The Week In Garbage Men: The Mean Feminists Murdered My Axe Body Spray
If there is any sure sign that I do somewhat live in a bubble, it is that I have literally never known any man who uses Axe body spray or any other Axe products, that I am aware of. Ever since they first came on the market, they were widely known to be products for douchebags. Like, if you wanted to be creative with describing a douchebag, some comment about "reeking of Axe body spray" would be warranted. If any guys I knew actually did use those products, they would likely never tell anyone about it, due to said association with douchebags.
Now, however AXE is trying to rebrand as a brand for normal people, rather than douchebags, and one douchebag is very, very mad about it
In an essay published in the internet's home for the worst hot takes of all time, The Federalist, writer Samuel Buntz laments the loss of the Axe commercials of the '90s, which featured manly men putting on Axe deodorant or body spray and getting immediately stampeded by swimsuit models.
Now, the Axe Deodorant of my youth, and of our collective young manhood and womanhood, was an avowedly “edgy” brand. The typical Axe commercial progressed like so: a 20-year old skater punk working at a fast-food place would apply Axe, immersing himself in the pungent mist ejected from its spray can. In a matter of minutes, a crowd of frenzied nubile women would burst onto the scene and violently tear his clothes off. The message was clear and written in stark capital letters: AXE = SEX.
THAT IS THE AXE DEODORANT OF EXACTLY NO ONE'S YOUTH, OK? The commercials, yes, but pretty much no "skater punk" was going to be dousing himself in Axe. Axe was decidedly for like, the kind of dudes you'd see yelling "WOOOO!!!! SPRING BREAK! DAYTONA BEACH!" on MTV's Spring Break. Sleazy frat bros. Elimidate contestants. Dudes in Ed Hardy t-shirts.
These new commercials, says Buntz, market Axe as DEODORANT FOR WIMPS, instead of cool, macho dudes who get swarmed by ladies in bikinis.
Now, why would Axe deodorant shift its messaging so drastically? The ad says, effectively, “If you want to be a weenie, try Axe!” It is consciously stylizing itself as the deodorant for wimps. Since this cannot be a winning ad campaign, we need to consider what greater cultural trends are forcing Axe to make this apparently insane marketing decision. The answer, it seems, lies in the corporate Left’s misguided belief that male vulnerability is sexy.
OH NO, WHAT HATH WE WROUGHT????
The gist of Buntz's argument is that we are all collectively deciding to buy into this "myth," and "living within the lie" -- that we are only pretending to believe in it, because secretly we all are into dudes who are tough and stoic? Or something?
It is not the height of liberal fashion to be an Axe-using skater punk who just wants a bunch of ladies to rip his clothes off. That’s too “toxic.” Admittedly, it is not the same as being an actually toxic dude like Weinstein or Bill Cosby, but it’s still part of the same solar system. Conversely, it is allegedly hip and trendy and “woke” to be a man with a soupy emotional core—a man who, for example, is afraid of spiders and unwinds at the end of the day by knitting a comfy set of mittens for his pet cat.
The sadder myth here is that Buntz thought that when he was wearing Axe, he was cool like how a skater punk was cool, when in fact the "skater punks" probably thought he was an Axe body spray-wearing douchebag. Also allow me to note that at the time he was speaking of, like, 70% of the "skater punks" I knew were listening to emo.
The thing about "toxic masculinity" is that it sets up ridiculous parameters for what "manliness" is supposed to be, and not giving a fuck about those parameters is about 10,000 times cooler than desperately trying to fit into them. Who is cooler? Who is tougher, even? A bro wearing Axe Body Spray doing fist bumps or whatever, or Rosie Grier being like "Hi, I'm a bad ass football player, but also I love doing needlepoint, and do not really care if you don't think that's cool?" Obviously the answer is Rosie Grier.
Also a sad myth? That dudes who love cats are not sexy. BECAUSE HELLO:
Yeah, I can honestly say, without "living in a lie" that I find that a hell of a lot sexxxier than I find Samuel Buntz.
Sorry! Maybe I just can't smell his man musk from my computer.
I can also day that I would 100% find it more sexxxy for a dude to just say he's freaked out by spiders, than for him to pretend he is not freaked out by spiders in order to seem manly. Because the latter would be super weird and make him seem like he was incredibly insecure. And, not coincidentally, like the kind of dude who wears Axe body spray.
The essay continues AND CONTINUES with Vaclav Havel quotes and more lamenting of how everyone is just pretending to like sensitive dudes because "the left" brainwashed them into it to destroy manhood or something. You know, either that or we don't define "manhood" as being stampeded by bikini models gone feral over the scent of trashy body spray. ONE OF THOSE TWO THINGS.
And you know what? Maybe we did murder your Axe Body Spray. But if so, I cannot say I'm sorry. We did you a favor.
And now it is time for your open thread! And also time to tip us, maybe?
Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse