This New Harry's Ad Offers a Powerful Message About the Meaning of 'Manhood'

There’s an emerging conversation around the concept of masculinity spurred on, in part, by the #metoo movement as well as the question of how to prevent mass shootings, which are almost always carried out by men or even boys. Adding their voice this week is Harry’s, a men’s grooming brand, with a commercial about a fatherless boy who teaches an alien what it means to be a man.

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“A man has to be strong … like brave,” the boy says. “A man shouldn’t be afraid of anything.”

“Are you ever afraid?” The alien asks.

“Sometimes,” he responds, pauses, and then says, “I mean, there really aren’t any rules, honestly.”

It’s sentimental and intended to elicit emotion, if not tears. (AdAgecalled it a “a rare tear-jerker razor ad.”) But it comes amid this broader reckoning for masculinity that’s recently colored by voices like comedian Michael Ian Black, who rang an alarm bell around America’s boys in an op-ed for The New York Times last week.

“America’s boys are broken. And it’s killing us,” he wrote.

Too many boys are trapped in the same suffocating, outdated model of masculinity, where manhood is measured in strength, where there is no way to be vulnerable without being emasculated, where manliness is about having power over others. They are trapped, and they don’t even have the language to talk about how they feel about being trapped, because the language that exists to discuss the full range of human emotion is still viewed as sensitive and feminine.

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At the same time, Jordan Peterson, a college professor and clinical psychologist, has vaulted to online fame thanks partly to his views on masculinity. Peterson, who is reviled by many for his views on transgendered people and feminism, has spoken and written about the need for men to become better at, well, almost everything.

With marketers now joining the fray, it’s clear America will be considering, and reconsidering, ideas of masculinity—a much-needed and welcome conversation.

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Lifestyle – Esquire

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