By Wil Story
Joaquin Phoenix. Lindsay Lohan. Britney Spears. Gary Busey. All these celebrities have one thing in common: They have had at least one meltdown in the public eye — although for Busey the word “meltdown” is synonymous for “life.” And now, one man stands out among the rest in his eagerness to join the ranks of the ever-crazy celebrity culture. That person is Charlie Sheen.
Describing Sheen’s life as having ups and downs would be an understatement. You know the feeling you get when your stomach drops as you plummet downward at 70 mph on a roller coaster your friend had to push you onto? That is his life at the moment. For those people who have been living under a pop-culture rock, here is a quick rundown of life “a la Sheen”: In January, Sheen went to the hospital citing severe abdominal pains a friend says he got from laughing at the television too hard — we can rule out that he was watching “Two and a Half Men.” Once discharged, Sheen went to his house, later to be known as “Sober Valley Lodge,” while CBS said the show was on production hiatus.
In February, Sheen ranted on a radio show about the show’s co-creator, Chuck Lorre, saying he and other producers were purposefully delaying his return to the “Two and a Half Men” set. Lorre, famous for posting different vanity cards — cards with quick personal messages — after his shows, maturely decided to insult Sheen on one of those cards.
And that’s when the gloves came off. Sheen retorted with a comment deemed “anti-Semitic” by many in the public. Because of the anti-Semitic quotes and continually calling the producers “idiots” and “trolls,” CBS decided to cut four of the final eight episodes. Lorre and Sheen continued calling each other names until CBS decided that because of Sheen’s words and actions, they were pulling the plug on the entire season. Sheen was also fired from “Two and a Half Men.” In early March, Sheen’s ex-wife Brooke Mueller had the police take their twin boys away from the out-of-control actor.
Now I am no professional, but it seems to me that Charlie Sheen has taken a one-way ticket to crazy town. The question people now have is who is to blame for this quick unraveling.
Some place blame on the drugs and alcohol Sheen has reputedly abused over the past years. Despite becoming sober by “closing his eyes,” the effects of the drugs and alcohol might finally be showing themselves.
Others place blame on Sheen himself. He was the one who did all these things and has often implied that he and his “tiger’s blood” are too good for treatment because he can help himself. Sheen himself called radio and television stations, insulting the producers of the show while still working for it.
And finally, the blame could be placed on the media, which has been the dark horse in the competition for who is to blame for Sheen’s bizarre comments. The media accepted all the calls from what seems to be a man going insane. They may be to blame for shoving him into the public eye in his present state.
The question raised during all of this is whether or not the media crossed an ethical line. Was there a point during all of these interviews when the media stopped covering Sheen as news material and started viewing him more as a key to ratings? Most people can agree that is a fine line to walk, and it is hard not to subconsciously deviate from it, regardless of what side the media takes.
The media had a chance to do interviews with Sheen without seeing him as a tool. As dumb as it sounds, the news and radio stations could have refused Sheen the chance to go on television. It seems like Sheen’s predicament allowed the media’s opinion of his actions to supersede the worry for a human being’s mental stability. If anything, the media did nothing to help Sheen. They put him into more of the public eye, and it seemed like they put him out there as the “Dunce of America.” Sheen recently said he is going to stop interviews because of the way the media has portrayed him.
In a radio interview, Sheen said it was most likely going to be his last interview because he believed he was being used.
“All they do is glad-hand me to get into my home and then they vilify me in their narrative speak,” Sheen said. “I mean, do they teach this stuff in broadcasting school, to have this oozing, judgmental tone when they describe you in their horrible, troll-like voiceovers?”
So, disregarding that there is a bigger problem if reporters have troll voices, Charlie does have a good point.
These news anchors had the chance to sit with Sheen and talk about his plight and how he needs help; however, it did seem that many times the media anchors were going the judgmental route. And the media’s job is not to judge no matter how crazy their news subject may appear. Their job is to present the information as it is with an unbiased view so their audience can decide what they want to believe.
So now the question becomes what the media is going to do next time some type of celebrity breaks down for everyone to watch. Are they going to fan the flames and lead him to the slaughter like some 21st-century gladiator, or are they going to take an unbiased view and submit that the person in question is, in fact, someone who needs help? The media needs to be careful when handling celebrity life in America. It seems America loves to watch celebrities fail, and the media needs to make sure they are not going to encourage that thought among Americans.