Every now and then a high school or college graduation speech tends to go viral, but typically for motivational or humorous reasons. This was unfortunately not the case for the principal of Parkersburg High School in West Virginia, Ken DeMoss, who got caught red-handed ripping off an acceptance speech from Ashton Kutcher at the 2013 Teen Choice Awards.
While accepting his “Ultimate Choice Award,” Kutcher gave a motivational three-part speech, ahead of the release of his Steve Jobs biopic, Jobs. “Jobs” — as in employment, not the man — were also at the front and center of his speech, as the actor recalled all of the employment opportunities that had gotten him to where he was today, and how he “never had a job in [his] life, than [he] was better than.”
Oddly enough, DeMoss’s speech began identically, as he too worked a number of menial jobs that he was “never better than,” and the rest of his speech’s talking points likewise mimicked Kutcher’s.
Given that Kutcher’s speech went moderately viral at the time, it’s no surprise that at least one student picked up on it, and subsequently spliced together footage of her principal’s speech and the actor’s. The ensuing footage is undeniably similar.
As the video began to go viral, DeMoss was eventually forced to address the issue, apologizing to students in a statement.
“It was never my intent to take credit for what I said or give a specific credit because of how I prefaced my speech,” he said, admitting to having watched Kutcher’s speech. “I did not get all my ideas from Ashton. Format yes, thoughts and ideas were from my heart.”
“The format of Ashton’s speech I liked the most, because it had the most impact on me,” he continued. “The order of the main points I should have done differently.” DeMoss also lamented the fact that his speech took the focus off of the accomplishments of the graduating class.
DeMoss did not elaborate on how he came across Kutcher’s speech, but apparently before the controversy made headlines the speech came up as the second result in a Google search for “best motivational speech for teens.”
It’s unclear if DeMoss will face any consequences for plagiarizing the speech, however, Wood County Schools Superintendent Will Hosaflook told the media that the issue is “a personnel matter that’s under investigation.”
(Via WTAP NBC News)