Ashton Kutcher’s History of Idiocy: Ubergate, Brownface, Joe Paterno, and More

The Punk’d star suggested it’s OK for Uber, a company he’s invested in, to launch smear campaigns against journalists critical of it. It’s not the first time he’s said something very stupid. 

Robert Cianflone/Getty

“Ashton Kutcher Is Smarter Than You.” That was, believe it or not, the actual headline to a blow-jobby 2009 Newsweek feature on the man who foisted trucker hats, Kabbalah bracelets, and Dude, Where’s My Car? on an unsuspecting and wildly impressionable public.

These days, that headline seems far from prophetic.

Sure, the 36-year-old was one of the first celebs to discover Twitter and has a nice track record as a venture capitalist, throwing bones at startups like Foursquare and Airbnb, and serving as co-founder of the VC firm A-Grade Investments. But he recently shared some bizarre, highly-problematic views while attempting to defend one of the companies he’s invested in, the mobile ridesharing app Uber.

It’s a tale full of sound and fury, told by several idiots, signifying… idiocy. First, BuzzFeedNews reported that Uber planned to launch an escort-like promotion in France pairing riders with “hot chick” drivers. The promo featured several stunning women in their underwear. That led Sarah Lacy, a prolific tech editor at PandoDaily, to proclaim Uber app non grata, firing off a lengthy screed about how it’s a “misogynistic” extension of “asshole culture.” This led Uber executive Emil Michael to suggest at a company dinner that they should consider shelling out “a million dollars” to hire a team of opposition researchers and journalists to fight back against journalists writing negative things about them in the press, saying they’d look into “your personal lives, your families.” Not a big fan of the Fifth Estate, apparently.

So Kutcher, who is an investor in Uber, decided to piggyback off Michael’s statements, tweeting, “What is so wrong about digging up dirt on shady journalist?” He added, “Everyone is guilty and then tasked to defend themselves publicly. Questioning the source needs to happen... Always! So as long as journalist are interested and willing to print half truths [sic] as facts... Yes we should question the source.”

Now, let’s set aside the fact that Kutcher thinks the plural of “journalist” is “journalist.” Even the most simpleminded of people could see how problematic it is for a company like Uber, that maintains detailed travel logs on each of its users, to be threatening to stalk and harass journalists who are merely providing a public service. The company should be more focused on the internal problems that have spurred such widespread criticisms, from their inadequate security to the laundry list of women who have reportedly been assaulted, kidnapped, and even killed by its drivers.

This is far from the first time Kutcher’s swam laps in the sea of stupidity.

Let’s begin with the dumbest thing he’s said—that time he defended Penn State head coach Joe Paterno in the wake of the series of child abuse allegations against his assistant Jerry Sandusky. Back in 2011, Kutcher tweeted (and then deleted): “How do you fire Jo Pa? #insult #noclass as a hawkeye fan I find it in poor taste.” He later apologized for the error, and ceded control of his Twitter handle to his company, Katalyst Media (although not for long). Even George Clooney called him an asshole for the gaffe.

Although it seems Kutcher, a former male model, had a way with words from Jump Street. According to his ex-girlfriend January Jones, while the two were dating in the ‘90s—he as star of That ‘70s Show, she a struggling actress—Jones said Kutcher “was not supportive of my acting” and even told her, “I don’t think you’re going to be good at this.” May I remind you that this is coming from Ashton Kutcher, the star of gems like Just Married, What Happens in Vegas, Valentine’s Day, Killers, and New Year’s Eve, along with the aforementioned Dude, Where’s My Car? (OK, I fuck with Butterfly Effect, but it’s a definite outlier). Jones, meanwhile, has earned a Golden Globe nod as a star on Mad Men, and is featured in the impressive upcoming drone flick Good Kill, opposite Ethan Hawke. Kutcher, meanwhile, is noshing on Charlie Sheen’s table scraps as the star of the neutered CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men.

Then, in 2008, while promoting the TCM-ready What Happens in Vegas, Kutcher gave a bizarre interview to MTV where he went on a tangent about breasts. First, he claimed that lumbar support was invented to show off women’s breasts.

“I think some guy invented [lumbar support] for women to get their breasts up,” he told MTV. “Because when you hit it, it really elevates the upper body. Your window’s right here, so if they’re slumped, you don’t get to see their breasts, but if you hit the Lumbar thing, it’s like oh!”

Later in the interview, he claimed high heels were also invented to show off women’s breasts. “That’s what high heels are for, right?” he said. “Butt out, boobs out. I talked to Tommy Hilfiger about that. He actually told me specifically that the high heel was invented for that very thing.” High heels were invented for men first, by the way.

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There’s more. In 2011, Kutcher served as guest editor of an online-only version of Details magazine—you know, the one with the cologne inserts read at barbershops—and failed to disclose his investment or advisor status in “over a dozen companies” that were profiled in the issue, reported The New York Times. In the wake of the dust-up, Richard Cleland, the assistant director of the FTC, stated, “It’s certainly a possibility that a case like this could be investigated,” but the FTC later declined to investigate further. But Kutcher didn’t really learn his lesson, either. Later that year, he plugged several of his startup companies on an episode of Two and a Half Men without issuing adequate disclaimers, reported CBS News.

It appears 2011 just wasn’t a great year for Kutcher. A month after the Two and a Half Men episode aired, a San Diego woman named Sara Leal came out and claimed that Kutcher had cheated on his then-wife, Demi Moore, with her. Twice. Sans rubber.

“The last thing I remember him saying was he did a good job,” Leal told People. “We woke up and I was wearing a robe. He opened it up and I was like, ‘What are you doing?’ He was like, ‘Just checking. OK, I did good! You're really pretty.’”

Then, in 2012, Kutcher thought it was a fun idea to appear in brownface in an ad for Popchips. He played “Raj,” a creepy, incredibly horny Bollywood producer looking for love. Indian people, naturally, weren’t crazy about the ad, so it was pulled after thousands of complaints. Worse, Kutcher never even so much as apologized for the incident.

During the summer of 2013, I had the pleasure of attending a taping of The Colbert Report. If you haven’t been, you should before it’s too late. Colbert motored through the entire shoot, never requiring so much as a second take or flubbing a line. His guest that day was supposed to be Daft Punk, but they pulled out at the last minute and were replaced by Kutcher, who was there promoting his turn as Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in the biopic Jobs. On the show, Kutcher told a story that didn’t make the final cut about visiting Apple when they were developing the iPhone and claimed he suggested they include the autocorrect function on it—in other words, he claimed he invented autocorrect.

I can’t speak to the veracity of his claim, but if it’s true, I have one thing to say: Duck you, Ashton Kutcher.