April 12, 2011 at 2:17 PM ET
You don’t need to be Ashton Kutcher and/or Demi Moore to find sex trafficking repugnant. You don’t even need to be famous at all. You do, however, need to be acquainted with the A list star in one of the series of befuddling videos produced by Mr. and Mrs. Kutcher that aim to … um … teach us that sex trafficking is bad, I’m gonna guess?
"Each year, the global sex slavery market generates $32 billion in profit, while the average age of American girls who are forced into prostitution is only thirteen," reads the YouTube blog post announcing the "Real Men Don’t Buy Girls" video campaign. "Today, some of the biggest celebrities in Hollywood are speaking out against this injustice, and they’re turning to YouTube to make sure the world hears them."
That’s awesome … if Sean Penn ironing himself a grilled cheese sammich and then eating it somehow helps victims of this horrendous practice. That’s what you get in the first video of the campaign, which tells the viewer, "Real men know how to iron. Real men don’t buy girls." Cut to Jessica Biel in a wood-paneled room holding a picture of Edward Norton, assuring us "Edward is a real man."
See kids, that there is what you call a false syllogism – two statements stuck together under the pretense they made the third statement true. And "Real Men Don’t Buy Girls" is full of 'em. Take, for example, the one where Justin Timberlake is fixin’ to shave with a chainsaw, with the message, "Real men prefer a close shave. Real men don’t buy girls." Justin Timberlake may be a "real man," but not because his actions imply he's about to shave with a chainsaw.
"I'm just interpreting the whole thing to mean that any guy who doesn't shave has a sex slave under his floorboards," my co-worker Rosa Golijan said, which is as lucid a message you can hope to glean from the "Real Men Don't Buy Girls" campaign. Beyond that, it's a good bet men who do buy girls don't need Grampa Spicoli gulping a wad of drippy cheese to tell them its wrong. They already know.
But let’s not get lost in semantics. 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.
Whateves. It all comes down to this. Slave trafficking is horrible. It should be stopped. But maybe don’t use the Old Spice blue print on your next set of PSAs. We get it. "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" doesn't smell like a dude who pays for hookups with girls, one would hope. But he also doesn’t make broad jokes on a serious topic via "quirky" videos starring all his famous friends.
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