Celebrities often throw their weight behind laudable causes, but sometimes, despite their influence, they’re not very effective. Such is the case with Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore’s new campaign against child sex slavery, “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls,” which features entertaining PSAs that are shockingly devoid of any information about the issue.
Their website does have some ways that people can take action against child sex slavery, but this is not the focus of the campaign, which features a series of videos using celebrities like Sean Penn, Jamie Foxx, Drake, and Justin Timberlake, among others. The clips are supposed to encourage other men to make advocacy videos which would, theoretically, stop child sex trafficking. In reality, though, they’re just confusing. An example, featuring Sean Penn, is below:
“Real Men Don’t Buy Girls” was, according to Kutcher, born after he watched a “Dateline” episode about child sex slavery in Cambodia. “I was watching six and seven-year-old girls being raped for profit,” Kutcher explained. “I said to myself: I don’t want to live in a world where these things are happening and I’m not doing anything about them.” Kutcher and Moore researched the issue and discovered that in the United States alone, between 100,000 and 300,000 girls are enslaved and sold for sex.
Their concern about the issue is admirable; their execution is, however, less than elegant. As Margaret Hartmann writes on Jezebel, “It’s not like guys thinking about soliciting child sex slaves are going to be dissauded by Ashton Kutcher challenging their masculinity in a jokey YouTube video.”
Helen A.S. Popkin adds on the Today show blog, “One might argue that faux-zany vignettes…are as effective at wiping out underage sex trafficking as posting the color of your bra in your Facebook status is at eradicating breast cancer. The video campaign just costs way more money.”
If you’re interested in continuing to explore the issue, this website has some very helpful links, which will lead you to less high-profile organizations that are nevertheless doing much more effective work in ending the practice of child sex trafficking than “Real Men Don’t Sell Girls.” Celebrities often bring helpful attention to these issues, especially when they blend humor and entertainment, but as others have pointed out, Kutcher and Moore’s approach is just too muddled.
Photo from the Demi & Ashton Foundation.