I have never seen Charlie Sheen’s television programs, nor I have ever seen any of his movies (with the exception of “Platoon”, but I hardly remember it.)
However, over the past few weeks or so, I have learned more about Charlie Sheen than I ever dreamt possible, or even wanted to.
I have learned that he made $2-million per episode for a show on CBS called “Two and a half men.” Not $2-million per season, but $2-million per show.
I have learned that Charlie Sheen lives with two blonde porn stars whom he calls his “goddesses.”
I have learned that Charlie Sheen has a long and sordid history of extreme drug abuse and domestic violence.
I have learned that Charlie Sheen speaks of warlocks and thinks he's a rock star from Mars.
Watching Sheen’s bizarre (and wildly entertaining) interviews on television clearly suggest to me that he has become mentally deranged and will probably either soon enter a drug-induced coma or die of a drug overdose.
It has been, admittedly, the greatest “reality show” ever – a real-life Hollywood star who is breaking down and collapsing in front of our very eyes.
Every negative and ugly stereotype the public has of Hollywood is embodied in Sheen – pampered, spoiled, vain, selfish, vulgar, self-obsessed, greedy, materialistic, amoral, not to mention addicted to every narcotic known to man.
There is, of course, an incredibly sad undertone to this bizarre and wildly fascinating scenario – Sheen is a son, father, and ex-husband who is willfully self-destructing in the public arena.
If it’s all an “act” than he has fooled millions of people. If it’s not, then it is beyond depressing.
But is anyone really surprised by this?
It was Charlie Sheen, but it could have been virtually any other over-indulged, overpaid celebrity.
We live in an era of unyielding narcissism, 24-hour oversaturated pop media, and “instant celebrities” who have little or no talent nor any achievement. (Charlie Sheen is actually considered a pretty good actor, I am told, so perhaps he has more substance than the endless stream of vulgar, tawdry “reality stars” and other monstrosities who plague our collective consciousness).
Nonetheless, the very notion of ”celebrity” has become so cheapened and meaningless that perhaps we are now on the verge of seeing its extinction.
A “public figure” is now generally someone to laugh at, ridicule, or even hate. These feelings are endlessly recycled (different celebrities become the main target at different times, see Michael Jackson and Tom Cruise, for example) and the mass media profits handsomely from it.
Part of this phenomenon has to do with the intrusion of the mass communications empire into the personal lives of everyone from celebrities to average nobodies – rendering such “private” information “public” and therefore less interesting, and less desirable to know.
Thus, if anyone can become famous (and it seems that almost anyone CAN become a celebrity these days), that would seem to mean that the very meaning and “value” of celebrity has become hopelessly corrupted and diluted. Thus, why would anyone want to become famous if too many people have already tasted fame (even for Andy Warhol’s fifteen minutes)?
I don’t even blame Charlie Sheen – in a way he’s as much of a victim of the Hollywood/Madison Avenue/fame-money machine as the public that is exploited and used by it. Sheen was either insane to begin with, or the vast oceans of money he has earned in his career (and the easy indulgences that leads to) has made him insane.
Either way, we will eventually get bored with Sheen, or move onto another brief celebrity obsession – or, perhaps, we will soon become bored by celebrity and fame itself.