Tuesday, March 8, 2011

NASCAR Has Nothing Over Sheen

Everyone with a thought and a pen is using both to speak about the fascinating public breakdown that is Charlie Sheen. As fields of snow across the U.S. melt into floods of destruction, so goes he. I can't resist the urge to join the legions who feel they have to say something on the issue.

There is a Polyanna side of me that truly wants to believe this otherwise seemingly spoiled megalomaniac speed freak is actually auditioning: Delivering a stunning portrayal of a man on the edge to prove he really can act. That in his extraordinarily overpaid and under-demanding role on Two and a Half Men, he's been relegated to a stereotype character, reaping millions but no satisfaction for the true art that can be acting.

As with most intelligent, narcissistic madmen, there are many nuggets of truth in Charlie's words—although their numbers and worth diminish the more he speaks. (I've experienced the same phenomenon with Gary Busey and Charlie Manson over the years!)

Sheen points to the ridiculousness that is Hollywood—the exploitation, commercialization, spoon-fed dreck that the masses devour without question or distinction. Although he overuses the term exponentially, he calls those not on his side "trolls." I vigorously challenge the overly broadened interpretation.

He espouses motivational rhetoric in a diarrhea-like fashion, leaving droplets of imitation liquid gold along his road to self-annihilation: "Winning!" "Pain is a myth." "We beg for nothing. Beggars beg, winners win. Period. The end. Suck it." "Apocalypse Me: The Jaws of Life."** He claims to record almost everything now because he is "tired of losing all my gold into the ether sphere of f---ing stupidity." Clearly he has managed to morph Tony Robbins into Gadhafi, transforming words meant to empower into histrionic ramblings.

Sheen reminds me of the plethora of stories I heard when going to *Gam-anon meetings: The more you win, you still have to lose. The truth is Charlie can tattoo, scream, and sky-write that he's "winning" all he wants but in reality, he's seeking a bottom that continues to elude him. If his bottom doesn't rise to meet him post haste, he'll undoubtedly careen to his demise.

Parallels to Peter Finch's character in Network—a brief reference Sheen himself made during his Howard Stern-style "Sheen's Korner" on Ustream (or as he admits, "a shameful trainwreck filled with blind cuddly puppies")—are almost too obvious to mention. Maybe in his speed-addled mind, Sheen is determined to go out in a publicly maniacal manner.

It appears the consensus of the masses about him is running (very generally) 40% "sad," 40% "mad," 20% "stop talking about him already!" I must admit that I can't stop watching. I'd like to believe it's purely journalistic interest that keeps me transfixed on the man and the meltdown but I honestly haven't searched my soul enough to verify that. Everyone can insist "no more drama," yet overall there is nothing more spellbinding at this point in time than watching "The Charlie Show." One way or another, he is getting his wish: Whether he's acting, melting, insane, or high; prophet, demon or dirtbag, he's got our attention.

For the billions of people who scrape by each day on a meager dollar for much harder work, it is hard to summon much sympathy for this man and his $1.8 million/episode salary that—if the producers are to be believed—have been riddled with outtakes of Charlie's flubbed lines and unsteady posture. Still, we who continually struggle to stay on-target and really are "winning," (or "working at winning" a day at a time), would rather be us than him any day.
*A fellowship for family members of gamblers. (A long-time boyfriend of mine had the problem, so I attended meetings for support.)

**His proposed autobiography title.