White Ribbon Canada tackles toxic masculinity with Boys Don’t Cry PSA

“Isn’t it just boys being boys?” ponders the film, which explores some of the ways toxic masculinity takes hold

Boys Don’t Cry traces the stages of a young boy’s life, starting out innocently enough but quickly drawing our attention to some of the negative messages men receive growing up – ultimately preventing them from expressing their emotions, feeling vulnerable, or showing fear.

It explores how comments such as “boys don’t cry” or “be a big boy” all contribute to the development of toxic masculinity. The film – directed by Hubert Davis – has a dark twist at the end, which links with White Ribbon Canada’s mission to challenge traditional ideas of masculinity, and stop violence against women.

“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,” says Davis. “As a society we still live with negative, outdated concepts of manhood with very toxic results.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 film follows hot on the heels of Gillette’s The Best Men Can Be ad, which similarly grappled with the challenges of modern masculinity – if a little awkwardly. However, maybe because it’s being led by a charitable organisation rather than a brand, Boys Don’t Cry feels like more of a serious comment on the state of things, even if it does veer – perhaps purposefully – into cliché.

whiteribbon.ca; boysdontcry.ca

Agency: Bensimon Byrne/Narrative
Director: Hubert Davis
Production Company: Untitled Films