Innovations Schminnovations

Enough already. It’s just too much. I’m sick of it. You probably already know what I’m talking about, don’t you? Everybody must be saying the same thing, aren’t they? Humanity the world over doesn’t need any more innovations in shaving.

But that’s not what Gillette and Schick think. They keep releasing “innovative” new razors and loud hyper-macho commercials that demonstrate how exciting your life will be with their new “shaving systems”–fast jets, beautiful women and chiseled good looks. Everybody knows that happens only when you drink the right beer.

Now I’m all for technical advances, but shaving got as close to perfection as we need in 1971 with the introduction of two-blade razors. It’s a scientific fact that they’re 97% of the way to perfection (when measured by my guessing what number to use). They’re safe, clean, comfortable and convenient. All the brassy marketing and all the latest improvements are about getting perhaps 1% closer to perfection (using the same measuring system). The marketing outperforms the improvement.

The latest razors actually have their own web sites complete with interactive 3-D images, close up pictures and life style sections. And one press release from a razor maker says its product is “designed to appeal to committed disposable razor users who are looking for technologically advanced, superior-performing shaving products.”

I want to do a quick reader survey just for my own research, so raise your hands if you’re a “committed disposable razor user” looking for technologically advanced shaving products. Okay, put them down, because I really can’t see you through the newspaper, and you probably look silly reading the paper with one hand in the air. We all know the answer: 7 (again measured by my guessing what number to use)

In the entire world, there are only seven people looking for technically advanced shaving products, and they all work for Gillette and Schick. It’s a fortunate twist of fate that they live at a time in history when technology is king and music downloads are free. A hundred years ago, they would have been miserable with antiquated straight razors and Morse code music downloads.

But today, these people get the satisfaction of designing four-blade razors with pivoting heads, conditioning strips and ergonomic handles, thus saving the world from the epidemic of shaving related wrist sprains.

In the interest of fairness, I have to report that my good friend Larry (Not his real name. He doesn’t want the embarrassment of appearing in this column.)…anyway, he uses a three-blade razor and he swears by it. He says it shaves clean and close.

In the interest of bias (my bias to make my point), these small steps closer to perfection are fleeting. An hour after shaving, the difference between a regular razor and a “new and improved” razor is gone. Wouldn’t it elevate the fortune of mankind more if all that research and development went into something more important like disease control, famine relief or faster music downloads?

Now, you might say, “Dave, it’s just shaving.” (And you would look silly talking to the newspaper.) And you might say that my making a big deal about razor companies making a big deal about nothing…well, then I’m making a big deal about nothing, too. Right on both counts. I could go on and on with more exquisitely reasoned rant, but I don’t want to overhype my case. So I’ll do what Gillette and Schick should have done years ago. I’ll just stop.