Like the rest of the world, I have watched with fascination and mirth as Charlie Sheen has entertained us with his outbursts and bad behavior, spiraling down into the quintessential Hollywood abyss like many others before him. But last night, after watching a segment on CBS News, then followed by ET; where an aggressive yet sallow Charlie Sheen professed he is clean of drugs and even willing to take a drug test on camera, I felt a tinge of shame for my small part in encouraging this train wreck by tuning in. I wouldn’t watch a program that was based on making fun of sad, mentally ill people, so I wondered why I was watchin this.
In the interview Charlie goes on to claim; “I’m tired of pretending like I’m not special. I’m tired of pretending like I’m not bitchin’, a total … rock star from Mars!” And many more incomprehensible humiliating rants. Since I’m not a psychologist, I can’t say for sure, but probably Bi-Polar or Schizophrenia is the diagnosis, exacerbated by excessive drug and alcohol abuse. “Self medicating” is what I’ve heard it called by my psychologist friends. It’s likely he has had numerous people try to help him, including past wives, parents, siblings, managers and producers, and has had boat loads of treatment, but to no avail. As we all know, you can’t keep someone properly medicated and in treatment unless they really want it. What we are witnessing is a full blown mental break down, on National TV, Twitter, Facebook and every other screen. Warner Bros and Sheens long time publicist, Stan Rosenfield, (who quit today) are claiming “no comment” in futile attempts to not drag this disturbing spectacle out any further. Even Katie Couric seemed disappointed she had to cut to a “Sheen update” in the middle of the evening news tonight.
It reminds me (somewhat) of the movie the Soloist, where Jamie Foxx, plays a former child prodigy (Cello Player) Nathanail Ayers, suffering from Schizophrenia, who went from a promising musical career studying at Juilliard into an adult life of homelessness and despair. Robert Downey Jr., plays Steve Lopez, the do-gooder LA Times journalist, who tries to get Ayers to off the streets and back into performing again (which doesn’t go exactly to plan). The movie is an excellent (and heart wrenching) portrayal of a talented mind destroyed by mental illness. While Sheen certainly hasn’t become homeless (yet), and isn’t exactly a former child prodigy, I do think he had a promising career back in the day, when he starred in two hit movies Platoon and Wall Street, directed by Oliver Stone. After that he was seriously considered by Stone for the lead role in Born in the Fourth of July, who then instead re-cast Tom Cruise in the role. Cruise later went on to receive an Oscar nomination for best actor in the movie. I’m sure Olive Stone saw this tragedy coming a mile away.
Unfortunately the news media will apparently continue to capitalize on this voyeuristic ride into self-destruction. I see there is a lot more Sheen planned for tonight, with the networks drawing big numbers by parading a mentally ill man in front of America.