All Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore want to do with their "Real Men" campaign is raise awareness about human trafficking and the danger it poses to young girls. And for their efforts, they are being mocked mercilessly.
The Village Voice ripped them a new one this week and the whole incident has become a rather amusing -- and contentious -- Twitter war between the Village Voice and Mr. Demi Moore. I am totally Team Ashton.
An article published by the Voice last Wednesday called “Real Men Get Their Facts Straight” called Kutcher out on the numbers he uses in the campaign, pointing out that there aren't 100,000 to 300,000 children turning to prostitution each year in the States. In fact, that is the number of "at-risk" teens, whereas the numbers are much, much lower in terms of actual child prostitutes.
OK, fine. They have a point. But their own point is lost in the conflict of interest. They sell ads for "adult services," which sometimes may very well mean they contribute to child sex trafficking. So while they take Kutcher to task on his numbers, I take them to task on their conflict.
Besides, isn't any number of child hookers kind of an issue?
Typically, celebrity causes fill me with annoyance. They're either half-assed attempts at doing good or they're so far into it that they become sanctimonious and high and mighty about it, as if the rest of us are filling our idle time with gossip and bon-bons rather than working for the money of which they have plenty. But, in this case, Ashton and Demi mean well, and while their facts are off, as the Village Voice points out, the newspaper itself has no leg to stand on in that regard.
They may think child sex trafficking isn't enough of a problem to warrant a whole campaign. And maybe they are right. But, as Kutcher points out on Twitter:
fact: news outlets who have financial interest in trafficking may have interest in applying bias to facts to secure their revenue
fact: In the US, children as young as FIVE YEARS OLD have been sold for sex.
fact: Since Jan, 1.9 million people have searched for terms on the NCMEC watch list, “kiddy sex,” “child rape,” “little girls nude.”
The Village Voice has responded with their own angry tweets, like:
@aplusk What makes more sense, spending to treat teen problems, or targeting of legal adult freedoms?
Any underage prostitution is repugnant, so @aplusk, how about treating real underlying teen problems, not pushing imaginary sex slave myths?
Hm. @aplusk chided us for not answering him last night at 3 am. Taking a Hollywood nap, Ashton? See ya later when the energy bar kicks in?
Both make good points and I do agree that prostitution between consenting adults does represent a freedom and isn't necessarily an issue of "real" versus unreal men. But, in this case, the Village Voice is overstepping a boundary and clearly revealing they have a biased stake here. That renders their points pretty much useless.
Ashton Kutcher is not Kelso, the character he played on That '70s Show. He is trying to do some real good, flawed or not. And to chide him for that seems highly suspect.
Who do you believe?
Image via cliff1066™/Flickr