Ashton Kucher Gets Punk’d By His Own Ironic Machismo

Posted: April 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

I am speechless. Videogum is not however:

‘Oh good grief. Look, you can’t criticize them too much because at the end of the day they are trying in their very weird (you’ll see) way to make the world a better place. But you can criticize them a little bit. For example, here’s a criticism: I’m pretty sure that anyone who is interested in buying a CHILD SEX SLAVE isn’t going to be particularly swayed by AN IRONICALLY CLEVER ADVERTISEMENT FEATURING JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE THAT PLAYS ON MODERN CONCEPTS OF MASCULINITY. Pretty sure that is not how we move the needle on the whole “fucking kids in dank Queens basements” thing.’

And Salon says:

‘Real men pop beers open with the TV remote, pour milk straight into the cereal box and shave using a chainsaw; therefore, um, you shouldn’t support sex trafficking?’

I think videogum make a good point. This isn’t really about ‘child sex slavery’ at all. It is about Ashton Kucher telling us what a ‘dude’ he is. And celebrity dudes in this day and age have to have a social conscience as well as a six pack and a celebrity dudette wife. Masculinity is being sent up here, but only to reinforce it. Real Men may be incompetent, ditzy, OTT, and camp as Christmas, but they are MEN. They don’t BUY GIRLS. And, to be frank, they look rather girly.

h/t Mark Simpson, who has taken apart especially American machismo, and the obsession with definining what makes Real Men Really Men!


  1. Oh SNAP. I was totally about to click “Add 9-Year-Old-Cambodian-Girl To Your Shopping Cart” and I saw this ad.

    I want to be like Ashton! I guess I’ll go out and grab a 9-year-old off the street, like A REAL MAN.

    Ouch! I think I pulled my sarcasmuscle.

  2. sofia says:

    this is a real advert? weird! is this targeting the use of prostitutes or just specifically trafficked ones? the message was confusing. if it’s the former, it’s weirdly moralistic, intrusive and shockingly judgmental.

    • Tim says:

      sofia, I have heard quite a few people say that this ad and the campaign behind it is targeting both. Apparently people try to divert the righteous shock and wrath we feel about child pornography/abuse/sex trafficking towards an anti-sexworker and anti-porno stance.

      Also: Another “REAL MEN” spot ? Really ? I think I have ranted about those around here already so I won’t do it again, but this is just rediculous.

    • the ‘real men don’t buy girls’ campaign I thought was for prostitution in general:

      and I am sure Kutcher and Moore were in on it when it was eg going to the World cup in SA. But now they seem to be focussing on under-age ‘trafficked’ sex workers but it is all a bit vague as they are so busy making these flash macho ads!

      • Alex says:

        The ‘real men don’t buy girls’ campaign I thought was for prostitution in general
        That’s the main problem. The whole campaign could mean that just as easily, in fact it makes even more sense in terms of what real men do and don’t do. “Real men don’t buy girls” makes the most sense if you read it as “real men can get a girl for free”.

        This is how feminism has been damaged by going mainstream – the thought process doesn’t have to be anything more intelligent than “thing man do bad – campaign make man STOP DO!” to succeed. You then get stuff like this which, if she was still alive, would me making head-shaped dents all over Simone de Beauvoir’s desk.

        Plus Piers Morgan? Really?

  3. redpesto says:

    “Oh SNAP. I was totally about to click “Add 9-Year-Old-Cambodian-Girl To Your Shopping Cart” and I saw this ad”

    I’m still laughing – even though I probably shouldn’t.

    I get the feeling the whole ‘Real Men Don’t…’ strategy is going to crash and burn very soon. It’s not just the echoes of every social purity campaign from the late nineteenth-century onwards (‘Muscular Christians Don’t Buy Fallen Women’). It’s not the overblown attempts to articulate masculinity (I keep thinking of the ‘fuck me gently with a chainsaw’ line from Heathers – is that how ‘real men’ fuck ‘real women’, let alone shave?). It’s not even the fact that there’s a shot of Piers Morgan (the Andy McNab of tabloid journalism?) in the video. It’s the fact the whole concept fails. Feminists who have been traditionally sceptical, if not hostile, towards ‘real’ masculinity are now expected to buy into this because it chimes with their anti-porn, anti-sex industry sentiments (John ‘Refusing to Be a Man’ Stoltenberg must be choking on his muesli). The slogan draws on the lazy argument that men literally ‘buy’ the women (not ‘girls’) when it comes to commercial sex. And if we are talking about girls, it’s illegal because they are underage (as boys would be too), so having sex with minors for free doesn’t make you a ‘real man’ either.

    PS: Judging from some of the slogans used – ‘Real Men Know How to Use an Iron’, indeed – the temptation to mock – ‘Real Men Can Walk and Chew Gum’; ‘Real Men Don’t Know the Offside Rule’ – is just too great, even if the cause is worthy (but if it was worthy, why should a man’s manly manliness ass be on the line over it?).

    • Tim says:

      Hi redpesto

      The ‘Real men do/don’t’ is nothing new in commercials itself. It has lots of uses in, but not only, beer, car and body spray advertisments. But it was only recently discovered by anti-something movements to create political punchlines like a meme generator. And I don’t think that it is vers effective, I mean I stopped adhering to all those things required to be a real men a long time ago.

      Actually I have been thinking about compiling a list of all the things Real Men apparently do or don’t do. I thought that maybe if we throw all the stuff magazines, tv commercials and campaigns tell us in one large kettle then maybe, just maybe we come up with a clearcut definition of what masculinity actually looks like.

  4. redpesto says:

    One further thought: if the slogan was ‘Real Men Ask First’, presumably getting a ‘Yes’ means consent to whatever was agreed on, including paying/being paid for sex.

    PS: Do ‘Real Men Use Safewords’ or not?

    • Its not about consent though redpesto it is about denigrating certain types of men who do certain types of things. the fact they lump in ‘rape’ with ‘paying for sex’ with ‘buying trafficked girls’ with ‘not buying our particular brand of hamburger’ is one thing that makes the whole concept weird.

      • redpesto says:

        …but part of the ‘prostitution is bad’ narrative is that a business agreement to exchange money for sexual services is abuse, because…well it’s money exchanged for sexual services: the woman (male sex workers usually get ignored in this argument) somehow cannot consent to getting paid (for sex, that is). So yes, it’s about a hostility to certain sexual acts/behaviours (back to Rubin’s ‘Thinking Sex’ again…) and also about removing/invalidating particular contexts for consent or choice. ‘Real Men Honor Their Deals’, perhaps?

  5. Mark says:

    Real Men don’t do irony.

  6. Nico says:

    It’s impressive that a campaign like this made it all the way from misconception to multiple stillbirths without someone, somewhere along the line, explaining to its parents their monstrosity is best aborted.

    Fuck conceptually conflationary rhetoric.

  7. redpesto says:

    A ‘surreal Manly table’, eh? You mean it looks like Dali’s vision of a limp penis? Just the thing for one’s retro-metrosexual bachelor pad!

  8. Hugh Toole says:

    When I saw this I thought, “Damn, I wish someone had told me that Real Men didn’t have to pay prostitutes! I’d have paid more attention in Real Man class ’cause they’re bleeding me dry.”

    Having had my world view shattered with bang by Ashton and Semi or whatever her name is, since I’m short, fat and balding with severe personality issues I’ve decided to do everyone a favour and spend the rest of my life wanking into a sock.

  9. Hugh Toole says:

    Now I’m really confused. I was presuming I wasn’t a real man even though mine’s a rugby sock.

  10. redpesto says:

    More analysis from Digital Life, which also thinks it’s a dumb video campaign.

  11. […] refer to the sillyness of using the term Real Men. So in Kutcher’s case, he sends up macho ads for men’s cosmetics, as if it is ridiculous to suggest it is manly to use a certain brand of […]

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