The Tao of Ashton


Guest post by Matt Huttner

The stage is set. We are at the Teen Choice Awards, which, if I remember my classics, Dante referred to as the 6th Layer of Hell, and Ashton Kutcher steps up to the plate to deliver what will undoubtedly be absolute drivel. This is the star of such cinematic gems as Dude, Where’s My Car? and My Boss’s Daughter, a man whose scene-chewing acting cannot stand up to the likes of Cameron Diaz and Katherine Heigl. He has just been handed a strangely appropriate giant surf board, and turns to address his adoring fans. The content of this speech should fall safely between ‘Woooo! ” and” Yeaaahhh!” What does he do?

He fucking KILLS it. His speech is insightful, structured, and important. He speaks with a passion and clarity rarely seen anywhere, let alone in D list celebs. He is self-deprecating and honest, and delivers a message that should and will inspire a generation of future leaders.

Now, I had heard that Ashton was branching out as a tech investor, but I assumed that was the typical vanity project of an overly-capitalized star. We no longer just have to contend with celebrities going after the acting-singing-modeling trifecta (see Murphy, Eddie and the seminal “My Girl Wants to Party All the Time”) but nowadays when Snoop Dogg runs a Pop Warner football team or Britney launches a new fragrance, no one bats an eye. These ventures are usually successful, but only in the way that things powered by unlimited money and global fame often are.

Ladies and gentlemen, this changes everything. If Ashton possesses this kind of talent, we need to move quickly. Let’s bring in Seann William Scott to hear his thoughts on the Israel-Palestine conflict. Do you think Gucci Mane is available for the next carbon offset summit? Hell, Dennis Rodman is already helping out with the North Korea situation.

What are the takeaways from Chris Ashton Kutcher’s breakout performance? First of all, although he summed it up far more eloquently than I will, the principles of his speech are worth repeating here: opportunity looks like hard work, smart is sexy, and build a life, don’t just live one. Really powerful stuff.

From a higher level, if you’ll indulge me in a conceit, I think this teaches all of us to ask the following question: what if Ashton Kutcher’s career up to this point, or any other inexplicable annoyance in our lives, is nothing more than akin to drinking a warm can of PBR beer? Hear me out.

Many of us, in our vulnerable early teenage years, are introduced to drinking via bargain-basement, terrible beer. And indeed, smuggled cans of Natty Ice furtively chugged in the back of Teddy Lee’s Subaru are just gross. Unless you can appreciate them as the first steps of a life-long journey; as a rite of passage that might lead to a rich, nuanced world of adult pleasure.

Going forward, when I encounter something obviously offensive (much like almost all of Kutcher’s movies), I’m going to pause for just a minute. What if this is heading somewhere? What if this actor, musician, artist, teacher, coworker, or parent has a deeper level, and all it will take is a few face-twisting swigs before I can get to it?

All of us are guilty of pigeonholing people, most of all ourselves. I’m not saying everything has a silver lining, and this is certainly not another tired plea for you to be nicer to that geek in high-school, because one day he will be a wealthy entrepreneur. Or to go ahead and rewatch the Fast and the Furious heptalogy to mine undiscovered genius. Spoiler alert; Paul Walker is a moron.

But it is a call to seek talent in unexpected places and keep an open mind. I for one am now examining my own life, and seeing where and how I can completely step out of the ways I have previously defined my personality, lifestyle, and career and surprise everyone in a positive way.

5 Replies to “The Tao of Ashton”

  1. Great post Matt. I just heard about this this morning, and while I’m still not impressed with Ashton’s smarts, I am pleasantly with how he’s trying to live his live. Good work Chris Kutcher!

  2. I’m of 2 minds about this Ashton viral phenomenon: on the one hand, it was certainly an atypical speech coming from the least expected person, possibly indicating a depth previously unsuspected.
    On the other hand, it also coincided with the release of his new Jobs movie about Steve Jobs (for which I think he’s quite obviously poorly cast), leading to a chicken and the egg query: is the newly introspective Ashton a publicity genius driving sales to his movie (which would otherwise go widely unwatched), or has he simply always been misunderstood and finally found a role to express the other side of himself.

    In either case, be it the revalation of a truly motivational person, or the machinations of a PR genius, Ashton definitely showed something heretofore unseen. Very cool.

    1. Truth! He is a horrible Steve Jobs, though there is some similarity during Jobs’ homeless look phase. I watched this interview with Ashton on the Verge a week or two ago and it’s pretty funny when he tries to act like he can do accents. He’s basically just Ashton wearing a turtleneck. But he does seem genuinely interested in technology and has proven his marketing chops before. He seems like a pretty genuine guy if still not that impressive.

  3. “Hey guy, you’re tall and handsome and you are a real life character. Here’s a bunch of money to go basically be yourself, but in bell bottoms, followed by a string of movies where again you will not be terribly challenged but you will continue to receive ever-growing boatloads of cash. Plus, while you’re at it, you may or may not cultivate yourself into a real, worthwhile person. At your leisure, of course. Enjoy.”

    Yeah, I’d have said yes to that too. Kinda hard to hate on the guy.

    Just out of curiosity, what makes him such a terrible Steve Jobs? Is that movie already out or is that speculation?

    1. Well, if you’ve ever watched a movie with him in it, it might answer the question of what makes him a terrible Steve Jobs: its the fact that he’s a terrible actor. I haven’t seen it, but let me know if he surprises. That would be another impressive trick up his sleeve.

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