Dude, where’s my Ashton Kutcher?

After seeing it re-posted over and over again, I finally decided to watch the video of Ashton’s…er…Chris’?….er…..Mr. Kutcher’s Teen Choice Award speech.  Needless to say it was good and a breath of fresh air from Hollywood.  Although Mr. Kutcher is usually, at least in my mind, immediately associated with his characters in “That 70’s Show” and “Dude, Where’s My Car?”, I’ve discovered a new respect for him.  If he was here, I’d say, “That was sweet, dude.”

Mr. Kutcher did say some important things.  Things which this generation needs to hear and which represent important themes for living in any culture.  And while I understand how it becomes a big deal when a Hollywood celeb unexpectedly spouts off real wisdom to a captive audience of teenagers, my cynical side wants to shout that this is what every youth pastor I know does every week.  We’re not as flashy, or sexy (no matter how you define it), but if you like Kutcher you should check us out too.

Ok, I get that it’s not the same. But it is true.  Here’s what Kutcher did that is a regular part of the Youth Pastor tool box.

He demonstrated personal vulnerability that allowed us a glimpse into his personal life.  By confessing that he feels like a “fraud” and announcing his real first name to the world, we saw a piece of who he really is.  Not to mention his laundry list of jobs.  All of this goes to help kids identify him as a real person.  It’s like he took this straight from a Doug Fields training manual.

He presented them a real challenge and how it affected his life.  Personally, I loved his line about never having a job that he was better than.  How many youth talks have we all given on hard work, taking advantage of opportunities and perseverance?  I doubt that Mr. Kutcher lives under any fantasies about this being the first time teenagers have heard this.  Here we give credit to everyone: parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches, etc… And while it is easy to get frustrated by Kutcher’s immediate credit for something we do all the time, let’s just be thankful for the support.

He debunked a wordly, cultural lie.  Welcome to every youth group in America, bro.  Though I won’t deny Mr. Kutcher’s due credit for doing this as an insider, I need to say, that this is pretty much our job.  Telling kids that popular culture has deceived them about  topics like sexiness, fulfillment, money, success has been brought to an art form by most of the youth pastors I know.

He offered them an inspirational alternative for how to live life.  You don’t have to love everything he said here and I don’t want to debate Jesus’ “giving up of life” vs. Kutcher’s (Jobs’?) “building your life”.  Just recognize that every Wednesday night in your local church there are adults inspiring students to live their lives differently.

Overall, I think what Mr. Kutcher did was a good thing (though, again cynically, it might prove better for his career than for any real societal change) and I hope that he keeps it up, living out the values that he espouses.  Longevity of virtue in nationally recognized figures is, if anything refreshing, and quite possibly very influential.

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