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Charlie’s Sheen

March 8, 2011

I find it fairly poetic that Charlie Sheen and his drug habit are a microcosm of their combined effect on America: he himself is an addictive toxin that needs to be flushed from the overall system.  Obviously, I am perturbed by the Tiger Blood phenomenon (no, I’m not talking about the anabolic steroids of the same name, though the parallels there are also fairly obvious) and the resultant Internet explosion.  One million Twitter followers in twenty-five hours and lines of products seeking his endorsement resulted from his self-appointed status as a literal Chuck Norris (of the hyperbolic “facts” persuasion).

Where I differ from most upturned noses, however, is that I will give Sheen credit for owning up to his sincere and earnest preference for prostitutes and cocaine; both are (0stensibly) entirely consensual activities (or at least, would be consesnual, were it not for the fact that they were illegal and therefore highly profitable and unable to utilize the rule of law in enforcing contracts).  What really bothers me about #tigerblood and #winning is Sheen’s method.  While we are taught in grade school that most elections are popularity contests resulting in ignorant leaders, Sheen has incited a contest where popularity is the prize, and bombastic ignorance is the campaign promise.  Sheen has promised all-out legal warfare against CBS and Chuck Lorre, anticipating that they will “lick [his] feet” with offers of $1 million more per episode to regain their flagship star.  The problem is that Sheen may be right.

Sheen’s fame is the result of hovering over the sweet spot of the intersection of individual reprehensibility, indignant outrage, entertainment notoriety, moral infamy, public polarization, and gossipy juiciness.  In a sense, Sheen is taking advantage of the Streisand effect; the more he positions himself in such a way as to be censored, the more news coverage and counter-cultural fandom he receives.  It’s the same strategy that has kept Sarah Palin in the news for years now.  The fact that he/she are wrong has nothing to do with whether or not they’re ripe for conversation, which is the goal for both.

If all he’s relying on is shock and awe, one might wonder why Sheen has become suddenly noteworthy.  Shouldn’t we have see this coming?  Hadn’t the punch line about Charlie Sheen been the same thing for over a decade?  It was practically a matter of word association to equate Charlie Sheen with the use and abuse of both hookers and blow.  But for some reason, Sheen’s tepid sitcom appearances blunted the impact of his real-life persona.  Sure, he was the guy who whored around, but he seems so lovable as his “character” “Charlie.”

Charlie Sheen has essentially come full circle and turned back into his character in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: a recidivist drug addict.  What is more problematic is that America has turned into Jennifer Gray’s character: enthralled by the bad boy’s insistence on eye contact, even though they know that they should be repulsed by the unapologetically reprehensible and overtly irritating behavior.  America more readily swoons at outrage than competence, and that in and of itself speaks volumes about systems that reward sheer quantities of eyeballs garnered.

I would say that I pity America for its tendency to resemble a date-rape victim, but I have a feeling that America and Sheen will be slobbering all over each other before all is said and done, and I’m guessing that it won’t be in the face of much resistance.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Adam Karz permalink
    March 9, 2011 5:03 pm

    The problem with Mr. Sheen is that he is not in fact “Bi-winning” but in actuality just plain “Bipolar” He is in the midst of a textbook Manic Episode. These often are triggered by prior drug use even. He has the grandiosity, impulsivity, hypersexuality, pressured speech, decreased sleep of a very manic person. He needs to be Psychiatrically hospitalized, given Lithium and an Antipsychotic and have him chill out. Manic people have an infectious quality and people love to hear from them and be around them…unfortunately in this case its a famous actor….

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