I'm going to ask you to do something that's very difficult. You won't like it. It might even hurt a little bit, but please please. For just a moment. Consider Charlie Sheen.
I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that you don't spend as much time thinking, watching and reading about Charlie Sheen as I do. I set up Google Alerts for whenever Charlie Sheen is mentioned for reasons that escape me here in the present, especially considering the fact that I don't have any Alerts set up for absolutely any other subject. I take no joy from doing this.
Because of my unique position, I always know what's going on in the world of Sheen, so I've known for a while that he is, without a doubt, a dangerous and truly insane human being. Time after time, Charlie Sheen will do something that's either unforgivably stupid or impossibly sleazy and, time after time, absolutely nothing happens to him. Crappy things, things that, under normal circumstances, can be slightly disastrous for a celebrity's career, Charlie does them about a dozen times a year and gets off clean.
Why do we let Charlie Sheen get away with so much? Is this all excess goodwill leftover from Hot Shots? Are we forgiving Charlie Sheen all of his discretions on account of how awesome that movie was? Or is it something bigger…
Is Charlie Sheen Invincible?
Let's look at some facts. We'll look at some interesting moments in Charlie Sheen's life and compare his consequences with those of some other celebrity.
Drug Abuse, and Being an Overall Trainwreck
Plenty of actors are forced either out of work or into low budget, straight-to-DVD movies when they really hit rock bottom. They just reach a point where their terrible personal lives overshadow their abilities in the eyes of the audience. Lindsay Lohan is a good comparison for this entry. She's someone who had a perfectly decent career that she proceeded to chop up with a credit card and snort directly into her brain. Her reputation of drug and alcohol abuse, her DUIs, her borderline illiteracy and her entitled attitude have basically blacklisted her in Hollywood. Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson have even both allegedly told their agents to turn down any movie that features Lohan, because nobody wants to work with the redheaded flask of batshittery. She now wears an ankle bracelet and is attempting to straighten out her act but, in the meantime, everyone hates her and the only work she can find involves playing porn stars, which, if my math is correct, is actually slightly less respectable than straight up being in porn.
But Can Charlie Sheen Do It?
I would argue that Sheen has displayed no fewer trainwreck characteristics than Lohan. Sheen's been in and out of rehab once or twice. And on the trainwreck front, he's had very loud, very public battles with multiple ex-wives in the past, dragging his dirty laundry out in the open whenever possible. Former wife and frequently naked Denise Richards, in fact, admitted that Sheen was a violent, drug-addict who regularly saw prostitutes. And it wasn't the first time prostitution-allegations followed Sheen; he was famously named as one of the clients of Heidi Fleiss's brothel a few years back. (His response? "I like sex and can afford it.")
The hookers, the drugs, the drinking, his Womanizer's-Guide-to-Sleaze style of speaking; all of these things individually aren't really insurmountable for an actor, but Charlie Sheen combined all of them into one, slimy ball of sex funk. On paper, the only work he should be getting is in no-budget buddy cop movies alongside Tom Sizemore that go straight in the bargain bin at Blockbuster.
And yet, there's no blacklisting for Charlie Sheen. He's on Two and a Half Men. Now, because neither you nor anyone you've ever met actually watches Two and a Half Men, you might argue that Charlie Sheen can do whatever he wants because no one cares about Charlie Sheen. Because no one's watching him or invested in his career at all. Like, the dude who played "Bulk" on Power Rangers could probably fart on a kitten and the public wouldn't think twice. No one cares what he does because, hell, who's Bulk? Nobody watches Bulk.
I would watch Bulk.
But Charlie Sheen isn't Bulk or even Skull. People do watch him. People like, according to my figures, everyone.Two and a Half Men is consistently in the top 20 most watched shows and, in 2008, it was briefly the number one show in America.
This is because Charlie Sheen is invincible.
"Ooohh, sneaky Charlie!"Making Bullshit Political Statements
Celebrities get blacklisted for having bizarre or controversial political views all the time. We don't want to hear what our celebrities have to say about a politician or an election. We want to see them dancing on our movie screens looking pretty; we want to know who they date and where they shop; and we, ideally, want to see them doing weird things while being naked. We do not want them talking politics because it confuses us and makes us uncomfortable, so we make sure they pay for it if they cross the line.
Even someone like Glenn Beck, a man hired specifically because of his compulsion to spout rapid-fire political nonsense like some kind of attention-fueled bullshit fountain, suffers drawbacks when he goes overboard and the insanity starts spilling out into the real world. Since publicly expressing his belief that President Obama is a racist, over 200 sponsors have pulled their advertisements from Beck's show. The man was given a job because he's a cartoon-beaver shaped sack of hot, molten crazy and the advertisers are still saying "Whoa, that's… that's a little too nuts, for us."
But Can Charlie Sheen Do It?
Charlie Sheen got pretty political. (His dad pretended to be the president for several years, I can see how that'd be confusing.) In late 2009, Sheen asked President Obama for a private meeting to discuss a cause that was very near to his heart. Namely, his belief that the attacks on the Twin Towers had nothing to do with terrorists and were, in fact, perhaps an inside job, (or at least entirely covered up by the Bush administration). Not only did he demand that the President investigate this matter, but he did so in such a douchey way: by writing up a fictional interview between himself and President Obama wherein the two sit down and discuss the issues, an idea that is as retarded as it is totally ripped off from me.In Charlie Sheen's fake transcript and my nightmare, Barack Obama TiVos Two and a Half Men.
When no one cared enough to publicly debate serious political questions with the dude who played Charlie B. Barkin in All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 (because his claims are absurd, there are more important things going on and Men at Work sucked), he went out and called everyone in the media "cowardly lapdogs." Also, he's a 45-year-old man who dresses like this:
"Mmm, Charlie. "
No sponsors pulled their ads from Two and a Half Men. Not one. (Although, there is a tiny bit of justice in this world, as Charlie Sheen was fired from those Michael Jordan Hanes commercials and replaced with an infinitely more talented and likable actor.We love you, Torpey!)
Chasing Your Spouse Around With A Knife on Christmas Day
There… there aren't a whole lot of celebrities that have actually threatened their spouse with a knife on Christmas Day. In fact, knife to my throat, I can only think of one:
"Ch-ch-ch-Charlie!"Can Charlie Sheen Do It?Can he ever! Last Christmas, in fact, Charlie Sheen's wife (at the time) told police that she thought she was going to die because Sheen "pinned her on a bed, put a knife to her throat and threatened to kill her because she wanted a divorce."
Far be it for me to speculate what would happen if any other celebrity did that but if, say Zach Braff tried it, I imagine Scrubs would have been canceled a lot sooner. (And, on a slightly related note, if Scrubs was about Zach Braff's character running around the hospital threatening people with a knife, then it never would've been canceled, [let alone twice].)
Now, have there been any consequences for Sheen's actions? A little jail time, a fine or two, sure. Rehab for… something or other. (Rehab is meaningless enough these days that just saying the word "rehab" in the direction of your problems is enough to assure the world you're healed.) But he's still filming his show. This happened in December and he's going back to work in August. Tiger Woods lost sponsors and we demanded a public apology simply because he liked putting his dick in things. David Letterman was protested because he, a comedian, made a vague joke about Sarah Palin's daughter. Why does Charlie Sheen get to do whatever he wants? Doesn't even CBS care?
No. In fact, after the scandal broke, they signed him for two more seasons of Two and a Half Men. He will be making $1.8 million an episode. Whoever said there was justice in this world besides me a couple paragraphs ago lied. He is the highest paid actor in television. Also? Invincible.
Daniel O'Brien cannot exorcise his Charlie Sheen demons.