When I saw an article last week saying that Ashton Kutcher was doing online dating, you can imagine that I gave my computer screen a double-take. Really? How will he go undetected as a celebrity? Would he use the username “2.5Men” and the tagline, “Better off sans Demi,” for his Match.com profile?
But, alas, Ashton had not actually signed up for an online dating site, much to the dismay of some of his groupies, I’m sure. Instead, he was promoting the snack company PopChips through a commercial spoofing all those online dating ads. In the ad, Kutcher portrays himself as several different single men looking for dates. This list includes “Raj” from India, a Bollywood producer seeking “the most delicious thing on the planet,” who apparently has the hots for Kim Kardashian and Snooki. The ad caused an uproar because Ashton wore “brownface” for the video and used an accent. It was actually quite a funny video, but was it wrong?
The CEO of PopChips has since apologized, and the ad was pulled immediately. That wasn’t enough to stop the Twitterverse, which came up with trends such as #BoycottPopChips and tweets like, “Newsflash to @PopChips – never heard of you before. Now I’ll see your name and think ‘racists’ not ‘yummy snack’ Fail!”
It’s not for me to decide whether the video was racist or not. But what the ad does show is that online dating has most definitely become mainstream. If Hollywood can make jokes about it, and even big-name stars consider going online, then there’s no reason not to give online dating a shot yourself. Jack Black has gotten in on the action, too, pitching an online dating sitcom to NBC. That should be a fun one to watch. I wonder what will come next…
Erika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people stand out from the online dating crowd and have a rewarding experience. An archive of all of Erika’s columns is also available. Want to connect with Erika? Join her newsletter for updates and tips.