I don’t find Charlie Sheen interesting. I didn’t think it was interesting when he was going around hitting women, and I don’t think it’s interesting now that he’s going around talking and talking and talking and not stopping. Now I’m being told that it’s “news” that his obituary is being prepped by most media sources, but let me break it to you: this doesn’t indicate his potential demise, only our shocking acceptance about addiction. Once you reach a certain level of fame, infamy or notoriety, you definitely have an obit waiting for you in each of the biggest papers in the country. Most elderly individuals in the public eye have one that can be quickly edited and sent to print (this tactic has even been taken by The New York Times and spun off into a great recurring series “The Last Word”). In our fast-paced news culture, that list of old fogies now includes young(ish) celebrities with addiction problems.
Sure, Sheen is saying ridiculous things. But he’s only saying them because he’s sick and unhappy and upset, and by listing and laughing and making fun (which I believe we do partially out of discomfort with the reality of his possible demise), we’re feeding his lifestyle and glorifying it. For all the obsession we have with addiction (and curing it), it’s our very treatment of Sheen’s troubles that indicate he’s not much better than us. I’m not going to sit here and spout my opinion on what he wants, mostly because it’s quite clear that he fits the obvious addict archetype. But I will say that our focus on how badly he’s doing doesn’t magically reflect back at us and show how well we’re doing. It merely further substantiates the proof that at the end of the day, we’re all addicts. We’re not better than him — if anything, we’re worse — and instead of seeing a ridiculous person, we should see a very sick one.
So a plea to my dear and devoted friends: don’t send me anymore Charlie Sheen quotes with New Yorker cartoons, or Charlie Sheen memes, or Charlie Sheen anything. When he’s back in rehab and it’s successful (always a possibility) I’ll read about it and then go on with my day. It’s not that I don’t care; it’s that his story is an old one, one that I’ve read too many times and didn’t find that funny or unique to begin with.
Is Spotlight Hindering Charlie Sheen’s Addiction Recovery? [NPR]