Obligatory Commentary On Charlie Sheen

I am not under the misapprehension that I can add anything to this particular discussion. Also, I don’t generally write much about the world at large, as it is not as fascinating (to me) as me me me.

I think The Argument You’re Having With Yourself About Charlie Sheen sums up all parties pretty well.

Still. There’s one thing bugging me. It’s the same thing that irks me about shows like Intervention and Hoarders. And it’s why I give shows like Biggest Loser and even Cops a pass.


Can we all agree that Charlie Sheen is mentally ill? It puts a burr under my saddle when people fling around ad hoc diagnoseses. I have seen some “He’s clearly bi-polar!” kind of commentary. Maybe he is, but that’s no one’s to say but his psychiatrist. I feel comfortable, however, going out on the he-isn’t-right-in-the-head limb. Yes?

Everyone has the right to be  a prize ass. Everyone has a right to make horrendous decisions. Everyone even has a right (legal, if not moral) to be bad news for those with whom they come in contact. (Do not interpret this as my saying Mr. Sheen has a right to do everything he has done. Clearly he does not. And while I can’t prove it, I believe him to be particularly, illegally dangerous to the women around him.) But in general. If you want to make a fool of yourself, make your mother cringe, make your grandmother cry; by all means sign the release and be on Jersey Shore with my blessing. Let the whole world watch Jillian Michaels scream in your face. Beg Donald Trump for a job.

However, what if you are not competent to make decisions for yourself? Is it ethical for those shows to put those people on TV? What portion of the moral weight does each watcher have to bear?

Maybe people truly do benefit from watching Charlie Sheen self-immolate. Perhaps a family gets the strength and hope to stand up and confront the addict in their lives after watching Intervention. I suspect, though, that mostly people get the nasty thrill of gawking at a highway disaster (I look too).

I used to work in television news. I have infinite sympathy for the people faced with the decision to put Charlie Sheen on their shows. I’m confident some of them are conflicted and frustrated. I’ll tell you this for sure: If they don’t, someone else will. And everyone will turn their TV channels to the latter network. TV people are not in the business of taking high-road positions that ultimately put their staff out of work.

Still. I’m not sure Charlie Sheen (or the hoarders or the addicts — who have recognized medical diagnoses with at least a component of mental illness) are able to act in their own best interests. It could be argued that their exposure works obviously against their own good. Shouldn’t that be at the core of whether or not those people make a good target for the spotlight?

(Please know I recognize the irony in writing publicly that I question the ethics of directing media attention toward Charlie Sheen. I am often part of the problem about which I am complaining.)


2 responses to this post.

  1. There have been points in the past few days when he has been so over the top that I have wondered if he isn’t now just playing us all. Them all. Whomever all.

    I can’t prove he’s a danger, either, but I wouldn’t get in the car with him.


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