Ryan Alexander-Tanner

I WAS WATCHING a college basketball game a few days ago and I saw the goddamndest thing I've seen in my whole goddamned life. During the commercial break, they were reeling off the usual advertisements directed at the 18- to 35-year-old male demographic. It was a bleak parade of beautiful women selling beer, black people pretending McDonald's is a sit-down restaurant, Denis Leary effectively spitting in your face until you buy whatever kind of truck he's selling—all the commercial shit you're used to seeing when you watch sports on television. Then, they showed a commercial for Axe that honestly kind of floored me.

Ever since I can remember, Axe (and specifically the body spray) had been synonymous with the kind of "shitty douche bro lacrosse stick piece of shit drunk driving racist joke cool story babe make me a sandwich suns out guns out" motherfuckers who wore it. The brand was toxic masculinity. This commercial wasn't that.

It was part of Axe's new "Find Your Magic" ad campaign, which encourages men to "find their thing." It's essentially a glitzy, fuck-focused way of encouraging body positivity. Against the backdrop of traditional male good looks a dude with a big nose is proud of his big nose, a nerd is proud of being a nerd, a black guy is eccentric but he's also good at dancing (okay, not that progressive), and a guy in a wheelchair is stunting in his wheelchair—you know, all very diverse in a "cover of a high school math textbook" sort of way. Then the ad shifts up another gear and shows a bunch of dudes rocking high heels and celebrating each other, and that's cool and unique and rare as fuck—but honestly, the entire commercial is cool and unique and rare as fuck.

This isn't me comparing struggles, so please don't read it as such. This is just me pointing out that male body positivity is important, and I honestly believe that this Axe commercial can help save America. Even as we drag and fight our way toward a more egalitarian society, straight white dudes are still disproportionately powerful. That imbalance is beneficial to white dudes, of course, but now it also comes with shame. The system is broken, and white guys benefit from it. The system is broken, but a bunch of white guys are still broke, in debt, in bad relationships, and struggling to improve. The system is tilted in their favor and they're still losing.

Throw in all the regular struggles of being human—you're fat, or you're ugly, or you're too short, or your dick isn't big enough, or your car isn't nice enough—and then you get Donald Trump. And then you get people shooting up movie theaters, or becoming Men's Rights Activists, or calling for White History Month, or other stupid toxic shit like that. I know it seems silly, but a little bit of "it's okay to be who you are" can go a long way.

If a commercial wants to tell me that the only thing wrong with my body is that it doesn't smell like what a scientist in New Jersey thinks a glacier might smell like, I'll take it. And I hope we get more.