I know that we’re expected to shake our heads at poor Chuckles. We read about his exploits and listen to his radio rants, watching in real time as a talented guy blows up his career. We’re supposed to pity him as a cautionary tale, a deluded and delusional example of celebrity ego run rampant, the guy who Mel Gibson’s grateful to, the living reminder that keeps Robert Downey Jr on the straight and narrow.
I’m not arguing that Sheen isn’t all of these things, along with being the poster boy for substance abuse with a history of violence towards women thrown in for good measure. But there is one thing I do appreciate about Sheen, something that sets him apart from today’s culture of insincere celebrity mea culpa’s – he’s unapologetically honest about who he is and the life he’s chosen (to live or destroy are up for debate).
There’s a pattern that we’re used to seeing – the downward spiral, hitting rock bottom, the apology, the rehab and the phoenix-like reemergence as a sober and responsible human being that talks to Oprah about their “journey to inner peace.” Rinse and repeat as needed. What happens behind the scenes – the enablers, the entourage, managing the condition – it’s all irrelevant to the bigger image the star projects.
If we believe that they’re cured of whatever their addictions and afflictions are, then the PR machine has done its job, regardless of what’s really going on, and the money train can keep rolling along. Sheen is compelling because he’s never played into this and isn’t about to start now.
If you’ve never seen an E! True Hollywood Story, the one to watch is Sheen’s, mostly because of how amused he is when he talks about his escapades. He’s not looking back as the thoughtful older version of himself, ruefully judging his younger self’s mistakes. If anything, he’d like to reach back into the past and high-five himself for getting away with it.
Not only is he living his fantasy, he believes that there are millions of guys who would switch places with him in an instant. Considering that he’s managed to avoid anything remotely resembling consequences for maintaining a life packed with drugs and call girls, while still growing his career/paydays and getting beautiful women to have kids with him, I can’t really argue with his logic.
When he says that “most of the time – and this includes naps – I’m an F-18, bro,” he’s telling the truth. Most people can’t manage partying and working with equal degrees of professionalism but Sheen has perfected the lifestyle. Why should he apologize for doing exactly what he wants to do?
Obviously, his choices hurt people. When your son, brother or father believes he’s a drug-fueled superhero (Cokeman, able to get high in a single snort), you’re in pain, even if he’s not. When the show you work on gets shuts down and you aren’t the guy getting $1.8 million per episode, you suffer. And when you’re the creator of a show that hitched itself to this IED, you will definitely have some dark nights of the sitcom writer’s soul.
But in the very end, the only person whose life is really on the line is Sheen and he’s determined to ride this out on his terms, throwing his “fire breathing fists” at anyone who gets in his way. And let’s be honest, there have been a lot of people who stepped out of his way for years, as long as he met his call time and stayed relatively upright during daytime hours. Is it any wonder that he’s resentful that they’re turning on him now?
Why should he have his flack issue carefully worded statements or hold an awkward news conference? Why should he apologize when he’s gotten away with this kind of behavior his whole life, oftentimes even encouraged and supported?
In a Charlie Brown Halloween special, Linus, who believes in the Great Pumpkin (the ghoulish version of Santa Claus), waits up for him but makes a mistake that he believes causes the Great Pumpkin not to show up. When Charlie Brown commiserates that he’s also done stupid things, Linus gets riled up and promises that the Great Pumpkin will show up next year.
In a world of celebrity facades, it’s refreshing, albeit disturbing, for a star to not only embrace their bad behavior but call it a lifestyle choice. While his actions definitely impact and hurt others, these past few months aren’t a change from the way he’s been carrying on his whole life.
Other people may grow up and move on from their fantasies but Charlie Sheen’s going to continue waiting around for the Great Pumpkin, without apologizing for it. Even if it kills him.