Ever since Demi Moore started playing Twitter footsie with her husband of six years, the tech-savvy Ashton Kutcher, she has gone by the moniker @MrsKutcher -- paying homage to her much younger partner and forever marrying their brands in the blogosphere.
As the pair now divorces amidst allegations of Ashton's infidelity, Demi's Twitter handle feels like the Internet equivalent of an Ashton tattoo on her cheek. From Twitter tags to shared charities, Ashton and Demi have become a co-brand. The question now is: how can Demi forge her own brand identity without her husband?
"Demi's mistake in tangling her brand with Ashton's was that, instead of being considered a gracefully-maturing movie star, she became known first and foremost as a cougar," explained divorce attorney, Stacy Schneider, the author of He Had It Coming: How to Outsmart Your Husband and Win Your Divorce. "Every role she took after that marriage made it difficult to separate the image of the older woman marrying a much younger man from the characters she played. I think this divorce will be good for Demi Moore's career. Ashton diminished Demi's brand as a sophisticated movie star. Most of the recent paparazzi shots were of Demi and Ashton dressed in matching hipster outfits. Now Demi can start dressing and acting her age."
Having Ashton as arm candy did make Demi seem significantly younger than her 49 years, and that had a deleterious affect on the kinds of roles she was offered. While most actresses her age are being cast in age-appropriate roles as mothers -- sometimes to a child Ashton's age -- in Hollywood blockbusters, it is hard to imagine Moore in that role when she has a man as young as Ashton by her side and dresses like a teenager.
But first and foremost, as step one in the cleansing process of her divorce, Demi needs to change her Twitter handle. Sure it was cute when she first landed on @MrsKutcher as a deferential nod to her less-famous husband (whose own Twitter handle, we should note, is @aplusk, a node to his own company), but now it simply seems sad.
"Demi was always the bigger name in their relationship and marriage, and the fact that she made her Twitter handle @MrsKutcher indicates that she didn't mind stepping back and letting Ashton be the one in the limelight," said Dorothy Cascerceri, senior editor for In Touch Weekly. "But now that they are on their way to divorcing, she will have no problem standing on her two feet in terms of her brand, career and image. She may want to change her Twitter handle, though."
Despite the fact that Ashton is now the star of television's top-rated sitcom "Two and a Half Men," Moore has logged more man-hours in the Hollywood Industrial Complex throughout her long career. Experts say she still emerges from this union as the bigger star with the stronger brand. But she does need to follow a formula to come out back on top.
"She needs to do two things," explained Cult of Celebrity author Cooper Lawrence. "First, she needs to immerse herself in her work and get back to being known as a movie star and not as Mrs. Kutcher. Second, she needs to never talk again publicly about her marriage, her divorce or Ashton so as to appear as if she has moved on. Emotionally we know that it's not that simple, but her media image has to become one of a working actress and not of a jilted spouse. Her opportunities are vast and she is so well-liked by the public and by the industry, so it won't be all that difficult. Now is the time to really let her star shine."