Why Is America Infatuated With Charlie Sheen’s Downfall?

Americas Infatuation With Charlie Sheen

I applied to be Charlie Sheen’s intern. Unfortunately, 74,048 others couldn’t resist his pitch, either:

Do you have #TigerBlood? Are you all about #Winning? Can you #PlanBetter than anyone else? If so, we want you on #TeamSheen as our social media #TigerBloodIntern!

The world’s most famous warlock seeks a social media enthusiast to track his exploding online brand for eight weeks this summer. Responsibilities include monitoring the actor’s 2 million follower strong Twitter account and sifting through his Youtube mash-ups—ranging from Charlie Brown to Darth Vader.

I applied out of curiosity with the recruiting process. What interview answers are too much even for Charlie Sheen? I applied because my would-be boss’s last name has become a verb. And I applied because he must be the world’s most riveting conversationalist. Charlie Sheen rambles about Adonis DNA in coiffed TV interviews. What do you think he talks about when he is bored at the office?

But mostly I applied because I feel for Charlie Sheen. Not that I would say that in the interview. It would be a decidedly un-Tiger Blood thing to say. Charlie Sheen doesn’t want my pity. As he tells it, he is living the dream as an F-18—“even during naps”. But as we collectively mock the actor’s manic rants and Caligulan late-nights, we have overlooked something: what if something is seriously wrong with Charlie Sheen? Why are we so blasé to a man’s freefall and possible cry for help?

Charlie Sheen Drinking Tiger Blood

What is stunning is our collective utter lack of sympathy for a man ravaged by decades of hard-partying and possibly mental illness. There is no compassion for his addictions and teetering state. With the kids safely tucked away now, there are no empathetic characters left in Sheen’s saga. There are no real victims. Only porn stars. Instead, we savor Charlie Sheen’s meltdowns as a Hollywood badboy who let himself go.

Maybe it is because Charlie Sheen is so familiar. While we watched Robert Downey Jr. and other drug-addled movie stars perform on the big screen once or twice a year, Sheen was arguably American TV’s leading actor. He played the cool guy, the drunk, on the nation’s most popular sitcom. Sheen was streamed into Middle American living rooms in primetime every week. Plus reruns.


Britney Spears Beats A Car

Charlie Sheen was born into acting royalty. He is a 45 year old male and not another naïve teen pop starlet. Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan are cautionary tales of winderkindern plucked up by Disney only to be burnt out by paparazzi glare and the easy seduction of American celebrity before their early twenties. Sheen has bounced in and out of rehab since the first Bush administration.

And Charlie Sheen is too wealthy to truly hit rock bottom. He is still collecting residual checks from “Platoon” and commanded $1.8 million an episode for “Two And A Half Men”. He rented out the Astrodome for a week so his buddies could take batting practice. He once forked over $1 million on cars in a week. Just because.

Charlie Sheen Drugs Quote With New Yorker Cartoon

Or it could be because Charlie Sheen is so eminently quotable:

On Success: Boom, crush. Night, losers. Winning, duh.

On The Audacity Of Hope: Panicking is for amateurs and morons…. Hope is for suckers and tools.

On Acting: Duh! So, we’re asking you now, what are some of your favorite lines that this warlock brain produced?

On Self-Defense: I have defeated this earthworm with my words. Imagine what I would have done with my fire-breathing fists.

On His Anatomy: I have a different constitution. I have a different brain; I have a different heart; I got tiger blood, man.

On Why He Is Different: You’re dealing with a Vatican assassin. Sorry. I’m a high priest Vatican assassin warlock.

Or perhaps it is because we think he is faking it. We have been fooled before. Two years ago, Joaquin Phoenix infamously grew out a beard and stumbled and bumbled his way through a David Letterman interview. But the joke was on us. Phoenix’s gaffe was an elaborate PR hoax for a documentary.

We’re desensitized now. We’ve been Punk’d and Borat’d into complacency. The Hollywood public psychological meltdown has sadly become a flash-bulbed Boy Who Cried Wolf tale, of sorts. To many, Charlie Sheen is merely the latest.

Whatever it is, it is a marketing bonanza. Charlie Sheen’s plunge is not the first or the last celebrity downward spiral to captivate the nation. But his is the first to be truly commercialized. Wholesome family companies have embraced Sheen’s powdery, porn star-fueled collapse as a marketing opportunity.

McDonald’s tweeted, “Despite all the rumors there r no plans 2 bring #mclobster or mcsushi 2 the US menu. We’re working on a new menu item called McWinning.” Ford Motors embraced the Winning hash tag to tweet about the Ford Focus. Even the Red Cross could not resist, tweeting: “We may not collect #tigerblood, but we know our donors & volunteers have fierce passion for doing good! #RedCrossMonth.”

Charlie Sheen Tweet

Postmodernism, in its simplest definition, is art that knows its art. Charlie Sheen, then, is America’s foremost postmodern actor. In a rare moment of clarity, he grasped the most lucrative acting was off the set. He tired of showing up for Two And A Half Men takes in “those silly shirts”. Under the right circumstances, he realized, it was possible to make more money as a flop than as a hit. Ratings-starved networks and voyeuristic fans would only encourage such brazen behavior.

The playbook was simple. Swallow your pride, party very hard, sprinkle in some bizarre public interviews, and cash in on the pop-cultural notoriety. Charlie Sheen is already in talks with three publishing houses to pen his tell-all book entitled “Apocalypse Me”. Billionaire Mark Cuban wants Sheen for a show on his HDNet network. And the Vatican assassin will tour Detroit and Chicago next month with a live show “Charlie Sheen Live: My Violent Torpedo of Truth.”


Turns out the internship posting itself was a commercial. It was staged by the start-up Ad.ly, an agency that links celebrities with social media advertisers. The Beverly Hills-based firm already fields a star-studded stable including Snoop Dogg, Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton, and Cristiano Ronaldo.

CEO Robin Richards was pressed whether she had any regrets profiteering off Sheen’s instability. Richards hemmed and hawed before politicking, “We thought we could really highlight and help students and companies realize that this resource was available for them.”

We hear back Monday. The field will then be thinned to 50 to interview. And if I somehow land the internship, I will take to the airwaves after a week. I will rant and rave in front of any camera I can find. I will declare myself the Caesar of social media. The Genghis Khan of Twitter. I will blast Charlie Sheen for tethering me to his mortal coil.

And then I will recruit an intern to tell the world about it.




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  1. TheReviewer says:

    Everybody loves a good train wreck. Bonus if it comes with a quotable catchphrase.

  2. Chris says:

    It’s “Wunderkinder”.

  3. Gaf says:

    I would venture that America doesn’t give a damn about Charlie Sheen’s problems. The media has come to the ridiculous conclusion that we care, but we don’t. He’s a marginal celebrity at best, and when he was at his best, he was second rate. I think I’m not the only one about ready to vomit at the painfully over-mentioned Charlie Sheen drug problem/crazy statements/train wreck. He isn’t even entertaining as a loser. Stop writing and reporting about him, media, because we were tired of it a month ago when this became one of the more frequent news subjects.

  4. […] flash-bulbed Boy Who Cried Wolf tale, of sorts. To many, Charlie Sheen is merely the latest.Source:http://www.prosebeforehos.com/cultural-correspondent/03/14/why-is-america-infatuated-with-charlie-sh… ( Leave a comment […]

  5. Isaac says:

    I just find it entertaining when people I don’t care about crash and burn.
    Schadenfreude ftw.

  6. Hellow…

    I saw this really good post today….

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