A poignant new PSA from White Ribbon Canada explores the hot topic of "toxic masculinity" by depicting how a sensitive little boy could grow up to become a bully and potentially violent to women.
The three-minute film, which debuted on Anti-Bullying Day in Canada (Feb 27), follows the boy's life as he experiences bullying, witnesses domestic violence and is told by his parents that "boys don't cry." As he becomes older, he becomes the bully, fighting with other boys and treating women badly. Finally, after abusing a girl on social media, it's suggested he might be about to do something worse.
White Ribbon says it aims to spark a conversation about "the importance of healthy self-esteem, compassion, and emotional intelligence in boys." The video includes a call to action to visit www.boysdontcry.ca to learn more about how to promote healthy masculinity, prevent bullying and contribute to a future without gender-based violence.
The ad was created by Bensimon Byrne and its sister shop Narrative, and directed pro bono by Hubert Davis, who has previously been nominated for an Academy Award and Emmy Award for his work as a documentary filmmaker, via Untitled Films. “It was important for me to make this film because I believe strongly that men have a responsibility to educate themselves in order to be part of positive change,” Davis says in a statement. “As a society we still live with negative, outdated concepts of manhood, with very toxic results. If we want to prevent gender-based violence, we need to address what’s at the roots of it.”
The PSA comes as commercial brands are also starting to explore both "toxic masculinity" and male mental health in the wakeup of the #MeToo movement: examples include Gillette's controversial take on the topic, while this week, another razor brand, Harry's featured England soccer star Harry Kane declaring he's "not afraid to ask for help."