At the time Star Magazine published their story about how Ashton Kutcher cheated on Demi Moore, Kutcher tweeted that Star Magazine defamed his character and he threatened to sue. This isn’t the first time celebrities have sued or threatened to sue tabloids for defamation of character. So what is defamation, and why doesn’t every celebrity sue?
The first thing to understand about defamation is that celebrities can’t sue anyone who airs their dirty laundry if it’s true. When celebrities and other public figures sue for defamation, they can only win if they prove that the defamatory statement is false.
Oh what’s that you say? What is a defamatory statement? Great question. It is a statement about the celebrity which hurts his reputation. The statement must also be communicated to a person other than the celebrity himself. (So if Star Magazine called Ashton at his house and accused him of cheating, they’d be in the clear — because no one else heard it).
Given the above explanation, it doesn’t seem like it should be so hard for Ashton to prove his case against Star Magazine, right? They published the story — “Ashton Kutcher Caught Cheating…” — to the world and it makes Ashton sound like an unfaithful jerk. And of course it’s false – that Jamie Madrox look-alike would never cheat on G.I. Jane, right?
But there’s one more catch — as a public figure, Ashton must prove that Star Magazine published the statement with full knowledge that the statement was false or with reckless disregard for whether it was true or false. Sure, they probably knew they were lying and they probably do it all the time. But how is Ashton going to prove it in court?
It is hard for him to come up with photos of him NOT kissing girls. He would have to get someone from Star to blow up their own journalistic spot and say, “yeah, I knew it wasn’t true and I wrote it anyway.”
If you’ve been following my analysis, you might have come to one of two conclusions to the title of this post. Either the case is just too hard to win, or Ashton really did cheat and can’t sue a tabloid for reporting the truth. So which one is it? I have no idea, but you’re free to draw your own conclusions.
In closing, I’d like to proclaim that everything I didn’t already know, I learned from The Dishmaster.
Ashton Kutcher’s alleged mistress is selling a sex tape and it’s being promoted as “the girl who had sex with Ashton Kutcher.” Kutcher is suing, claiming that this “infringes on his celebrity value.” Allow me to put this lawyer thing to use and explain why Ashton Kutcher’s handling of this has become mighty suspicious. First, when he was initially accused of having an affair with this woman by Star Magazine, he threatened to sue for defamation — but he never did. The problem with suing for defamation is that in order for Kutcher to have a case, the accusation has to be false. So the fact that Kutcher never sued leads me to believe that the information is true, and he therefore knew he wouldn’t win. Got it? That brings me to my next point. A small part of me thought Kutcher didn’t sue because, despite his oodles of cash, he simply didn’t feel like it. After all, does anyone believe Star Magazine anyways? Why waste money on a frivolous lawsuit, right? But here’s where it gets suspicious. As soon as this girl released a sex tape claiming that she’s the person who had sex with Kutcher, he decided to sue. Why? I suspect it’s because he finally found a case he can win. He’s not suing for defamation, he’s suing for “using his celebrity name” to promote a product. It’s sort of a smart move that I don’t think anyone but myself would catch. He can win the lawsuit, and the suit lets the public think he’s finally standing up for himself. Just a theory though. I’ve asked my friend to write a guest post on defamation to explain this further, so we’ll see if I ever get it. Are you reading this, mystery friend?
I can’t decide if this news makes me happy or sad. On the one hand, I’m so in love with Britney Spears that I often find myself dancing in front of my mirror with a fake snake around my shoulders singing “I’m a Slave for You.” On the other hand, Ashton is the King of Twitter. He practically launched the social medium, and I hate to see a king lose his crown. I’ve therefore decided that Ashton and Britney are officially the King AND Queen of Twitter, and they need to have a cup of coffee to discuss what appearances they will make with these titles. Oh to be a fly on the wall during an Ashton/Britney conversation.