Ashton & Demi's Misguided Anti-Sex Trafficking PSAs

Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore want to do something about child sex slavery, which is definitely commendable. Unfortunately, they're promoting their charity with some of the most epically inept PSAs ever.

The ads, which star many actors including Bradley Cooper, Jamie Foxx, Jason Mraz, Drake, Sean Penn, Justin Timberlake, each feature a corny joke about male behavior and the message "Real Men Don't Buy Girls."

It's clear that Ashton and Demi modeled the campaign after the snarky "Man Your Man Could Smell Like" Old Spice commercials (there's even a PSA starring Isaiah Mustafa). Morbid facts on sex trafficking don't make for a viral video hit, but in an effort to reach more people, the ads have sacrificed substance.

It's not like guys thinking about soliciting child sex slaves are going to be dissuaded by Ashton Kutcher challenging their masculinity in a jokey YouTube video. As Helen A.S. Popkin writes on Today's blog,

One might argue that faux-zany vignettes in which Jamie Foxx opens a beer bottle with a remote and Bradley Cooper eats cereal bachelor-style 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.

Advertisement, the website that's listed at the end, includes facts on sex trafficking and survivors' stories (which were culled from other charities' websites). The problem is none of this information made it to any of the PSAs. Sometimes commercials featuring humor and celebrities can be an effective way to promote a cause, but in this case the message is too muddled. The ads don't even increase awareness of anything but which celebrities were free when the got they call from Demi and Ashton.

Ashton And Demi's Anti-Sex Trafficking Campaign Is Dumb [Today]



My biggest issue with these ads is how confusing they are. At first I was thinking, well, maybe we find them particularly simplistic and ineffective because on the whole the readers of this site ARE more aware of child sex trafficking and the realities of what that entails, but that men who may tune out more statistics-heavy/sober ads would pay attention to this.

But, then, without the background of understanding child sex trafficking and its pervasiveness throughout all of the world, these ads make no sense. I'd imagine many guys won't understand what "real men don't buy girls" even means: that it refers mainly to underage sex workers, instead of just prostitution in general, and that going to the "right" places to buy sex isn't going to prevent you from using trafficked girls.