We have some kind of grotesque addiction to seeing stars fall apart for their myriad addictions, flaws, and tendencies towards the crazy. After all, they are so carefully burnished, from their physical appearances to their bright, shiny reputations. They attain for some transient moment, perfection. Stars have the lives we think would be perfect. And it is this emphasis on self-perfection that has led to Charlie Sheen.
Constructed from “Adonis DNA,” with “tiger blood” flowing through his veins, and formerly the highest paid actor in television, ostensibly he epitomizes the ideal person. At a time when lady blogs continually belay the regression of men into indolent, man-babies, an image fueled by Judd Apatow films and Zack Galifinakis, out comes Sheen, eyes blazing with “PASSION,” espousing the ultimate mantra: “WIN.”
Sheen has sacrificed himself, flaws and all, to the claws of the media to show us the dangers of our rising narcissism. His indulgence in his every hedonistic whim, and his eagerness to publicize every instance and thought of his grand burnout have not ostracized him from Hollywood, the media, or the masses. In fact, he has acquired an even huger following, past the viewers of “Two and a Half Men” (who actually watched that show, anyway?), being hailed as the fastest person ever to get a million followers on Twitter. He has gotten advertisement offers, sponsors for his Youtube channel, “Sheen’s Korner,” and some enterprising individual has already begun selling a “Tiger Blood” branded drink.
Everybody around Sheen has tried to capitalize on his breakdown, and even we innocent viewers are culpable. Even as we are disgusted by his actions, we are fascinated by him. We glorify a man who has abused women, abused drugs, and abused his fame because he exists as a fantasy of what we could do and be given the resources and liberty.
We only fuel Sheen’s fire. He parades an otherworldly lifestyle in front of us, where news cameras are at his beck and call, and we hinge onto his every word. His self-confidence is staggering in his stark amount of conviction, in his inhuman ability to superficially bounce back from every obstacle thrown at him. He has done dangerous, dangerous things, and is probably dangerously, dangerously deranged, but a guilty little part of our brains admit it’s a tiny bit impressive.
Every time we post photos onto Facebook, update our statuses, Twitter our latest mundane activity, brag about our black-outs and intoxicated mishaps, we come a little closer to the Sheen shtick. Social media has given us the medium to become stars in our own right, and we freely give away our privacy and self-respect. Just as the media and industry exploit Sheen’s insanity, media and industry exploit our narcissism everyday, collecting the tide of information we shove at them to carefully control everything we do.
Sheen is the extreme embodiment of the consequences of our narcissistic actions and propensities. Here is a man who has lost his children, his job, and his reputation due to his ego and we should not try to relive his benders or torrid glory days. Perhaps Sheen said it best himself:
“I’m on a drug. It’s called Charlie Sheen. It’s not available because if you try it you will die. Your face will melt off and your children will weep over your exploded body.”
Sheen’s story should be a warning against the over-sharing, arrogance and glorification of hedonism of our current culture. Don’t try to be Charlie Sheen. It will not turn out well.