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Hope You Guess My Name

Although we’re of the same generation, I’m not a huge Charlie Sheen fan and he’s only ever occupied a small space on the periphery of my consciousness. I saw Wall Street and Platoon, have never caught a full episode of his television show, and my awareness of the guy prior to the last few weeks could be limited to the following: actor, 40s, Apocalypse dad and Repo Man brother, good hair. If the central objective of celebrity is boosting one’s visibility, Chuck’s been on a tear of late. I didn’t know, for instance, that he was the highest paid actor on television. And while some small corner of my cognitive process likely linked his name to the terms porn star and cocaine, I’ve definitely filled in some blanks.

Mass public condemnation not withstanding, I’m probably a slightly bigger Sheen fan now than I was before. I still don’t think he’s much of an actor, and his much-publicized rants have done nothing to boost his ranking on my list of Great American Minds of the 21st Century. Despite the hypothesizing of armchair feminists, he doesn’t placate some fantasized ideal of what a middle aged, married guy can get away with, given the right combination of money, genes, and fame. Is he a good role model, dad, husband, A.A. graduate or reformed narcissist? Probably not. But in the larger realm of Hollywood, celebrity culture, and society, he’s not bringing up the rear, either. If his choices seem selfish and his behavior indefensible, where does that put the legions of workaday voyeurs lapping this stuff up on TMZ and Gawker, anticipating his every move? This isn’t what we’ve come to accept from low brow celebrity, it’s what we’ve come to expect. And this guy’s holding up his end of the deal spectacularly.

Sure, Charlie seems to be pushing the envelope. But with every concession given his critics, there’s an equally relevant caveat. Is he a good dad or husband? Maybe not, but he wouldn’t be the first to fail in this arena. Further, his reputation preceded him, so it would be suspect to claim that any of these women were caught off guard. (A simple IMDB check would have revealed that he played Artie Mitchell in a made for Showtime movie.) And while some of his behavior appears antithetical to fatherhood, a parent’s true relationship with his kids is privy only to them. Am I suggesting that blow and hookers should be on the ledger of every dad’s inalienable rights? Of course not, and it would be a shame if his excesses led to his children never really knowing the man beyond this current stretch. On the other hand, nobody’s accused him of being a poor provider and despite his Hunter S. Thompson leanings, he seemed to show up for work every day until they canceled his show. Put another way, there are kids growing up in that zip code with biological pops doing worse by them – ask Mackenzie Phillips.

While the above may avail itself nicely to being shot full of holes, I’m not without criticism. If Sheen appears guilty of anything in recent weeks, it’s his becoming a bore. This is an unfortunate side effect of his reputed substance of choice – it tends to aggravate a certain David Lee Roth sector of the brain, making one susceptible to repetitive, self-aggrandizing rants and phraseology seeming clever only to those using it. (Although I have to admit to cracking up whenever he slips a congratulatory “winning” into a sentence.) But who among us, having reached life’s middle, can safely say we’d do better drawing the same potent card in the genetic lottery? So Charlie isn’t going gentle in to that good night and he’s got the funds to cover the tab. It’s worth noting that the producers of his show only canceled the final two episodes of the season and haven’t pulled the plug completely. In the words of Bobbi Flekman, money talks and bullshit walks. As long as he’s making them money, they’ll be riding this guy straight to the edge of the cliff.

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  1. cookie rojas wrote:

    agreed, one kind of has to admire his lack o remorse for his lifestyle, his complete commitment is worthy of Bukowski, plus he’s getting slammed for being a version of the character he plays on TV, that said I would not want to be trapped in an elevator with the guy

    Thursday, March 3, 2011 at 11:17 am | Permalink
  2. admin wrote:

    I watched a rerun of that show for five minutes last night. Its popularity is much more troubling than this guy’s behavior or this temporary spike in media attention. Face it, if asked we could both name five people we used to work with whose mental stability is just as suspect. Subtract the money, chicks, and high profile and it all adds up to an early exit from the lunch room.

    OK four .. make it four people.

    Friday, March 4, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

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