Friday, February 25, 2011

Fighting Demons

I loathe Two and a Half Men. I have for a long time, I just think it's mean-spirited and lacks any sort of heart. My friend SeanH and I had an e-mail chat about current sitcoms, and how the success of Married: With Children kinda poisoned the well. That show was so successful, and was such a turn from the innocuous, "very special episode" type of show that was dominant back then. Yeah, the Bundy's were sarcastic and deadly rude to each other, and the people around them, but there was a strong, deep thread of heart in that show. It was The Cosby Show with the veneer removed, but it was still The Cosby Show.

But everyone latched onto the rudeness, and we've been heading that way ever since. Don't think I'm some sort of Parents Television Council sop when I say that. I don't mind rude and ugly characters, but there is a difference between say, Arrested Development, where acknowledging that these are awful people is part of the joke, and Two and a Half Men, where we're supposed to enjoy, to revel in Charlie Sheen being shitty to everyone around him.

So, anyway...that's background.

CBS and Chuck Lorre have finally shut down Two and a Half Men for the rest of the season, in the face of their star's increasing lunacy. There's more than a little thought that this might be the end of the show, period. I certainly won't cry any tears if it is, but I do feel bad for the rest of the cast and crew, who are now out of work because Charlie Sheen can't admit he has a problem.

I often times get fed up with the endless bitching about famous people. The vast majority of the time, I see people who have worked hard to achieve something in their profession, and get dropped into the deep end of the 24-hour news cycle microscope. Some sink, some swim, but almost every time I see TMZ, or Perez Hilton picking at some star because they did something stupid in public, I think to myself, "would I really want to be under that scrutiny 24 hours a day?"

I mean, for example, at the end of the day, what does it matter to you or I if Tom Cruise is a Scientologist? Every, single religion in the world comes down to one thing; faith in something extraordinary because it helps you find meaning in your life. I am NOT defending Scientology, every, single religion has crazy in it. And how do we know that Christianity isn't based on some bet between a couple of Babylonian sci-fi writers?

How would we feel today about people like Errol Flynn, Pablo Picasso, hell, even Kathryn Hepburn and Spencer Tracy if we had a vast swath of the "press" dedicated solely to digging up the very worst about them? Those classic stars and celebrities had the same weakness and foibles, but the public didn't spend an inordinate amount of time sharpening knives to tear them apart. Yes, they are rewarded, but I don't envy that element of their lives.

I'm taking the long way around to say that I'm one to, generally, give celebrities the benefit of the doubt. That said, wow. Sheen's latest rant is just unhinged. Adding that to his recent radio interviews, we start to see a lot of self-destructive tendencies.

It brings up direct memories of Mel Gibson, a guy who's messed up beyond description, but I can't bring myself to hate. Here's a guy with a long, long, long history of alcoholism, and raised by a virulent anti-semite Holocaust denier, and going on a rant in (relative) privacy. In your moments of weakness, you revert to the primal parts of yourself. If you're drunk, and get angry, you reach to those things that are the ugliest your fogged-in mind can think of, and with Gibson's upbringing, that happens to be anti-semitic. Crap like that sticks with you.

As a friend of mine put it, and I completely agree, "if you think you can't start saying things you don't really mean when you're've never been drunk enough." I can attest to that from experience.

Now, that is NOT an excuse for his actions, and shouldn't be read that way at all.

Gibson needs help, but I highly doubt you'll ever see the man put out an "official" press release with the ugly and hateful content Charlie Sheen did. Sheen was raised by Martin Sheen, for God's sake. I can't imagine baby Charlie was waddling around with his father screaming "Hymie Levine" (Not that Martin didn't have his own problems, still...). Sheen seems gleeful about smearing his personal garbage all over the faces of anyone he can. He's still trapped in the fantasy that he controls his addition, instead if it controlling him. Gibson may be in the same boat, but he's not on TV proclaiming it.

Both of these men need help, and a lot of it, but there's an utter lack of atonement from Sheen. He's in the money, and feels invincible. He's gotten away with this garbage for so long, he sees no need to offer any sort of contrition. If it was me, I'd replace him on the show ASAP, and make that replacement a HUGE, public announcement. Maybe the show won't work without him, but even failing with some other actor, and never looking back, always calling it the best decision you ever made, etc, would send a message. Shuttering the show permanently would just re-affirm Sheen's belief that he holds all the cards.

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