In the mood to “vlog out a little thought,” Ashton Kutcher posted a perplexing, now viral, video on Chime.in last Thursday.
Dressed in celebrity-drag (the concealing, hooded, baggy couture superstars favour), long-haired and bearded, the actor states, reflectively, that he wants to start “a little dialogue” about “the status of truth.”
Seemingly consumed with sadness and sequestered in an old-school rec room, Kutcher cites a Kabbalist theorist who believes there is an inverse relationship between honesty and access to publication.
Long ago, Kutcher elaborates, publishers were “gatekeepers” who held “great scrutiny over” literature.
Because printing was such a costly venture, the publisher’s “reputation” was on the line with each “text.”
But as the costs “plummeted,” as so many of us are self-publishing without “diligence,” the truth has become “bastardized.”
This is the essence of what Kutcher asks us to “feast on,” so let us ruminate.
It must be noted, first, that the vlog’s language is uncomfortably lofty: when Kutcher refers, over and over, to texts and literature, what does he mean?
I have never stopped being harassed by poorly worded, antagonistic copies of the Watchtower (the Jehovah’s Witnesses publication, sold door-to-door). Was there a time when they were more expensive, and therefore more judicious about publication, more diligent about circulating drawings of non-Witnesses dying in the flames of Hell?
When secular literature, conversely, became highly accessible, were books like Moby Dick, or Hammer of the Gods for that matter, axiomatically, “bastardized” by virtue of their relative (to Piers Plowman) availability?
Further, the video is opaque in its purpose: If this was designed to address rumours of Kutcher’s gross infidelities to his wife, Demi Moore, why can’t he be honest about his intentions?
Finally, how can Kutcher, whose career is indebted to the social network Twitter, where millions followed him after he staged a followers-war with CNN in 2009, decry the way in which information is currently being transmitted?
Still, in his circumlocutive, tremulous way, the new star of Two and a Half Men (standing in for producer Chuck Lorre’s prideful rage) genuinely does, in this woebegone vlog, open up an intriguing dialogue.
The problem, however, is that people do not speak to each other very much online. Social networking has become, increasingly, an occasion for unchecked monologues, making one almost nostalgic for the days when we were all sending out rounds of e-Mai Tais via Facebook.
Kutcher’s Twitter account ( @aplusk) is somewhat interactive, but speaking to celebrities on such sites is always essentially fraudulent.
They rarely answer; they are approached with loathing or passionate love. In spite of Mr. and “Mrs. Kutcher's" (Moore’s Twitter name) friendly greetings and stream of feel-good advice – “Work on loving yourself. Happiness is an inside job” – does this multi-millionaire couple actually wish to be friends with their followers?
Kutcher travels with hulking bodyguards; his reclusive wife appears to enjoy, above all, the company of her (actual) house of dolls.
Kutcher has used the unchecked, diligence-free Internet to further an image of himself as a nice, political guy, a sports fan, a married man with a sense of humour.
But the Empire struck back.
Suddenly, the compelling testimony of 22-year-old Sara Leal, who swears to have had sex with Kutcher the night of his and Moore’s sixth anniversary, is everywhere, as are hacked phone messages that suggest that he has been cheating all along.
And his show’s ratings are dropping each week; each week, thousands of appalled comments are posted about his performance. Shouldn't Kutcher exercise greater discretion, if not in his own private life, in his scarcely credible assault on the truth?
In the interest of dialoguing, one wonders, are we now receiving a fake version of Kutcher through “literature and the media” (in his words)?
Should we, as he suggests, start “utilizing our full capacities” to apprehend the truth?
Kutcher is right about the ubiquity of unchecked written materials: What he fails to mention is the malice behind so much of what is written.
He says that because no one’s reputation is at stake, misinformation flourishes, but the opposite is also true.
One can, one always could, make a reputation by telling salacious whole, half, or untruths about stars.
Especially ones who allow themselves to be photographed with chatty party girls.
The vlog is compelling for its hidden message: I’m beautiful, famous and rich. Why is everyone being so mean to me?