Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore are behind a new line of lighthearted ads with the theme "Real Men Don't Buy Girls." The spots feature celebrities (Bradley Cooper, Drake, Jamie Foxx, Jason Mraz, Sean Penn and Justin Timberlake) as examples of "real men" doing intentionally overdramatized and dramatically narrated "manly" activities. They’re reminiscent of corny beer or cologne commercials.
The angle: Poke fun at the masculinity of anyone who would engage in child sex trafficking. And do it, as Kutcher put it, with "that offbeat feel of 'Funny or Die.' "
For the somber and sensitive issue of child sex trafficking to be linked up with "offbeat" and "funny" is jarring, to say the least. And that — which we're sure is no surprise to Kutcher and Moore — is what has made the commercials controversial.
Salon's Tracy Clark-Foray, while admitting she "can't hate too hard" on the ads, says they "don't communicate a new message, so much as cast anti-child-sex-trafficking as the hip new celebrity-endorsed cause." Videogum calls them "insane" and "bonkers" and says, "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." Gawker's Richard Lawson wants to know, "What was anyone thinking?"
Are these ads totally tone deaf, or a brilliant example of doing whatever it takes (including shocking, confusing and offending viewers if necessary) to draw attention to a cause we can all agree is important?
Check out Jamie Foxx's spot here:
Read more and watch the rest of the ads at Gawker.
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