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Opportunity looks a lot like hard work.
August 19, 2013 6:26 PM   Subscribe

Ashton Kutcher gives a surprisingly good speech at the Teen Choice awards.
posted by Navelgazer (52 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
I loved this speech. I actually wasn't that surprised. He's really interested in the tech world and before becoming a model/actor, he went to college to study biochemical engineering because his twin brother has a serious heart problem and had needed a transplant.

Plus he's like a few weeks older than me so that's cool. I know he has a partially deserved rep for "doucheyness" or whatever but you can't really know people.
posted by sweetkid at 6:34 PM on August 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


That was good. I am surprised. I like being surprised.
posted by minervous at 6:38 PM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, Rush liked it, whatever that means.

The guy (Ashton, not Rush) is really pretty articulate, here's a speech he did at ideajam a couple of years ago.

Here he is speaking about volunteering/service.
posted by HuronBob at 6:41 PM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


[Foreman]: Kelso? What the hell was that?
[Hyde]: Yeah. It's so *snerk* conscientious.
[Fez]: He's sexy now! More than before! He's sexy going both ways!
[Kelso]: Yeah, Fez. My sexyness now goes both ways.
posted by Talez at 6:48 PM on August 19, 2013 [7 favorites]


He's no Russell Brand.
posted by fungible at 6:53 PM on August 19, 2013


#2 was the best
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:59 PM on August 19, 2013


Well, Rush liked it, whatever that means.

Nobody at the Top will allow themselves to ponder the possibility that this is NOT a Meritocracy. I'm sure all the Kardashians like it too.
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:03 PM on August 19, 2013 [8 favorites]


I had a friend who was on an episode of Two and a Half Men, so I went to watch her shoot it. Afterward, we hung out for a bit. Kutcher had a massive trailer outside the studio and apparently threw parties for the cast after each episode wrapped, with pizza and whatnot. There was a little girl on the show at the time, who played his girlfriend's daughter, and he spent the entire party doting on her, like the most awesome older brother ever.

I had never had any ill will toward him previously, but it was impossible not to be impressed by how terrifically, unself-consciously sweet he was at that moment.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:11 PM on August 19, 2013 [26 favorites]


I'm sure that "opportunities look a lot like work" when you look like Ashton Kutcher. And good for him for saying that "acting", not "modeling" was the reason he changed his name.

There's nothing wrong with having some privilege. But there's everything wrong with not ackmowledging it.
posted by graphnerd at 7:24 PM on August 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


In other words: uggghhh. Stop it, California
posted by graphnerd at 7:26 PM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Opportunity is what allows your hard work to count for something.


You were under the impression
That when you were walking forward
That you'd end up further onward
But things ain't quite that simple

posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:27 PM on August 19, 2013 [11 favorites]


He's saying all this earnest shit... trying to share something meaningful and sincere... meanwhile the crowd is just like SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
posted by prefpara at 7:28 PM on August 19, 2013 [13 favorites]


pearls of wisdom before swine.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 7:30 PM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Are young girls tumblring his advice? Because that might be the marker that he got through the squee.

Personally, though I love the idea that "opportunity looks like hard work," I found his point about sexiness being about brains/smarts quite trite. I'd like to believe that some of those screaming kids in the crowd listened to him and believed him, but his "stay sexy" and pointing to his head was just a ridiculous way to end.
posted by crossoverman at 7:32 PM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


meanwhile the crowd is just like SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

I know! they should be sitting quietly and taking notes, with only a few sobs of humble gratitude as they realize the import of the wisdom they've just felt flow over them...
posted by HuronBob at 7:32 PM on August 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


You should see his commencement speech. All fart jokes.
posted by NedKoppel at 7:38 PM on August 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


The internets attribute a similar quote about opportunity and work to Thomas Edison:

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like hard work."

I think there's some meta-commentary to be had that Kutcher's re-delivery makes him competitive against Edison when searching for "opportunity looks like work."
posted by weston at 7:39 PM on August 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


Eh, he's right and all so far as it goes, I guess.

But, then - my dad busted his ass for decades and what did he get at the end ? A broken body and a denied pension well, till the union sued and got it paid to him lump sump, anyway

Point is, hard work is great, but hard work at what ? If you don't own the product of your labor, then why work so hard at it ?

And you know what has to sit in my dad's craw ? I'm the laziest fucker he knows, and I make far more than ever did. My arrogant, self-centered, inborn sense of entitlement guaranteed that.

America is not a meriticracy. America is a Marketocracy. The better you are at peddling bullshit, the better off you'll be. Honest and humble hard work is for suckers, and you'll be doing that to your grave. Convince others that you are the best thing since sliced bread, and it doesn't matter how good you are, you'll make a mint. Ask Mitt, or Newt, or PandoDouche whatserface - they all make way more than you, and for far less actual value to humanity.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:51 PM on August 19, 2013 [34 favorites]


I liked it. I made my 13 yr old son watch it too. It's a good message delivered in a couple of quick minutes. I will not fault the man in any way for taking his moment in front of that squealing audience and trying to say something useful.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 7:54 PM on August 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


My favorite line is "everything around us that we call life is made up by people that are no smarter than you."

I think that line is basically true. We all have our specialties/passions/etc and we all have the potential to be doing great things in our own unique ways.
posted by qivip at 8:02 PM on August 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


My favorite line is "everything around us that we call life is made up by people that are no smarter than you.

It's a powerful thing that's easy to forget.
posted by sweetkid at 8:04 PM on August 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


That was a bit serious for the occasion but props to him on saying it in front of the people whom this advice would really help.

Seems making that Steve Jobs movie has had some long lasting impact on him
posted by TheLittlePrince at 8:10 PM on August 19, 2013


did they bus that audience in from the Daily Show? Yeah Ashton, they aren't smarter but they sure as hell are a lot better looking aren't they? If my kids ever take advice from some no talent pretty boy who's greatest claim to fame is playing pranks on c-list celebrities please someone call child services and take them away. If you let your children watch these type of award shows you are part of the problem.
posted by any major dude at 8:11 PM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, please.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 8:14 PM on August 19, 2013 [13 favorites]


the worst bosses i've ever had also taught me the most about how to work well.
one boss, in addition to stealing money from us would never compliment us. He would say "you guys work hard" - he would never say "you guys work well." and that taught me something - just because you sweat it out and do what you're told, it doesn't mean that you're making an impact on the decision makers.

working hard is one part of the equation. but working smart is the rest of it, and in my opinion, the most important.

working smart doesn't necessarily mean cheating or fooling everyone. it's doing those things that will have the greatest impact on your bosses, on your customers, on how you're perceived, on the end result.

you still need to work hard. but first find out what's the smartest way to work, and then work hard at that.

crossing T's and dotting I's might be the honorable thing to do, but it might not necessarily be the smartest investment of your time.

unfortunately, working smart means something different for each person. it takes a lot of reflection, a lot of observation, a lot of trial and error, and can lead to a lot of frustration if your gamble doesn't pay off.

but once you figure out what it means to work smart for you, do it at 110%, and success will be banging down your door in no time!
posted by bitteroldman at 8:18 PM on August 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


working hard is one part of the equation. but working smart is the rest of it, and in my opinion, the most important

People who are successful in accomplishing something worthwhile generally get that way by having the objectivity to see what needed to be done and the discipline to do it. Whenever I see people (including me) failing to do something, it's because there's a shortfall in one of those areas.

I see people either talking about the things they want to do, but never doing them, or working slavishly at something that will take them nowhere, seemingly unable to see that they're pouring all that work into a black hole. It won't do you much good to put in 60 hours a week at some dead end job or project. It won't do you much good to have a great innovative idea and detailed plan for carrying it out if you never put in the effort required. If you're getting anywhere because you're not working, you need to step up and put in the effort. If you're not getting anywhere even though you're working very hard, you need to step back and reconsider the situation and figure out where all that effort should be going.
posted by orange swan at 8:32 PM on August 19, 2013 [7 favorites]


My favorite line is "everything around us that we call life is made up by people that are no smarter than you."

I don't buy this.
posted by crossoverman at 8:40 PM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Rather than " no smarter than you" I prefer "with no more right to a voice than you".
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 8:46 PM on August 19, 2013 [7 favorites]


Convince others that you are the best thing since sliced bread, and it doesn't matter how good you are, you'll make a mint.

Then perhaps the lesson is to not simply work harder, but work smarter. Peddling bullshit is work too, simply applied in different areas.
posted by Apocryphon at 9:23 PM on August 19, 2013


HuronBob: "Well, Rush liked it, whatever that means."

When the Awards aired, Kutcher's speech was picked up almost immediately by several conservative pundits, including Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. Fox News ran an article, as did the Blaze, etc. The reason for this is the first part of the speech is a bit of a conservative meme. Conservatives like to think of America as the ideal meritocracy, after all. Work hard and you can pull yourself up by your bootstraps. In the ideal Conservative version of America, inequality and oppression simply don't exist, and everyone can live equally even if they're underpaid. Because this is America: opportunity is everywhere and jobs are plentiful. Especially for minorities.

So when Kutcher tells teens, "I never had a job I was better than," conservatives feel that's what teenagers need to hear. After all, the teen unemployment rate is 20+% nationally. And the unemployment rate for African-American teens is 41.6% And it's easier to blame the victims than admit the system is broken or try to fix it.

You know what part of Kutcher's speech not one of those conservative pundits bothered to highlight? His call for people to be kind and thoughtful and generous.

Shocker.
posted by zarq at 9:59 PM on August 19, 2013 [29 favorites]


And that, ladies and gents, is how you pull off the ol' "Reverse Punk'd" trick.
posted by not_on_display at 10:09 PM on August 19, 2013


Seems making that Steve Jobs movie has had some long lasting impact on him

Yeah- he really learned the value of a hard day's work done by Chinese slave laborers.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:21 PM on August 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


Geez. Tough crowd. I appreciated that he took the opportunity to push back against the core message that is being sold to the youth crowd through ads, reality TV, you name it: Work is for suckers, being (physically) beautiful is priority number one, and life is an amusement park that other people clean up.

Now, why did conservative broadcasting pick up and run with (part of) this speech. As pointed out already, there was some resonance with their core belief system. Yes, true, but the bigger reason is that they have a huge youth problem. Here is a guy who has one of the largest Twitter followings, saying stuff that is on-message. Of course, they are going to run with it.

Anyway, I thought it was a good speech directed at to the crowd he was trying to reach. Nice job, Chris.
posted by Didymium at 10:52 PM on August 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


Attributing his speech or personality in any way, shape or form to Steve Jobs and that movie makes me want to vomit, and I don't even care much for him.
posted by Malice at 1:23 AM on August 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


In related news, yesterday I read that he pays a guy to manage his fantasy football team(s).
posted by dry white toast at 4:58 AM on August 20, 2013


Man, a number of people are in quite a hurry to hate this guy. You *do* realize that 2003 was 10 years ago at this point, right?
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 5:51 AM on August 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


Kind of makes you want to rip out the teen girl SQUEEEE and layer it into every graduation speech ever.
posted by GameDesignerBen at 6:31 AM on August 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


That was a bit serious for the occasion

You must not have seen the Lea Michele-and-the-cast-of-Glee segment.
posted by NorthernLite at 7:00 AM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Man, a number of people are in quite a hurry to hate this guy. You *do* realize that 2003 was 10 years ago at this point, right?

I don't hate the messenger, I hate the message. If "hard work" was all it took to succeed, there would be more social mobility in this country. We do not live in a meritocracy. The folks working two jobs, each employer forcing them to work 29.5 or 39.5 hours so they don't have to pay for health insurance, are working damn hard but aren't exactly moving up in the world. Maybe they need to "work smarter" or follow some other vague mantra, but how can they when they never had the opportunity to get a good education or have a family/social circle including people who can help them learn how to "work smarter?"

Kutcher seems like a genuinely good guy for the most part and I bear him no ill will, but he may be a little privilege blind.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 8:52 AM on August 20, 2013


[...] it was the third part of Kutcher’s speech that I have a hard time with, especially coming from him. Here’s what he had to say:

“The sexiest thing in the entire world is being really smart and being thoughtful and being generous. Everything else is crap, I promise you. It’s just crap that people try to sell to you to make you feel like less, so don’t buy it. Be smart, be thoughtful and be generous.”

That’s awesome; unfortunately Kutcher is in the crap-selling business. Chris Ashton Kelso Kutcher, do you really think you’d be where you’re at today without being superficially sexy? I’m not denying you’ve worked hard, but without outer beauty, you don’t exist, at least not to us.
Source.
posted by asnider at 9:51 AM on August 20, 2013


Thoughtforcrime, I think the message is not that hard work is all it takes to get ahead, but rather that no one should feel above working hard when the occasion calls for it. Which is a good message, especially today.

Despite the very real specter of incredibly high levels of unemployment haunting young people today, many of the unemployed seem to feel themselves "above" jobs that are open and available. Refusing to give your life over to a corporation is one thing. Refusing to take on challenging jobs because you feel like the world should make everything easy for you is both absurdly entitled and ultimately self-defeating.

Just look at the thread about corporations. Why do we have to keep reminding people that corporations are not families? It should be obvious. But on the one hand we have young people desperately needing work turning down perfectly serviceable occupations, and on the other we have people slaving away loyally at one company for 30 years and being let go with no safety net. Why are the two extremes so common?

I think young people today are too often looking for their occupations to meet all their needs. They want to make a difference and do good in the world AND be intellectually stimulated on a daily basis AND work no more than 40 hours a week (preferably in flex time or via telecommuting) AND still feel challenged AND have the newest technology at their fingertips AND earn a generous salary AND have supportive coworkers and a genial, Understanding boss with no interpersonal conflicts. They want to be childfree, travel, work out in the company gym and not have to pick up the slack for older coworkers with healthcare issues or family to take care of AND if/when they do decide to settle down themselves they want family-friendly policies and reliable, company sponsored in-house daycare, all without anyone having to pay higher insurance premiums.

We can all emphasize with wanting those things. The real problem comes from naively expecting their occupation to meet all their needs from day one, in much the same way their parents and grandparents looked for one partner to meet theirs. They readily accept that monogamy is an outdated concept; they do not see how the same logic applies to their careers.

Some learn the lesson the hard way, and when they don't get everything they hoped for from their jobs, they jump the shark completely. Either they get bitter and jaded and write screeds about the Evil of Big Corporations, or they guzzle down the koolaid and slave away for a pittance at a job they abhor, feeling they deserve no better.

Somewhere in between, though, are the pragmatic realists who have recognized all along that while no, there are no guarantees, nobody gets a free lunch, either. The people with nice homes and financial security did not get there by accident. The freelancers who love their jobs? they worked hard to get where they are. That's the wisdom we want to instill in our own kids.

There is no direct path from A to B. Success is not simply the automatic result of attending the most prestigious school (and racking up thousands in student debt). Ashton Kutcher's message is perfectly on point: You have know what you want from life and be willing to work hard and take whatever path you can to get there.
posted by misha at 9:59 AM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Source.

Did this guy type that with his fedora? What a bitter, stupid article. Kutcher's speech might not have been Sermon on the Mount, but he's way more eloquent and consistent than this hack. When he isn't stumbling over how clever he finds himself, he goes off on the same tired "Ashton is good looking, and women are superficial and lame, and so are you, and so is America!" Yawn.

Also this:
"See, Kutcher’s whole “acting” career stems from That ‘70s Show where he played Kelso, a PRETTY boy who isn’t smart but gets through life on his LOOKS. If Kutcher looked like Steve Buscemi, do you think he still gets that part? The answer is “No” by the way."

Yes, a rich, legendary, successful Hollywood actor is the BEST counterexample to Ashton Kutcher's success. Go back to Livejournal.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 10:24 AM on August 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I get it. He's right.

BUT

I say this all the time at the bar, and no one is watching my youtube video about it. They're watching Ashton's... because something OTHER than hard work and being decent got him into the position to say these things on a platform where people would listen. If you want to get ahead in the social strata, you need to be born into it, be beautiful and/or cunning... and also be at the right place at the right time.

He's like those hollywood starlets who snort cocaine and starve themselves and then say "Oh this is just my natural body type, let's all focus on self-acceptance!"

If you don't want to get ahead socially (or go very far in your career), if you just want to do well within your crowd and be a good person, then sure.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:58 AM on August 20, 2013


I think the message is not that hard work is all it takes to get ahead, but rather that no one should feel above working hard when the occasion calls for it. Which is a good message, especially today.

I knew a guy in college who said that he would sooner go on welfare than work as a garbage man.

The fact that someone who did work as garbage man would presumably be paying taxes to cover that check didn't seem to faze him.

(Real life being what it is, the likelihood of that guy ever going on welfare was close to zero. I like to think that all these many years later, he would be embarrassed by his youthful sentiment.)
posted by BWA at 11:02 AM on August 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why is it so hard for people to believe that Ashton Kutcher both has a pretty face and works hard? I think he's quite aware that his face is a large part of what got him his foot in the door. His face, and also luck. I think he also probably worked pretty hard to get and then to keep his foot in that door once luck turned his way. There are a lot of pretty faces who have appeared exactly once on screen and then disappeared. There are plenty of pretty faces who have never appeared on screen (and who would love to do so). There are plenty of hard-working pretty faces who haven't made it big. Success is equal parts hard work and luck. Whatever you may think of his work, his face alone isn't why he's still around all these years later.
posted by CoureurDubois at 1:20 PM on August 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


Misha, I certainly believe there are quite a few young folks who do want all the things you listed and aren't willing to settle for less, but I guess I just feel that the people you're describing are not anywhere near the majority of young job seekers. There are a lot of young folks out there struggling, willing to take whatever job they could get, but there are simply not enough to go around. And the upper middle class kids I think you're referring to, with college degrees who grew up with privilege, are not even going to be considered for many of the lower-skilled jobs out there because they are overqualified.

By the way, I agree that most of the demands you listed are unreasonable in aggregate, but so what if someone is "childfree" and doesn't want to pick up the slack for coworkers who do have children? Why should they work harder just because they decide not to?
posted by Thoughtcrime at 1:58 PM on August 20, 2013


Thoughtforcrime, I think the message is not that hard work is all it takes to get ahead, but rather that no one should feel above working hard when the occasion calls for it. Which is a good message, especially today.

Exactly. Or, put another way, at any given level of privilege or inherent talent / intelligence / attractiveness / [other inherited attribute], being willing to work really hard is what lets you get anything done. I don't think there's any reason to interpret this as yet more poor-bashing or "up by your bootstraps" talk.

Even at a very high level of privilege, being willing to work hard can actually be vital to living a fulfilling life. For instance, I am a white male who grew up in a very safe, secure family environment with educational and academic resources basically thrown at me for my entire young adult life, and to be perfectly frank, I think it would have been far more salutary for my life, long-term, if the people around me had instead focused on teaching me to, and forcing me to, learn how to work hard after about age 16, rather than continuing to advance academically per se. Rather than puttering along in a funk after undergrad because my jobs were "boring" and "stupid," I probably would've been much better prepared to set some goals for my life and then go get those things done. As it happened, this part took like another 5-7 years to finally get together.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 4:40 PM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why is it so hard for people to believe that Ashton Kutcher both has a pretty face and works hard?

Sitcoms are three days of work a week for an actor. Paid millions. Tough life.
posted by crossoverman at 5:04 PM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


By the way, I agree that most of the demands you listed are unreasonable in aggregate, but so what if someone is "childfree" and doesn't want to pick up the slack for coworkers who do have children? Why should they work harder just because they decide not to?

I don't take it as a given that childfree workers do/should work harder than those with children.

The problem I was pointing out was the hypocritical and short-sighted mindset of those who are currently childfree begrudging accommodations made to those who already have kids, only to change stance once they have kids themselves and see the necessity for those accommodations.

But you know, I think it is also a community problem even without that hypocrisy. If someone does choose to be childfree, yes, they are going to have to pick up the slack sometimes. But so will their coworkers with kids. Ideally, if we really want to promote work/life balance, we have to recognize that family responsibilities exist. Someone has to pick up that slack, whether it is because a coworker is dealing with a child's illness or an elderly parent's nursing care.

Rather than grumble about that, we ought to be glad those opportunities exist. None of us should complain about families getting a break on insurance or people taking family leave, whether we are personally benefiting from those policies at the moment or not. Eventually, most of us are going to have family emergencies (especially elderly parents) so it is in our best interest as a community to make allowances for them.
posted by misha at 8:37 PM on August 20, 2013


Why is it so hard for people to believe that Ashton Kutcher both has a pretty face and works hard?

Sitcoms are three days of work a week for an actor. Paid millions. Tough life.
posted by crossoverman at 8:04 PM on August 20 [1 favorite +] [!]


Hello, I am a Network Administrator, who used to work in a grocery store while taking classes to get here. Currently my job is a tenth as physically demanding, yet I make more than twice what I made at the grocery store. If I worked harder at my current job, I could advance and make even more money, but even if I become my boss's boss, I still will not be working as physically hard as I was at the grocery store.

Now, I may not be as pretty as Ashton Kutcher, but I'm pretty sure I'm sexier than Paul Rieser, who had a sitcom of his own for many years. SO if I wanted to go from this point to the point Ashton Kutcher is at in his career, the 'tough life' you casually dismiss, do you think it would it involve MORE work or less?

Please show your work.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 10:07 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, part of what constitutes "hard work" for Kutcher is getting done up in brownface so he can sell potato chips and racism, so if you don't mind, I'll just be over here continuing to think that he is a massive shitheel.
posted by Errant at 1:58 PM on August 21, 2013


SO if I wanted to go from this point to the point Ashton Kutcher is at in his career, the 'tough life' you casually dismiss, do you think it would it involve MORE work or less?

It would require a lot of hard work because unless you're a college-aged model who can be cast for his pretty boy looks after your first audition, there's a lot of shit most actors have to go through to land the leading man role on one of TV's biggest sitcoms.

Still doesn't mean being on a sitcom is hard work. And I'm sure his long hours in the trailers on movie sets were really agonising. Meanwhile, none of it is as physically demanding as working at a grocery store. But I bet you put in more hours at your Network Admin job per week than Kutcher does at Two and a Half Men.
posted by crossoverman at 5:26 PM on August 21, 2013


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