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The Echo

The Student News Site of Tenafly High School

The Echo

The Student News Site of Tenafly High School

The Echo

This Week In Tiger Sports

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Accountability in the Spotlight: Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher’s Character Letter Controversy

Wikimedia Commons Photos. Creative Commons

Celebrity Actors Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher have found themselves at the center of a media storm for their problematic character letters written for their co-worker and longtime friend: Danny Masterson. Masterson was recently sentenced to 30 years to life in jail for two counts of rape. His crimes were undeniably appalling; in 2003 he was convicted of drugging and raping two women on separate occasions.

After meeting on the set of the celebrated sitcom That ’70s Show, Kunis, Kutcher, and Masterson formed close friendships. Due to their personal connections, Kunis and Kutcher were requested to provide character letters, which are a common practice in legal proceedings to show support for a defendant. In these letters, they praised the person they knew him to be: a great father, friend, and husband. However, they also emphasized Masterson’s objection to drugs. Kutcher stated in his letter that he “attribute[s] not falling into the typical Hollywood life of drugs directly to Danny.” The victims had claimed that Masterson had drugged them, but Kutcher and Kunis implied within their letters that they didn’t think Masterson would commit such a crime.

On September 9, 2023, Kunis and Kutcher posted an apology video on Instagram. In the video, they apologized for their actions and clarified that their intention was not to discredit the victims or re-traumatize them. This clearly contradicts their focus on Masterson’s opposition to drugs in their letters, which, as stated before, impairs the victim’s accusations of drug rape. As in most celebrity videos, viewers found their scripted delivery less than sincere. Neither of them expected the letters to ever be shared with the public, and the video came off more as an explanation than an apology.

The controversy surrounding Kutcher and Kunis is further fueled by Kutcher’s involvement in his non-profit organization against child trafficking called Thorn. In creating this organization, he has taken a strong position against sexual abuse. Kunis has joined in with her husband to fight and advocate for sexual assault victims. Kutcher identifies as an anti-rape activist and focuses on using his position of fame to fight sexual abuse and trafficking. This leads to why people are so angry. They wonder: how could someone who defends sexual abuse and child trafficking to these lengths try to vindicate an accused rapist prior to his conviction? 

This situation calls into question the US justice system and the justification of the reasoning behind these letters. Kutcher and Kunis were asked to write character letters in order to display the full picture of Danny Masterson aside from his horrendous crimes. This does not entirely suggest that people who are asked to write character letters do not care about the victims. There are many factors that come into play; it is not just a black-and-white situation. The issue here lies in the fact that Kunis and Kutcher have displayed more empathy for a convicted rapist just because they know him as a “good guy” than they have for his victims. They have displayed that they refuse to believe he is capable of something like this just because they have had positive experiences with him.

The story of these former co-stars is a testament to life in the public eye, especially when it comes down to the intersection of fame and the justice system. Accountability is essential, particularly for celebrities who wield influence and success. The controversy also serves as a reminder that it is vital to prioritize support for survivors. 

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About the Contributor
Jordan Yanowitz, Staff Writer
Jordan Yanowitz ('25) is excited to cover stories discussing entertainment, sports, student life, and current events. In her free time, she enjoys baking desserts, playing soccer, traveling, and listening to music.