You, me and Sheen


One man that hasn’t shied away from the media spotlight the past month is Charlie Sheen. His unusual social media tactics and interviews leave people begging for more. Mr. Sheen, you have my pity.


Juice Columnist

Prepare yourself for the most obvious statement of the year: Charlie Sheen needs help.

It’s easy to make statements like that when he says things like,

“I have a different constitution; I have a different brain; I have a different heart; I got tiger blood, man.” Or, “What they’re not ready for is guys like you and I and Nails and all the other gnarly gnarlingtons in my life, that we are high priests, Vatican assassin warlocks. Boom. Print that, people. See where that goes.”

It’s clear from reading those quotes (and painfully apparent when watching him say them) that Sheen is in trouble.

This article isn’t about that glaringly evident truth, though. This article is about us, the American viewing audience and our addiction to celebrities.

Fun Fact: Charlie Sheen is the first person to reach 1 million followers on Twitter. He reached that “achievement” in twenty-five hours; just days after his showdown with CBS started.

Sheen’s breakdown obviously resonated with people in a big way. What I struggle with, is why? Why are we so struck by this fight between a non-David and Goliath?

As the star of the most watched comedy in America, Sheen was hardly someone that most people can easily, or honestly, say they relate to. Nor was he really wronged by the network or the producers of the show. Most companies do not react happily with employees that have repeated instances of illicit and illegal behavior that impact the company in a negative way. If you question me on that, try it tomorrow at work. I doubt that they’ll work with you as much as CBS and Warner Bros. worked with Sheen.

So that brings me back to my confusion. Why are we so enamored with Sheen? It’s certainly not because we’re lacking viable options for our attention.

During Sheen’s outbursts there have been a bevy of battles in the Middle East as people fight for more freedoms. These issues actually matter, too. Why have gas prices been going up lately? That’s because of the fighting in Libya, not Charlie Sheen being fired from Two and a Half Men. Yet Sheen still gets more attention.

Ask yourself how much you know about Libya and compare that to your knowledge about Sheen. Chances are most people know more about the latter despite the minimal to zero impact on our actual lives. So why are we so enthralled by Sheen, and celebrities like him?

The only thinking I have for why we are addicted to Charlie Sheen’s roller coaster ride through crazy town isn’t a new one. In my opinion, an old episode of South Park (“Britney’s New Look”) laid it out pretty well. We prop up certain celebrities when they make their big splash. After a while, we lose interest in them or we start to vilify them for something they did (think about Britney Spears and the various incidents involving her children), turning our back on someone we once held high.

Some celebrities don’t handle that change too well and they start the hard spiral downward. At that point, they gain America’s attention again, this time for negative reasons.

We salivate at the newest stories, waiting to hear about their latest fall. Look at the tabloid magazines that still talk about Lindsey Lohan. Think back to how Britney Spears was treated during and shortly after her K-Fed years. Now think about Charlie Sheen.

There is, however, a somewhat disturbing difference with our treatment of Charlie Sheen. This time people are cheering his self-destruction on.

We follow him on Twitter to see what he’ll say (oh yeah, that’s not actually him writing his tweets but a company called that specializes in celebrity endorsements in social media).

We watch his videos on Funny or Die where his troubled state is used to generate revenue for the site. We feed on his self-destruction for our own entertainment. We had a similar circus act with Michael Jackson until his unfortunate death.

Americans are serial offenders of idolizing celebrities until they burn out, no longer able to entertain us. We treat them as fictional characters whose lives have no connection to reality. We see them as nothing more than real life fictional characters.

I doubt that we’ll ever change how we treat our celebrities. We’re too fascinated by what they do, the lifestyles they lead and the supposed freedoms from real life that they enjoy.

Let’s not forget that Charlie Sheen isn’t just here for our entertainment. He’s a father and a son. Despite his protestations otherwise, he’s just like us; fragile and human. He needs help, not our laughs.