4 Reasons Ashton Kutcher's Buzzfeed Ripoff Site Is Insane
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.
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.
"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."
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?
They Are Way Behind Internet Culture
It's a pretty standard bottom-feeding Internet practice to scour a single Reddit or Imgur gallery and repost it along with a tiny fraction of space crediting where you blatantly stole the images from. (That makes it legal!) On their quest for spiritual enlightenment, A+ dutifully continues this practice, as evidenced by this list of pencil sculptures lifted directly from an Imgur post:
But what makes A+ truly stand out from the rest of the pack is the fact that this gallery is four fucking years old:
The next story is about a man painting his own selfie.
You see, what makes A+ such a baffling example of lazy plagiarism is the fact that they are apparently time-traveling lazy plagiarists. They're ripping off viral content years after the content was relevant. It's as if their entire editorial staff was frozen in a block of ice back in 2007. For instance, here's a super timely Borat reference:
"Oh, did I do that?" -Ashton Kutcher
At their very best, they're only a month or two late, like when they recently discovered a Paddington Bear Tumblr meme that's been around since June. However, at their very worst, they are running articles rebutting the sexism in advertising ...
Is it "We're sexist"?
... from ads that were produced in the 1950s and 1960s:
The article, doing its damnedest to pretend the past six decades never occurred, rants about not buying into the blatantly chauvinistic ideas about beauty and femininity present in advertising, all while never actually giving modern day examples, or even making a coherent point. The result is jarringly similar to watching a person with dementia yell at old newspapers.
The Text Was Clearly Written by a Stoned Teenager
If you're anything like us, you've spent an unhealthy amount of time imagining what would happen if BuzzFeed suddenly became self-aware like the planet-killing computer from The Terminator and slowly drove itself insane with its own content. Thanks to A+, you no longer have to imagine what that would look like, because all of their content was clearly written by a depressed automaton. For example, here's the spirited A+ intro to a list of six romantic beaches:
"Is this how hu-mans are to feel? Y/N."
A man wackily posing for maternity photos becomes existential commentary on the societal nature of motherhood:
Did you happen to see that video of the little girl hugging her brother on YouTube? A+ sees it as a profound lesson on the unbearable weight of eternity:
Werner Herzog's YouTube channel is depressing as shit.
The radiant jewel in this crown of buzz-killing introspection is the write-up for a (stolen) list of Photoshop-aged celebrities, which was apparently inspired by Bad Company's "Shooting Star" and all of the weed in the universe:
Just like how a bunch of word salad doesn't negate the lazy.
And that's where everything about A+ makes either perfect sense or no sense at all -- had it been made by a bunch of stoned 13-year-olds with no concept of journalistic integrity, its existence is understandable. However, A+ has a corporate legal page complete with copyright and privacy policies mere clicks away from straight-up plagiarism and cartoonishly broad pieces of pseudo-philosophy:
It's as if every last-minute college term paper cut-and-pasted from Wikipedia suddenly congealed into a website and called itself A+ on the pretense that, with such a name, it could not possibly fail. Despite all that, it's managed to become one of the more popular websites in the U.S., so maybe Ashton really is Punk'ing us.