Here's an improbable piece of news: Ashton Kutcher's website, A+, was caught stealing content from BuzzFeed, a website so pockmarked with plagiarism craters that it looks like some sort of douchebag moon. The Kutcher-owned vanity blog has also been lifting its content from Huffington Post, which, like BuzzFeed, is a website that specializes in reposting content from other websites. It's just a big fat circle of nobody doing any real work.
It's as if playing a computer mogul on film and television taught Ashton nothing at all.
We decided to give Kutcher the benefit of the doubt and consider that A+ might be an elaborate Punk'd gag in the vein of the Onion's ClickHole. To find out, we combed A+ for any sign of winking self-awareness. What we found instead was a bunch of self-important fortune cookie wisdom written by people who are terrible at plagiarism.
#4. The "About" Page Is Both Hilariously Vague and Naively Ambitious
Let's say you're starting your own thieving click-bait site. We imagine the basic guidelines would look something like this:
1. Harvest Reddit like a fat dead organ donor.
2. Reassemble original post in random order so plagiarism isn't immediately obvious.
3. Add a hyperbolic headline.
4. Try not to think about where you go when you die.
It's the shortest path between generating content without expending any actual creative effort and collective ad revenue, which is what makes the embarrassingly overblown mission statement of A+ all the more hilarious:
It's just Mad Libs: Social Media Edition.
That's right, you transpersonal explorers of inner space -- according to the most unnecessarily verbose paragraph ever written outside of high school, A+'s hijacked blog spam is going to change the fucking world. Their goal is to provoke thought, dreams, social justice, and joy with inspiring and original content, such as this list of nostalgic tattoos they stole from BuzzFeed.
A+ via dailydot.com
"BuzzFeed inspired us to lazily steal content; we hope to inspire others to do so, too."
The manifesto goes on to highlight the site's desire for each piece of its vapid content to produce an "affinity with the reader," as well as create "personal change" and help us "discover something about the world" -- all while being "easy to consume" through pictures, graphs, and emojis:
Basically, the A+ credo seems to be "Can a child and/or time-transplanted caveman understand this? If not, we must decrease words while increasing pictures and smiley faces." This explains why, in a typically world-changing A+ article providing a list of cleaning hacks, they don't bother cluttering up their thinkspace with any words that actually explain what the hacks are:
"Just MacGyver some shit out of this."
We're not being cute -- that's literally all the entry contains. In fairness, they do provide a link to a different website that actually took the trouble to explain, with words, how to clean a microfiber couch without staining it. That's like giving a book report by going to the front of the class and wordlessly holding the book over your head while your classmates go to the library and read the book for themselves, which we imagine is probably how much of Ashton Kutcher's academic career went. The website's menu bar even reads like a dumb handsome guy trying to be deep:
The "More" section just says "EAT PRAY LOVE."
#3. Their Ads Began to Go Insane
At this point in our existential exploration, it became clear that Ashton was not merely Punk'ing us, but was in fact being totally sincere. The bleakness of his desperate attempt to be taken seriously as a probing philosophical mind is only made worse by A+'s absurdly intrusive ads, which were apparently programmed by an insane Martian, because they just pop up any old goddamn place, including right in the middle of a paragraph:
Bullshit. Zipcars weren't even around to hug 20 years ago.
Now, this is enough of a thunderous shrug in the face of integrity on its own, but A+'s inability to choose which sponsored messages appeared with which articles with any degree of appropriateness is when things really began to shine:
"The bloodstains tips will be helpful, as reading this site for too long causes bleeding of the eyes and anus."
First of all, why does Clorox have an ad campaign centered on trying to convince us that removing bloodstains is an everyday chore? And second, what confused algorithm decided that "fetal position," "excruciating pain," and "bloodstains" were a winning combination? Who in God's name programmed this website?