Crazy can be great entertainment, until all of a sudden it isn’t. It’s the car wreck of the entertainment world; facinating at the beginning, but it quickly becomes sad, mundane, or offensive, and you just want to turn away.
Twenty years ago a guy named Morton Downey Jr. was one of the biggest stars on television. One of the first real wackos on TV, he set the stage for much of the trashy shock television that now floods the airwaves. His television antics were often insulting, demeaning, racist, and homophobic. The Washington Post called him a “maniac”, and he ultimately lost his show to be replaced by another man of questionable sanity, Rush Limbaugh, after he made racist comments on his show and then refused to apologize.
During attempts to revive his career, he is suspected faking an attack, in which he claimed Neo-Nazis had shaved a swastika on his head. He was arrested for attacking a gay guest on another show, and sued for exposing himself to a woman guest. In another case, he was sued for $40 million dollars after calling a guest a “pig”, “hooker”, “tramp”, “slut”, and claimed she had a venereal disease, all while attempting to bang his pelvis into hers. He punched Stuttering John during an appearance on the Howard Stern Show. He died in obscurity in 1996.
Of course, while most of us have forgotten Morton Downey Jr., we are currently all captivated with the “worthy carrier of the crazy torch”, Charlie Sheen. Unlike Downey, who used crazy as his ticket to fame, Sheen is actually a talented guy who is unfortunately decending into nuttiness due to substance abuse. But Sheen is going publically insane with a distinct actor’s flair. His astoundingly wacky statements often sound as if they had been written by Shakespeare on meth.
Unfortunately, we are probably witnessing the end of his career too. He’s just been fired as the highest paid television star in America, and in a few months he and his incredible soliloquies will probably just be a funny and sad memory.
And it appears another major crazy television phenomenon, Glenn Beck, is also on the decline. Beck’s television ratings have tanked seriously in the last few months, and his show has now fallen to fifth place among Fox’s six weekday talk shows.
Personally, I don’t miss Morton Downey Jr., and a television slate missing Beck, and with a show called “One And A Half Men” would be just fine.