael.

Gillette’s older ads showed clean-shaven men kissing women, sending the message that the right shave can win you the girl. In 2013, the company launched a campaign called “Kiss and Tell,” which asked couples to make out before and after the man had shaved and then report back.

“Advertising is in the business of reading cultural trends, that’s what they do.”

Lisa Jacobson, University of California Santa Barbara

The company is not alone in abandoning ad campaigns based on this kind of “women as object and reward” messaging. In fact, it’s following in the footsteps of Axe Body Spray, which for years relied on the idea that if you sprayed the stuff on women would come running. In 2017, Axe parent company Unilever unveiled a new ad campaign called “It’s OK for Guys,” which fought the idea of toxic masculinity by making it clear that it’s OK for men to have emotions, or be skinny, or not like sports. Like Procter & Gamble, Unilever has many family brands under its umbrella, and it was perhaps no longer appropriate to have Axe’s brand out there selling stereotypical machismo.

It’s not only stereotypical gender roles that the Gillette ad attempts to dismantle; it also subverts harmful racial stereotypes. The ad opens with an African American man contemplating his face in the mirror, and it highlights Terry Crews’ congressional testimony in which he advocated for men to stand up and intervene in toxic culture. It goes on to show African American fathers supporting their daughters, educating other men about sexist behavior, and protecting women from catcalling.

“I think this is a subconscious reason why this is getting under the skin of Piers Morgan and Fox and Friends,” says Jacobson. “It’s because this is inverting an old narrative in which white supremacists or just casual racists have attributed toxic masculinity to African American men.”

She’s talking about the racist stereotypes that paint African American males as prone to criminal behavior like sexual assault, or as absentee fathers. By showing black men intervening to stop these behaviors—which the ad shows largely being undertaken by white men—it subtly rejects those harmful tropes.

This careful treatment of race is not necessarily the norm in advertising. According to Assael, the industry was slow to adopt racial inclusiveness and diversity even after the civil rights movement. Gillette’s ad was handled with uncharacteristic thoughtfulness.

Much of the reaction to Gillette’s ad has been positive. Across the board, media and ad experts WIRED spoke to agreed the commercial was clever and as emotionally moving as an ad can really ever hope to be. Though the backlash to it clearly shows that the cultural divisions in America persist, its very existence is proof that the old definitions are masculinity are changing.


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Riot police squads intervene as pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protesters clash in Montreal

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People wave flags atop cars in traffic during a demonstration to voice support for the people of Palestine, at Toronto City Hall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on 15 May 2021.


People wave flags atop cars in traffic during a demonstration to voice support for the people of Palestine, at Toronto City Hall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on 15 May 2021.

  • Violence
    between pro-Israel and pro-Palestine protesters in Montreal was condemned by
    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
  • Montreal’s
    city police force intervened and declared the protests illegal after tensions
    heightened and clashes broke out.
  • Israeli
    strikes killed 42 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, the worst daily
    toll in almost a week of clashes.

Montreal
– Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday condemned the violence and
“despicable rhetoric” that marked several weekend protests throughout
the country, after clashes between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protesters in
Montreal.

The
worst violence in years, sparked by unrest in Jerusalem, is raging between the
Jewish state and Islamist militants.

Israeli
strikes killed 42 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, the worst daily
toll in almost a week of deadly clashes.

Speaking
after protests in Montreal, Trudeau condemned what he said was “despicable
rhetoric and violence we saw on display in some protests this weekend”.

While
insisting on the “right to assemble peacefully and express themselves
freely in Canada”, Trudeau stressed in a tweet that there was no tolerance
for “antisemitism, Islamophobia, or hate of any kind”.

Earlier
on Sunday, Montreal police used tear gas following clashes between pro-Israel
and pro-Palestinian protesters.

Several
hundred demonstrators, draped in Israeli flags, had gathered in a central
Montreal square to express solidarity with the Jewish state.

‘Protesting is a right’

Although
the protest started peacefully, tensions ratcheted up with the arrival of
pro-Palestinian demonstrators and clashes soon broke out.

The
SPVM, Montreal’s city police force, declared the protests illegal, and squads
of riot police intervened, using tear gas to separate and disperse the two
groups, according to an AFP journalist at the scene.

The
police spent much of the afternoon in pursuit of the pro-Palestinian
protesters, who spread out and regrouped in commercial streets in the city centre.

Following
the clashes, Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante said on Twitter that
“protesting is a right”, but that “intolerance, violence and
anti-Semitism have no place here”.

She said:

Montreal is a city of peace.

Several
thousand pro-Palestinian demonstrators had gathered on Saturday in central
Montreal to denounce what they said were Israeli repression and “war
crimes” in Gaza.

“Terrorist
Israel”, some protesters chanted, while others held up a banner that read,
“Stop the genocide of Palestinian children”.

Pro-Palestinian
protests happened the same day in multiple Canadian cities, including Toronto,
Ottawa and Vancouver.


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Peter Thiel Helps Fund an App That Tells You What to Do

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“How would you feel about being able to pay to control multiple aspects of another person’s life?” asks the BBC.

“A new app is offering you the chance to do just that.”

When writer Brandon Wong recently couldn’t decide what takeaway to order one evening, he asked his followers on social media app NewNew to choose for him. Those that wanted to get involved in the 24-year-old’s dinner dilemma paid $5 (£3.50) to vote in a poll, and the majority verdict was that he should go for Korean food, so that was what he bought…

NewNew is the brainchild of Los Angeles-based entrepreneur Courtne Smith. The app, which is still in its “beta” or pre-full release stage, describes itself as “a human stock market where you buy shares in the lives of real people, in order to control their decisions and watch the outcome”. For many of us that sounds a bit ominous, but the reality is actually far less alarming. It is aimed at what it calls “creators” — writers, painters, musicians, fashion designers, bloggers etc. It is designed as a way for them to connect far more closely with their fans or followers than on other social media services and, importantly, monetise that connection…

Whenever a vote is cast the creator gets the money minus NewNew’s undisclosed commission… In addition to voting, followers can also pay extra — from $20 — to ask a NewNew creator to do something of their choosing, such as naming a character in a book after them. But the creator can reject all of these “bids”, and if they do so then the follower doesn’t have to part with the money…

Co-founder and chief executive Ms Smith, a 33-year-old Canadian, has big plans for NewNew, and has some heavyweight backers. Investors include Peter Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of PayPal, and the first outside person to put money into Facebook. Others with a stake in the business include leading US tech investment fund Andreessen Horowitz, and Hollywood actor Will Smith (no relation to Courtne). Snapchat has also given technical support.

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Sandpapergate will haunt Australia cricket forever: ex-bowling coach

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Cameron Bancroft. (Photo by Brenton Geach - Gallo Images/Getty Images)


Cameron Bancroft. (Photo by Brenton Geach – Gallo Images/Getty Images)

The 2018 ball-tampering scandal will haunt Australian cricket forever, much like the infamous underarm delivery of 40 years ago, the team’s former bowling coach David Saker said on Monday.

Saker was responding to opening batsman Cameron Bancroft suggesting that Australia’s bowlers knew about the plan in Cape Town to alter the ball which earned him a nine-month ban and rocked the game.

Saker was Australia’s bowling coach when Bancroft was caught trying to rough up the ball with sandpaper during the third Test against South Africa.

While refusing to be drawn on who knew what, Saker said “the finger-pointing is going to go on and on and on”.

“It’s like the underarm, it’s never going to go away,” he told Fairfax Media, referring to a 1981 incident when Trevor Chappell bowled underarm to ensure New Zealand lost a one-day match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The notorious delivery is still cited in New Zealand and in cricketing circles as a prime example of unsporting conduct.

However, the ball-tampering scandal – dubbed “sandpapergate” – had a greater impact on Australian cricket, with the then-captain Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner suspended for a year from all cricket and stripped of their leadership roles.

Darren Lehmann also quit as coach and all the top brass from Cricket Australia left after a scathing review blasted their “arrogant and controlling” win-at-all-costs culture.

No one else among the team or coaching staff was held to account but Bancroft’s remarks in an interview with The Guardian newspaper hinted that the team’s bowlers at least knew about the plan.

“Obviously what I did benefits bowlers and the awareness around that, probably, is self-explanatory,” he said.

Saker added: “There was a lot of people to blame. It could have been me to blame, it could have been someone else. It could have been stopped and it wasn’t, which is unfortunate.

“Cameron’s a very nice guy. He’s just doing it to get something off his chest … He’s not going to be the last.”

In response, Cricket Australia said that if anyone had new information, they would look into it.

Saker said he was not opposed to a fresh investigation but added “I just don’t know what they’re going to find out.”

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Mexico’s Andrea Meza crowned Miss Universe

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Miss Universe Andrea Meza


Miss Universe Andrea Meza

UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021 IS ANDREA MEZA FROM MEXICO:


UPDATE:

THE MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021 TOP 5:

1. Mexico

2. India

3. Brazil

4. Dominican Republic

5. Peru


UPDATE:

HERE ARE THE MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021 TOP 10 CONTESTANTS:

1. Jamaica 

2. Dominican Republic 

3. India

4. Peru 

5. Australia 

6. Puerto Rico

7. Thailand

8. Costa Rica

9. Mexico

10. Brazil


UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE TOP 21 IN SWIMWEAR:


UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE TOP 21: 

1. Columbia

2. Peru 

3. Australia 

4. France

5. Myanmar

6. Jamaica 

7. Mexico 

8. Dominican Republic 

9. USA

10. Indonesia 

11. Argentina 

12. India

13. Curaçao

14. Puerto Rico

15. Phillipines 

16. Brazil

17. Great Britain

18. Nicaragua

19. Thailand 

20. Costa Rica

21. Vietnam


 UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE SOUTH AFRICA NATASHA JOUBERT WALKS THE STAGE AT MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021:


74 contestants will compete for the title of Miss Universe on 16 May in Hollywood, Florida. 

The Miss Universe pageant takes place on 16 May in the US (02:00 to 05:00 on 17 May SA time). The show will be broadcast live on 1 Magic (DStv Channel 103) with a repeat at 21:30. 

Reigning Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa will crown her successor at the end of the event.

Representing South Africa is Natasha Joubert, and South Africans are hoping for the “magic double” – back-to-back consecutive wins, which has only happened once before in the pageant’s history.

Natasha wowed crowds at the national costume competition last week and on Friday impressed during the preliminary round

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Miss Mexico crowned Miss Universe 2021

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By AFP Time of article published 16m ago

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Washington – Miss Mexico was crowned Miss Universe on Sunday in Florida, after fellow contestant Miss Myanmar used her stage time to draw attention to the bloody military coup in her country.

Sunday night marked the Miss Universe competition’s return to television, after the pageant was cancelled in 2020 for the first time due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Andrea Meza, 26, finished first ahead of the Brazilian and Peruvian finalists in a flashy televised event, hosted by American actor Mario Lopez and television personality Olivia Culpo.

Former Miss Universe contestants Cheslie Kryst, Paulina Vega and Demi-Leigh Tebow (who won the title in 2017) served as competition analysts and commentators, and a panel of eight women determined the winner.

Dressed in a sparkling red evening gown, Meza tearfully walked the catwalk as Miss Universe for the first time, before rushing back for a group hug with the other competitors.

Meza beat more than 70 contestants from around the globe in the 69th installment of Miss Universe, which was held at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.

In the days leading up to the final competition, Miss Myanmar Thuzar Wint Lwin, who made the top 21, made waves when she used her time in the spotlight to bring attention to the coup in her country.

“Our people are dying and being shot by the military every day,” she said during her biographical video, which showed photos of her taking part in the anti-coup protests. “Therefore I would like to urge everyone to speak out about Myanmar.”

Natasha Joubert, Miss Universe South Africa 2020 competes on stage in Ema Savahl swimwear during the MISS UNIVERSE® Preliminary Competition.

She also won the award for best national costume: during that competition segment on Thursday, she wore an outfit beaded in traditional Burmese patterns and held up a sign that said, “Pray for Myanmar.”

Myanmar has been in uproar since February 1, when the army ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

At least 796 people have been killed by security forces since then, according to a local monitoring group, while nearly 4 000 people are behind bars.

Miss Singapore Bernadette Belle Ong – who did not make the top 21 – also used the national costume portion to make a political statement.

Dressed in a glittering red bodysuit and matching thigh-high boots, she turned around to reveal her cape – in the colours of the Singaporean flag – was painted with the words “Stop Asian Hate.”

“What is this platform for if I can’t use it to send a strong message of resistance against prejudice and violence?” she wrote on Instagram alongside pictures of her outfit.

The United States in particular has seen a surge in anti-Asian violence in the past year, which activists have blamed on former president Donald Trump’s rhetoric, especially his repeated description of Covid-19 as the “China virus.”

The pageant has also drawn criticism in the past for objectifying the contestants.

In recent years, the competition has shifted image, focusing more on female empowerment and activism.

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