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OTRC: Ashton Kutcher targets Village Voice advertisers, battle escalates

Ashton Kutcher appears in a photo posted on his Facebook page on Feb. 27, 2009. / Ashton Kutcher appears on the cover of the June 29 edition of The Village Voice. (facebook.com/Ashton / Village Voice Media)

Ashton Kutcher's battle with the Village Voice over child sex slavery escalated on Friday when the actor targeted the paper's advertisers and told them that they are supporting a "digital brothel."

The quarrel began when the Village Voice published the article "Real Men Get Their Facts Straight" on Wednesday, which criticized Kutcher's "Real Men Don't Buy Girls" campaign.

Kutcher, who is vocal on Twitter with over 7 million followers, launched an attack against the New York weekly on the social networking site and began Tweeting advertisers like American Airlines, Disney, Domino's and Columbia University, urging them to cut ties with Village Voice Media.

The highly influential star has already successfully convinced American Airlines to drop their ads and Domino's Pizza might follow.

On Saturday morning, the Village Voice referred to Kutcher's efforts as "censorship" and wrote on Twitter that they would "keep spending millions to keep kids out of our adult pages, no matter how much @aplusk (Ashton Kutcher) keeps trying to silence us."

Kutcher told the New York weekly that he has a "team of people willing to help" with that effort, shortly after he Tweeted, "The cry of a company waking up to its failure will never be as loud as the tears shed by the girls trafficked on its platform."

In April, Kutcher and his wife Demi Moore told Piers Morgan that there are "between 100,000 and 300,000 child sex slaves in the United States today," adding: "If you don't do something to stop that, that's when there is something wrong with you, in my opinion."

The Village Voice wrote in their article that the statistic "was hatched without regard to science. It is a bogeyman." Though between "100,000 and 300,000" is a range used by The New York Times, CNN and USA Today, among others.

The weekly reported that there are an average of 827 child prostitution arrests per year in the United States and that the origin of the number often used came from a 2001 study which referenced the number of children "at risk" for sexual exploitation.

Kutcher fired back at the weekly, writing, "Hey @villagevoice speaking of data, maybe you can help me... How much $ did your 'escorts' in your classifieds on backpage make last year?"

In his Tweets, the actor also referred to a 2010 lawsuit filed against Village Voice Media by a 15-year-old sex trafficking victim who claims the company aided and abetted prostitution ads in their classifieds website, Backpage.com.

Kutcher also posted a link to a discussion group on sex trafficking, where he had written, "Human trafficking data is extremely incomplete due to the psychological complexity of the issue and the lack of funding that has been allocated to research... Proving force, fraud, or coercion can be very difficult considering that the victims have often times been brain washed, beaten, raped, molested, threatened, and tormented and fear revealing the identity of their trafficker."

The Village Voice also criticized Kutcher's "Real Men Don't Buy Girls" PSAs, which feature celebrities like Sean Penn, Justin Timberlake, Drake, Jason Mraz and Bradley Cooper doing "manly things" like making a grilled cheese sandwich with an iron and fighting a robot. The weekly said the PSAs "reek of frat-boy humor."

Kutcher, 33, is known for playing naive Michael Kelso on the comedy series "That 70's Show" between 1998 and 2006 and for hosting the hidden camera prank show "Punk'd" for MTV between 2003 and 2009. He recently starred opposite Natalie Portman in the romantic comedy movie "No Strings Attached."

In May, the actor was cast to replace Charlie Sheen on CBS' "Two and a Half Men."

Do you think the Village Voice is right to criticize Ashton Kutcher's efforts? Watch Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher's Piers Morgan appearance and one of the "Real Men Don't Buy Girls" PSAs below and vote in our poll.

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