Monday, February 16, 2009

Ashton Kutcher Paving the Way for Celebrity in the 21st Century

It's not very often I post anything about celebrities as I find the glitter and sparkle of Hollywood the most boring thing in the world. I'd rather stare into space, bored out of my mind, than open up People Magazine. However, every once in a while, a celebrity intrigues me because he's not like all the rest.

The first time I ever saw Ashton Kutcher, he was in his underwear, hosting Saturday Night Live. I then saw a couple episodes of Punk'd and concluded, rather unfairly - I've yet to see one of his movies - that although entertaining, he was just another empty-headed, pretty boy from Hollywood.

Upon hearing of his relationship with his current wife, Demi Moore, as chauvinistic as this will sound, it intrigued me... somewhat. Although, Demi Moore is gorgeous, could pass for 30-years old, and men of all ages find her extremely attractive, I wondered why a man in his twenties, who could have any "girl" he wants, would go for someone so much older. Of course, if Demi were the male and Ashton, the female, I wouldn't have thought twice.

Fast forward to post election, and one day, while I was busy doing something else, I had Real Time with Bill Maher on in the background. I heard Kutcher articulate something I was thinking earlier, and as enamored as I am with my own thoughts (as this blog proves), I immediately tuned in and was impressed with what he had to say.

Some of Ashton Kutcher's quotes from that show:

Regarding whether churches should have to pay taxes:
"I think it should depend on the philanthropic nature of the organization. If they can show that what it is they do is a philanthropic act, then I think they should be exempt, and if they can't, then they shouldn't have to pay the taxes."
Couldn't agree more. For example, the Catholic Church...yes, with all its gold, is also the biggest form of universal health care in the world. Not to mention, all of the other altruistic projects the Church gets involved in that would otherwise be ignored by the rest of world.

Regarding what the U.S. could potentially cut:
"Let's stop sending things to Mars...There are thousands of children sold into the sex slave trade every single day..."
Regarding the "big three" bailout:
"You know who should bail them out, the oil companies...the only reason they're in decline is their allegiance to oil companies, and there are some folks on (I think he said Wall Street) that could pitch in as well"
Best idea ever!
Then, a few months later, I discovered him on Twitter and qik, where he basically lets the world get a glimpse of his reality, on a pretty regular basis. He also uses Twitter to collaborate with his followers, as he does when he asks for ideas, and occasionally, he will post what he's reading as he did in this tweet:
# latest winner i've read is a book called Natural Capitalism by paul hawken, amory lovins, l. hunter lovins. recommend per econ. recovery 8:54 PM Feb 3rd from web

# gonna start a new book tonight. the end of poverty by jeffrey sachs. very excited 8:50 PM Feb 3rd from web
These simple tweets prompted some to accuse him of claiming he's an expert on economics. What? All he did was recommend a book for consideration in order to recover the economy...two very good books, I might add.

It's not that Ashton Kutcher has transformed himself into a Gandhi like figure. He's still the same guy who likes to have fun. Sometimes, as on Punk'd, his fun is at the expense of someone else, but never in a mean-spirited way. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for others. In particular, Perez Hilton, who takes pleasure in delivering his blows way below the belt - no, not those kind of blows - attacking people who have not willingly entered the world of celebrity.

In response to Hilton's invective against his stepdaughter, which I won't repeat, Kutcher could have stooped to his level with an equally cruel attack, but he did not. Rather, he asked Hilton to leave his stepdaughter alone. Despite his more than reasonable approach, Kutcher, not Hilton, as far as I know, was criticized.

I fully realize that Ashton Kutcher does not need me or anyone else to take up his "cause"and that unfair assessment is par for the course of celebrity. Nevertheless, when someone who seems to be trying to take advantage of his position in life to better humanity, rather than remain in a self-absorbed cocoon, preoccupied only with what's best for them - like I would do if I were a celebrity - treated unfairly by the press, I think it's wrong no matter how much money and fame the person has.

The bottom line is there is more to that pretty face than meets the eye. Ashton Kutcher is actually very insightful and a very intelligent guy. Moreover, he seems to care about issues that will affect all of our lives, and he doesn't take himself all that seriously. While it's true there are many celebrities like him in that respect, the thing that differentiates him is his willingness to cross the great divide that places celebrity on a pedestal for others to worship from afar.

So, just as Craig Newmark is one of the few examples of a corporate leadership who is paving the way for 21st Century America, Ashton Kutcher is one of the few celebrities willing to sacrifice some of the allure - which can translate to power - that makes a star, a star, in order to collaborate and share his own humanity with his fans while trying to make the world a better place.

2 comments:

Anonymous,  09:54  

Hardly.

Anonymous,  10:26  

oooooo he twitters...big deal. so do a ton of other celebs.

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