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Ashton Kutcher Attempts to Destroy Newspaper For Criticizing Him

Ashton Kutcher Attempts to Destroy Newspaper For Criticizing Him

Ashton Kutcher’s recent forays into social justice activism have not been successful, perhaps because they are not especially well-conceived.  His “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls” campaign, inspired by an episode of “Dateline,” has been roundly panned in the months since it was launched, most recently by The Village Voice. In a piece published last week, the newspaper lambasted the videos, saying that they “reeked of frat-boy humor.”  They also questioned Kutcher’s statistics.  Kutcher, proving that he is a mature public figure who understands free speech and the nature of public discourse, responded by targeting the Village Voice‘s advertisers, in an attempt to destroy the newspaper.

According to the Village Voice‘s Martin Cizmar, Ellis Conklin and Kristen Hinman, the often-cited figure on child prostitution and the inspiration for Kutcher’s campaign is, quite simply, incorrect.  Although, like Kutcher, many mainstream media outlets also refuse to question or explain the claim that “100,000 to 300,000 children in America [are] turning to prostitution every year,” this number needs to be put in context.

“What no newspaper has bothered to explain—and what Moore and Kutcher certainly don’t mention,” Cizmar, Conklin and Hinman explain, “is that the figure actually represents the number of children [the original researchers] considered ‘at risk’ for sexual exploitation, not the number of children actually involved.”  Even these researchers admit that it is nearly impossible to determine exactly how many child prostitutes there are in the United States.

Kutcher quickly went on the attack, pointing out that a Craigslist-esque website called Backpage.com, which happens to be owned by Village Voice Media, is currently being sued by a former child prostitute who says that she was trafficked through the website.  And because Kutcher owns one of the most-followed Twitter handles in the world, with over seven million followers, when Kutcher then began to go after the Village Voice‘s advertisers, people listened.

He told American Airlines“Hey +AmericanAir. Are you aware that you are advertising on a site that supports the Sale of Human Beings (slavery)?” And the company responded: “We will address this IMMEDIATELY. Can you please DM us detail of the site, including a link?”

Kutcher later reported, also via Twitter, that American Airlines had assured him that the ads would soon be down.  This may not, however, be true; according to the Daily Mail, an American Airlines spokesperson said that the advertising rumors “appear to be rumour and speculation. I am not aware of any such action.”  Kutcher also tweeted at Columbia University, Disney, and Domino’s Pizza.

I wrote about the campaign when it first came out in April, and concluded that the videos, which depict various celebrities failing at “manly” activities, were both inelegant and incomprehensible.  But these new claims about Kutcher’s statistics are alarming, to say the least.  And although Village Voice Media does need to investigate the child prostitution claims, the journalists who write for The Village Voice have every right to scrutinze Kutcher’s campaign without fear that he will use his social media presence to attack their advertisers.

After all, shouldn’t real men be able to take some well-pointed criticism?

Photo from David Shankbone’s Flickr photostream.

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43 comments

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2:29PM PDT on Aug 31, 2011

Another way would probably be best.

7:15PM PDT on Jul 16, 2011

Jeez,
I read here so many requests to boycott whatever cause, which I think is the most peaceful thing companies and people understand.
He's doing what most are doing here. Many would dream of an advocate with his potential.

I saw him driving a giant truck once which he bought because he used to be so poor (or so the tag read), it didn't do much good for me about him but somewhere understandable, I didn't completely write him off whereas anyone advocating child abuse, pornography, prostitution, lashing out about a few figures that isn't in the child prostitution itself but "mere at risk", lost any benefit of the doubt from me. I hope the site crashes and burns. At risk is serious enough for me.

Thank you Ashton.
And I hope you changed cars.

8:39PM PDT on Jul 9, 2011

EGO-problems?!

6:31PM PDT on Jul 8, 2011

So Backpage.com,who are being sued, is owned by The Village Voice.I think they should get their own house in order before critisizing anyone.

2:48AM PDT on Jul 8, 2011

Here on Care2 and on other sites I see petitions and calls to action to shut down this paper or that TV show by targeting their sponsors because someone or some group doesn't agree with their point of view, so why all the fuss?

5:07AM PDT on Jul 7, 2011

Ashton added his own comments. He has the same rights everyone else has regarding free speech.

1:15AM PDT on Jul 7, 2011

I echo the sentiments of others who have posted, that he is doing the best he knows how to combat a very real, and very awful situation. The videos are in very poor tast, but his site does show videos of very real victims.

Unfortunately, like Kutcher, many of the people who tend to be behind these attempts to help are not using proper numbers or going about proper methods. Laws need to be changed. Prostitutes need to STOP BEING ARRESTED!! Pimps need to be arrested and punished, and johns need to be educated.

I am a sex worker, and I fear that to take away Backpage (like CL was) is to push it all further underground while also taking away free and viable advertising for those of us who LOVE what we do (it has put a serious damper on My clientele). Track down the culprits there, don't get rid of obvious methods of finding them. When you take away BP and CL you make the perps harder to find - and the victims harder to help.

11:19PM PDT on Jul 5, 2011

This guys like a bull in a china shop. He has no grasp on the concept of true activism, much less diplomacy.
He may have money, but he'll have to go to OZ for the rest of what he's lacking.
Right now he's punking himself, and he doesn't even realize it!

11:00PM PDT on Jul 5, 2011

You may criticize the person, but not the cause. Discrepancies in numbers do not negate the issue. If his facts are wrong, then point out the referenced correction, but do not throw out the baby with the bath water. Usually, such figures turn out to be much greater than what is officially tallied, because there is so much subterfuge with such a despicable crime. Child prostitution is a serious, worldwide problem and thankfully, there are celebrities like Kuscher and Moore who are drawing attention to it. Po-TAY-toes - po-TAW-toes - To-MAY-toes - To-MAW-toes - The statistics, we all know, are very high. Why draw attention away from a great and needy cause with silly bantering about exact figures? The Village Voice would do better for the world by doing some investigating and reporting on the problem themselves. Even if the numbers were half of what Kutcher claimed - which as was stated - were impossible to verify anyway, they are still appallingly high. And if "no one really knows" how many child prostitutes there are in the US anyway, then how can The Village Voice challenge the numbers?

8:48PM PDT on Jul 5, 2011

Who does this clown think he is?

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