Ashton Kutcher appeared to take to his Community.com marketing platform Tuesday afternoon to text what could be seen as a message in response to the intense backlash he and his wife Mila Kunis have received over the character letters they wrote on behalf of their friend, convicted rapist Danny Masterson.
The cryptic message doesn’t directly refer to Masterson. But it appears to address the controversy that has erupted over Kutcher and Kunis’ praise of their longtime friend and former “That 70s Show” co-star. The couple sparked outrage for what people called their “tone-deaf” letters, as well as their “inauthentic” and “lawyered-up” attempts to justify themselves in a video apology that went viral over the weekend.
Kutcher’s text message, which went out at 4:09 p.m. Tuesday, said: “A friend said something to me today: We have one heart we can fill in with hatred or love. I chose love.”
A minute later, Kutcher apparently sent out a second message, which repeated: “I chose love.”
This “I chose love” message was sent out to anyone who has signed up to receive text messages from the actor, via his “unique” 10-digit phone number that he advertises on his X account and which is made available through Community.com’s SMS marketing platform. Kutcher, also a well-known tech entrepreneur and investor, is a co-founder of Community.com, and he has used texts in the past to send out personal messages or to promote new projects, such as his Netflix rom-com, “Your Place or Mine.” Kutcher didn’t share his “I chose love” message on X, or on Instagram, perhaps hoping he could direct it to people who are mostly loyal followers.
Kutcher and Kunis have been Hollywood power couple since their marriage in 2015. They met while working with Masterson on the TV sitcom “That 70s Show,” which ran from 1998 to 2006, and they began dating several years later, after Kutcher split from his first wife Demi Moore.
The couple have been under fire since Friday when their letters, which are part of the public record, were disseminated in the media. In the letters, Kutcher hailed Masterson as “a role model,” while his wife extolled his “excellent character.”
The day before, Masterson was sentenced to 30 years to life after being convicted of two counts of rape. The attacks occurred in his Hollywood Hills home between 2001 and 2003.
After the letters were published, regular people on social media, celebrities, media commentators and Masterson’s victims picked them apart, often times expressing outrage. Legal experts also weighed in, with Colleen McCormack-Maitland, the deputy director of legal services at the Legal Action Center (LAC), telling Vox that the letters were “out of touch” and even “counter-productive.”
People focused on the couple’s claims that Masterson was critical of drug use. Kutcher said he attributed “not falling into the typical Hollywood life of drugs directly to Danny,” while Kunis said that “Danny played a pivotal role in guiding me away from such destructive paths.” Critics said these statements appeared to be a response to specific allegations in the case, even an attempt to “undermine” the victims’ accusations that Masterson drugged, then raped them.
In an attempt at P.R. damage control, Kutcher and Kunis recorded a video over the weekend in which they apologized for their letters.
“We are aware of the pain that has been caused by the character letters that we wrote on behalf of Danny Masterson,” Kutcher said in the video. He also said the letters “were intended for the judge to read and not to undermine the testimony of the victims or re-traumatize them in any way. We would never want to do that, and we’re sorry if that has taken place.”
Kunis added, “Our heart goes out to every single person who’s ever been a victim of sexual assault, sexual abuse or rape.”
But the video was deemed “a non-apology apology” by commentators. Since then, Kutcher has become the particular focus of criticism, with people asking whether he’s genuine in his high-profile support for causes that help sex abuse victims or that fight sex trafficking. He’s also been called out for his integrity and past behavior.
One of Masterson’s accusers, Chrissie Carnell Bixler, went on the offensive and told Kutcher on Instagram Story: “You’re just as sick as your ‘mentor.’” She and others shared old footage from “The Rosie O’Donnell Show,” in which Kunis recalled Kutcher making a “side bet” with Masterson about French-kissing her during a romantic scene on “That 70s Show.” Kunis was 14 years old at the time.
Bixler also pointed to a 2003 video of the actor speaking on his MTV show “Punk’d” about actress Hilary Duff. In the video, Kutcher says Duff, who was a minor at the time, is “one of the girls that we’re all waiting for to turn 18. Along with the Olsen twins.”