Future ‘Two and a Half Men’ star and alternative-weekly mainstay lock horns over human trafficking
Furious over a Village Voice story that argued he and wife Demi Moore have used inflated numbers to raise awareness of underage prostitution, Ashton Kutcher has started reaching out to the publication's advertisers.
A Voice story reported this week that there are far fewer teenage prostitutes in the country that Kutcher and others have argued. While Kutcher and other advocates have said the number of those at risk is between 100,000 and 300,000, the Voice cited arrest data to suggest the number of underage prostitutes is actually in the hundreds or thousands. The Voice also argued for more funding for victims of child prostitution.
Kutcher attacked the story on Twitter Thursday, suggesting The Voice wasn't serious about the issue; The Voice invited Kutcher to dispute specific facts within the story.
And that's when Kutcher took the nuclear option, accusing The Voice of allowing advertising of underage prostitutes in its publication. Seizing on his vast Twitter influence, he began tweeting to advertisers directly.
"Hey @AmericanAir," he wrote to American Airlines. "Are you aware that you are advertising on a site that supports the Sale of Human Beings (slavery)?"
"We will address this IMMEDIATELY. Can you please DM us detail of the site, including a link?" the company responded.
Kutcher later tweeted that the company told him the ads would be down soon.
The Voice replied with a lengthy blog post standing by the findings of its story and calling for support of a Senate bill to provide funding for shelter and counseling for underage prostitutes.
The Voice targeted Kutcher because of his involvement in the Demi and Ashton Foundation (DNA), which seeks to end human trafficking. Last year, the pair launched a campaign titled "Real Men Don't Buy Girls," which the Voice played off of with its cover line, "Real Men Get Their Facts Straight."
Michael Lacey, executive editor of Village Voice Media, denied to TheWrap that the Voice runs ads promoting underage prostitutes in its pages.
A spokesperson for American Airlines tells TheWrap that Kutcher's claim about American pulling its advertising from The Voice "appears to be rumor and speculation. I am not aware of any such action."