Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore have founded the DNA (Demi and Ashton) Foundation in a bid to end sex trafficking. A lot of people might role their eyes at the idea of Michael Kelso being an advocate for anything other than special brownies, but Ashton and Demi seem authentic in their quest to make a difference.
I watched Demi Moore in the CNN documentary Nepal’s Stolen Children, and although critics could very easily say she and Ashton are the jejune results of Hollywood — two self-important egomaniacs trying to save the world — I genuinely believe that at their core (or DNA, if you will) is a profound desire to make the world a better place. They are bringing major attention (and hopefully some of their millions) to a terrifying cause that most people know nothing about. I applaud them! The Village Voice, on the other hand, has two thumbs way down.
In an article titled “Real Men Get Their Facts Straight” — a scathing spin on Ashton’s Real Men Don’t Buy Girls YouTube campaign — The Village Voice claims that Ashton grossly exaggerates sex-trafficking statistics, arguing that his statement that between 100,000 and 300,000 children are involved in child prostitution each year in the US is incorrect. After some investigation, The Village Voice claims that in the past decade there have been only 8,263 arrests for child prostitution. That amounts to 827 arrests per year. The article accuses Ashton of spreading “propaganda.” If that’s true, he’s not alone — CNN, The New York Times, Wikipedia, USA Today, C-SPAN and the Orphan Justice Center have also made the claim that child sex trafficking is in the hundred thousands every year.
Ashton has fought back on Twitter, suggesting that the New York City paper has a vested interest in downplaying the sex-trafficking epidemic because it has advertisements for sex workers and runs a “digital brothel.” “REAL MEN DON’T BUY GIRLS and REAL NEWS PUBLICATIONS DON’T SELL THEM,” he tweeted. In response, The Village Voice tweeted, “Don’t spout phony statistics which are then used to justify millions in spending for ‘awareness.’ Victims need beds and counselling.” Ashton has also tweeted many of The Village Voice’s advertisers, including Disney, in the hope they’ll pull their ads from the publication.
Although I appreciate Ashton and Demi’s passion, attacking The Village Voice does nothing to help the DNA Foundation, the lost children of Nepal or the hundreds (or hundreds of thousands?) of child prostitutes in America. In fact, it’s detrimental to what they’re trying to achieve because it enforces the judgment that most people have already come to — that these beautiful superstars are indulging their narcissistic hero complexes instead of truly helping those in need.