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Ashton Kutcher Delivers a Powerful Message to Our Teens

Photo by: DFree Shutterstock.com

As usual, the Teen Choice Awards last week was a fast paced, poorly scripted, seizure-inducing display of wardrobe choices featuring an array of questionable talent and way too many utterances of the word “awesome”.

Oh, and twerking.

Lots of twerking.

Because that’s apparently what resonates with teenagers today.

But amidst all the saggy-butt jeans and the “Peace Outs” and the booty bouncing, one celebrity came along and surprisingly, delivered a real message.

A message that was packed with wisdom and insight; a message that, if it resonated with only a fraction of the teens that the twerking did, is good enough.

Ashton Kutcher was presented with the “Ultimate Choice Award” and surprised everyone with his acceptance speech..

I’ve always liked Ashton Kutcher despite the questionable choice of being Demi Moore’s boy toy for six years. He’s funny and charming and has always been appealing to me in a lovable, doofusy kind of way. But because of the types of characters he’s played, I’ve never thought of him as particularly thoughtful and insightful (i.e. intelligent ), until he delivered that speech at the Teen Choice Awards.

By now I’m sure most of you have seen it or heard about it because it’s been all over the internet this past week. It went viral because it was honest and genuine, heart-felt and even wise which is ironic coming from a guy who is known for playing an absent-minded teenager on television. It’s not just because of what he said, but the message behind his words that got so many people talking. It was a powerful message to today’s teenagers.

To the die-hard Christopher Ashton Kutcher fans, his initial confession of having used his middle name throughout his professional career might not have been shocking news (it was to me): it was what he told the kids about the “amazing things he learned when he was ‘Chris’” — before all the fame, before all the fortune and before the millions of screaming teenage girls. This is a message that has been missing for far too long, and is a message that is important for this generation to hear.

What he said:
“Opportunity looks a lot like hard work… I’ve never had a job in my life that I was better than… every job I had was a stepping stone to my next job… and I never quit my job until I had my next job.”

The message:
Don’t ever assume you are owed anything.

Teenagers today are growing up in a world where things are made easy for them, and they, in turn, expect them to be. As a result they are often recalcitrant and apathetic. They give up. They complain. They want so much… but want to do so little for it. The phrase “It’s not fair” shouldn’t be part of their vernacular. Hard work is fair, and it’s imperative for them to understand that to get the things they want in life, they will have to work hard, unfailingly, for them.

There’s more than a few adults out there who could benefit from that same message.

What he said:
“The sexiest thing in the entire world is being really smart… and being thoughtful and being generous. Everything else is crap… that people try to sell to you to make you feel like less. So don’t buy it.”

The message:
You are more than what is on the outside, and don’t let anybody tell you differently.

In a world where our kids are inundated with different ideas about what is “sexy” — from the magazine covers they see in the grocery store to the television shows they watch to the music they listen to — it’s not surprising they might be confused. The celebrities they admire are over-airbrushed, over-hair extensioned, over-tanned and under-fed. They are a complete misrepresentation of what is real. But, sadly, it is the message that’s being sent… and received.

So for a celebrity who, ironically, was once People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” runner-up, to tell them that “being sexy” is all about qualities found on the inside and to ignore whatever else the media (or anyone) tries to tell you was powerful (and surely made all the girls in the audience who were wearing Barbie shorts and stripper heels feel really stupid).

What he said:
“Everything around us that we call ‘life’ was made up by people that are no smarter than you… Build a life, don’t live one.”

The message:
Don’t like what you see? Don’t agree with something you hear? Then work to change it. Don’t settle for living inside the life and the world that other people — people just like you — created.

Listen, there’s plenty of people who are happy to live the life others have built and that’s certainly their prerogative. But if you’re not — if you want things in your life to be different — then it is up to you to try to make that happen. Don’t blame others for things that you could do something about.

It’s like the famous quote says, “Be The Change You Wish To See In The World.” Is it always as easy as it sounds? Not at all.

But remember, “Opportunity looks a lot like hard work.”

So if you thought Ashton Chris Kutcher was just another entitled Hollywood elitist, or an overgrown teenager who made a fortune playing pranks, or even just a “lovable doofus”, you were wrong. You can’t dispute the fact that he delivered a smart and powerfully important message to our teens. A message that most of them ignore when it’s coming from their parents.

I know my teens listened.

Right before standing up and twerking with Harry Styles.

Michelle Newman wears many hats – wife, mother, vet, maid, therapist and personal assistant to the other three members of her household. Her work has recently been included in the best selling humor anthology, ‘I Just Want To Pee Alone.’ Michelle writes about her family, the absurdity of celebrity life, and anything else she can find hidden humor in over at her blog You’re My Favorite Today as well as on Facebook and Twitter (although she sucks at Twitter).

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