Ashton Kutcher is well known for his acting career, but he's also a very successful Internet entrepreneur. His Twitter account alone has more than 10 million followers. But a recent attempt at combining the two careers appears to be backfiring in some circles.
Kutcher has teamed with the snack food company Pop Chips to launch a series of fake dating service commercials featuring the all-natural chips. In each of the videos, Kutcher portrays a different persona. The problem, at least amongst many of his followers online, is that in one of the videos, the character he portrays appears to represent racial stereotypes.
In the video above, Kutcher portrays "Raj," an Indian man and Bollywood film producer looking for love via the fictional "World Wide Lovers" dating service. Throughout the video, Kutcher enacts a number of Indian stereotypes, though the aspect most offensive to viewers seems to be that Kutcher is dressed in "brown face" makeup.
On Twitter, writer and self-described tech geek Anil Dash has written a number of missives to Kutcher, Pop Chips and the other companies involved in the video's promotion, asking for clarification and predicting a forthcoming apology from those involved.
"Aside from an obligatory 'We apologize if anyone was offended,' I'm curious about all the people who had to have given approval earlier," Dash wrote in one tweet.
And rapper/producer P. Diddy chimed in as well on Twitter, writing:
"[M]y man @aplusk is back on the dating scene"
Though in fairness to these three celebrities, none of them linked back directly to the "Raj" video, though Seacrest's personal website does include an image of it.
In sum, all the Kutcher videos represent various stereotypes, though the rest of them are not as likely to create such controversy: One focuses on Swordfish, who is meant to represent a biker and/or redneck; another portrays Darl, who might appear a bit homophobic; and in the third video, "Nigel," Kutcher mocks a fictional European pothead with delusions of being a Rastafarian.
And while this incident is still unfolding online, it wouldn't be the first social media controversy for Kutcher. Last November, the actor apologized after his Twitter account was used to publish what many considered an offensive and ill-informed comment about the Penn State child sexual abuse case.
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