The Cult of Charlie Sheen: Bi-Winning?

“I’m an f-18 bro, and I will destroy you in the air and deploy my ordinance to the ground”

A slow motion car crash is what could be used to describe the latest antics of actor Charlie Sheen, who up until last month was TV’s highest paid performer. It is a car that I am fully aware has people in it, children even. The only difference being that unlike most human tragedies, I find this car crash amusing.

That might say something about my sense of humour or perhaps it is saying more about the celebrity obsessed media culture that we live in. How the public partake in and gawk at the emotional meltdowns and traumas of the world’s rich and famous like a Victorian gentlemen visiting Bedlam Asylum. A voyeuristic tradition that can in some cases be highly entertaining. I am referring to the case of Charlie Sheen and am not literally advocating using mentally ill people for entertainment purposes.

I’m sure that many readers will be familiar with the narrative. The actor was sacked for destructive behaviour and other drink and drugs issues from the mediocre but hugely popular sitcom Two and a Half Men. This led to a series of bizarre interviews and bouts of increasingly erratic behaviour.

The world was exposed to the Charlie Sheen’s drug-fuelled bad-boy lifestyle and turbulent frame of mind through comments like

I was banging seven-gram [crack] rocks, that’s how I roll

these added to this ridiculous image of a man who claims to be able to socially manage crack.

The sound bytes of his original free form poetic manner of speech have encapsulated an image of him as an unconventional antihero. We found out that he’s not bi-polar he’s bi-winning, that he has “tiger blood” and in a contender for best quote of 2011:

I’m an f-18 bro, and I will destroy you in the air and deploy my ordinance to the ground

We learnt that he lives and sleeps with a pornstar and a ‘model’, and partook In a 36-hour bender, with 5 pornstars and a Gucci bag filled with 10kg of cocaine. This legendary experience is apparently going to be made into a film…well a porn film.

In some ways I almost respect the dedication and perceived professionalism that he clearly takes to partying. He explained that after a heavy night, during filming that he would ask to be next to a piece of furniture so he literally wouldn’t collapse.

That is an expert move by a seasoned professional. I’m sorry, an amateur stays on his mark and then falls over during the run-through

Statements like these confirm that in many ways he is an unrepentant badass. His sheer audacity is a great source of entertainment.

The question remains whether we are witnessing a rise or a fall. Is the play a tragedy or a comedy? It is hard to tell who is really being exploited here. I think he is capitalising on the controversy and is actively exacerbating and riding the wave of media interest by acting in ever-stranger ways; in latest news he was seen manically brandishing a machete on his balcony.

The press are stoking the flames of one mans manic episode and consequently he gains greater coverage which in turn helps his career; he has been inundated with new job offers and has even started his own Charlie Sheen ‘Winning tour’.

Essentially he has figured out how exploit his own exploitation. He is effectively marketing his himself as this drug addled egotistical bad boy and the public laps it up. The more controversy, the greater the value of the Charlie Sheen brand. So perhaps ‘bi-winning’ no longer seems such a ludicrous nonsensical statement.

But ultimately this case highlights many problems endemic in the media. The media feeds and encourages his conceit and arrogance, and self-destructive nature by giving him publicity; conversely he seems to think that he is benefiting from the coverage. Essentially they are both exploiting and indeed glorifying negative aspects of his life character for entertainment and mutual benefit. There is no positivity gained, only dollars.

I guess the realty of the situation is that the man has serious issues that need to be addressed and it is particularly bad as he has young children to look after. That said maybe he’s not doing too badly, as he has so eloquently put it:

Sorry my life is so much more bitchin’ than yours, I planned it this way.


Oh, and here’s the obligatory dubstep remix: