A West Virginia principal is reluctantly owning up to plagiarizing Ashton Kutcher during a graduation speech days after a former student exposed him. Yes, Ashton Kutcher.
Graduate Abby Smith noticed Parkersburg High School Principal Kenny DeMoss’s May 23 speech sounded oddly familiar. It turns out that DeMoss’s copied large swaths of actor Ashton Kutcher’s 2013 Teen Choice Awards speech. Smith decided to post a Facebook video showing portions of DeMoss’s speech spliced alongside Kutcher’s own. “Here is my principal, plagiarizing his entire graduation speech,” reads Smith’s caption. The video has been viewed over 117,000 times.
The copying is so blatant that it is actually laughable. DeMoss said, “I believe that opportunity looks a lot like hard work.” This is word for word what Kutcher said during his 2013 speech to a room of screeching teens. And perhaps this is a coincidence, but DeMoss said that he once got a job as a laborer for a construction company “carrying shingles up and down a ladder to a roof.” Kutcher said that at 13 he, too, had a job “carrying shingles up to the roof.” (This line, for whatever reason, prompted a girl in the Teen Choice Awards audience to scream.)
DeMoss also quoted Steve Jobs, as did Kutcher. But it’s worth noting that at the time Kutcher was promoting his upcoming movie Jobs, in which Kutcher portrayed... Steve Jobs.
DeMoss has now issued a statement claiming that he simply erred in neglecting to cite his sources. That’s one way of putting it!
From The Parkersburg News and Sentinel:
DeMoss sent an audio message to parents Wednesday evening and posted the statement on the Parkersburg High School Facebook page.
“As a proud father and a man of faith, I want to sincerely apologize to those I have obviously offended,” DeMoss said in the message. “It was never my intent to take credit for what I said or give specific credit because of how I prefaced my speech.”
DeMoss said the opening of his speech, which referenced “many great ideas and thoughts that have helped me be who I am today,” was intended as a disclaimer to “preface that these ideas and thoughts that I am about to share, I have heard before, from others, and along with my personal beliefs, have shaped me into who I am as a man, a father, and leader. In hindsight, I wish I would have cited more.”
Here’s a screenshot of the DeMoss’s now deleted statement in full, which can only be described as a doozy.
It was bad enough that DeMoss said that he was going to “spill the tea” during the graduation speech, but to copy an Ashton Kutcher speech that went viral six years ago is a new low on the cringe front. At least he’s a father and man of faith!
According to Smith, DeMoss has blocked her on all social media platforms and allegedly used a third-party to warn her that her video infringes on the copyright of the company that produced the graduation video. But Smith refuses to be cowed. She took to Facebook to release the following statement to the press:
When publishing the video, my intention was to call attention in my community to something I felt was wrong and dishonest. I would have never expected and it was really never my intention for this to become a national headline. While we are still awaiting a true apology, I feel that this story ends here. I have always been someone who believes that accountability and honesty are very important. I do not want anyone to think that I’ve done what I’ve done to gain attention or notoriety. This was done out of a quest to uphold standards and accountability at all levels. I will never stop fighting for things I believe in.
Can someone give Abby Smith a Teen Choice Award, please?