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Sheen Madness

Posted on Mar 3, 2011

By Ruth Marcus

Call me No. 1,279,090.

That would be my place among the ranks of Twitter followers amassed by public meltdown artist Charlie Sheen in little more than 24 hours. 

If there is a better illustration of the decline of American culture, the triumph of technology over privacy, and the end of shame as a motivating force, I can’t think of one. 

The spectacle of the celebrity in drug-fueled, alcohol-induced, sycophant-enabled collapse is so familiar it has become a lucrative industry of relentless paparazzi and voyeuristic websites. We have been treated to Lindsay Lohan’s gallery of mug shots; Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic tirade upon being arrested for drunk driving; Alec Baldwin’s voice mail raging to his 11-year-old daughter that she is a “thoughtless little pig.”

And, of course, Sheen, in serial meltdowns involving cocaine, prostitutes and assault charges.

Sheen’s latest unraveling, though, is remarkable for his unabashed, come-on-down approach: This star is not fleeing the press but inviting it to watch in real time. 

I have—at least I had—zero interest in Charlie Sheen. I could not tell you what the television show he gets paid a reported $1.8 million per episode for is about. But I am fascinated by the phenomenon of popular fascination with Sheen.

We know the man is deeply troubled, self-absorbed to the point of being grandiose. We in the press know we are exploiting his obvious mania and egotism.

“I’m tired of pretending like I’m not special,” Sheen told NBC. “I’m tired of pretending like I’m not a total bitchin’ rock star from Mars.” As to what he wants his daughters to think about the incident last year in which Sheen, allegedly accompanied by a prostitute and high on cocaine, trashed his Plaza Hotel room while the girls slept next door, Sheen told ABC’s “20/20”: “They’ll wake up one day and realize how cool Dad is. And you know, he signs all the checks on the front, not the back.”

The decent thing to do would be to avert our eyes and hope he gets help.

But human nature is what it is. Everyone slows down to see the car crash. And this time, the car’s driver is giving interviews—endless interviews. He has invited the networks—except the one that just suspended him—to get a glimpse of his life with the live-in girlfriends he calls the “goddesses,” a porn star and a marijuana magazine cover model.

And, until they were mercifully removed from his custody Tuesday night, there were Sheen’s nearly 2-year-old twin boys. On Wednesday morning, Sheen was back on the air for a predawn interview with NBC: “It’s not about ego. It’s not about emotion. It’s just about getting very focused and getting very much in touch about what I have to do to complete the task of bringing these two beautiful young men back home to the home they deserve to be raised in, with more love, compassion, support, child care and everything else you could possibly want for a child.”

Well, a stable father and stable family would be nice.

And now, perhaps inevitably, we have Sheen tweeting the breakdown, complete with pictures of him, one of the goddesses and a bottle of chocolate milk. “Pardon my absence…. My first concern is my kids,” Sheen tweeted Wednesday. Three hours later? “Ready for my next fastball, world? PLAN BETTER. Applies to everything where an excuse now sits. Try it. U won’t be wrong. Ever.”

By the time I finished writing this, Sheen’s number of followers was up to 1,328,407.

Ruth Marcus’ e-mail address is marcusr(at symbol)

© 2011, Washington Post Writers Group


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Not One More!'s avatar

By Not One More!, March 8, 2011 at 2:46 pm Link to this comment

Larry Flynt, of Hustler fame, once said what is obscene was not his naked models but the wars and hungry people that we allow to happen without the public outcry. He has a point.

John Lennon said,  “If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there’d be peace.”

I don’t understand all this hoopola when they are such greater issues (Guantanamo, the war, lack of health care etc), though I don’t think that Sheen is acting as a reasonable and nurturing father.

Bottom line, all this attention on Sheen is deliberate by our media, which refuses to focus on those issues that kill and maim much larger numbers of people. If they had been reporting on the causes of the war truthfully (and they knew the truth) instead of being mouthpieces for the corporate elite, you wouldn’t have as many people misguided about the reality of the war.

http://www.NotOneMore.US - Take the Pledge for Peace

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By Joe the unlicensed plumber, March 8, 2011 at 2:01 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Poor Charlie has cooked his brain in cocaine. Anyone who has seen 10 minutes of a recent interview and can’t see it, does not know his right hand from his left. His mind is gone but he does not yet realize it. I have no animosity toward him. It may be too late for his mind, but if he gets help it may save his life.
  There could be a life lesson here for younger people. Show them 5 episodes of “Two and a Half Men” followed by one of Sheen’s interviews. The latter being the result of the portrayed lifestyle + cocaine + time. Most kids won’t get it, but a few of the more perceptive ones will.
  Actually I watched the program occasionally. Not because I was seduced by the lifestyle, but because I liked the character of the housekeeper.

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Blackspeare's avatar

By Blackspeare, March 8, 2011 at 11:11 am Link to this comment

Maybe Sheen is sane and the rest of us are crazy!  But, in any event, Charlie Sheen and i have one thing in common——we both live with Goddesses!!!

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By call me roy, March 8, 2011 at 9:30 am Link to this comment

Yea sure Ruth, Crazy Charlie is so much worse than the vomit with bombs who blow up, children, women, people, animals, anything living, buildings, (and luckily), themseles in the name of Allah. What a joke.

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By Tom Dolan, March 7, 2011 at 5:14 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

A great piece.  I’ve put up an essay about the correlation between this ongoing Sheentastrophe and American attitudes toward self, compassion, and consumerism.  It’s called “To Be Sheen and Not Heard,” and comments are welcome!

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By KANUEAR, March 7, 2011 at 9:01 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Carefull America!  Those who would support the right to say what one would like mister Sheen could have their rights withdrawn in seconds, painted a criminal and labeled un-patriotic. Some of us are old enough to have seen the same s*** happen to different Americans over and over again. What’s is happening in the east (revolution) has no anchor on it’s ass and could very well happen here again. Will your national guard son or daughter shoot you or a sibling to protect a greedy rich murdering minority? You can only spend so much money in a life time but to control the pockets and destiny of others (as you can clearly see) brings grief, suffering and eventually turmoil. People, true Americans, that support and build this country are tired of seeing others reaping and harboring wealth while they suffer. And I think that the smoke screen that the political parties put up is fading out. Republicans, democrats and independents are all feeling the same results of politics. Pain has no preference. Maybe, just maybe this could be biting at C.Sheen ass. It sure bites mine. There is something much greater than a tea party. It’s called the LIFE party. To those who can’t see or are in denial…. KEEP LOOKING AT THE WALL. EVENTUALLY, HOPEFULLY BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE, YOU’LL SEE THE ART AND THE WRITING INSTEAD OF JUST THE WALL.

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Mike789's avatar

By Mike789, March 7, 2011 at 7:51 am Link to this comment

Sorry about the misappropriation. I thought it was Dylan Thomas’s quote and then changed my feeble memoried mind. That is, if one can really call it a mind.

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By reynolds, March 7, 2011 at 1:10 am Link to this comment

if he doesn’t care what anyone thinks, why was he all
over tv and radio last week? he doesn’t think what
anyone cares.

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By TDoff, March 6, 2011 at 7:59 pm Link to this comment

Anyone who is intelligent, aware, alert and seeking to learn in this world we homo sapiens have created and inhabit, especially here in the ‘christian’ US, will recognize it’s perfidy, treachery, hypocrisy, mendacity, criminality, and pompous pious perversities…e.g., ‘If’n ‘god’ dint want me to be rich, I wunt be rich’, and ‘Let’s go kill them heathen———s, ‘god’s’ on our side’.

And anyone who recognizes these abominations, and isn’t crazy, or trodding along that path, is missing within themselves a vital aspect of humanity.

I’m not saying Charlie is crazy, he may just be recognizing the horrific reality around him, and rich enough and brave enough and sane enough to have the freedom to not give a Good G-D F*** what anyone else thinks of his opinion…especially since his opinion is much closer to a reality and truth than that hypocritically spouted by most amongst us, Marcus included.

Especially those who bear the most responsibility for the creation of this travesty we call the US, our politicians and ‘christian’ ‘leaders’, AND WE WHO PUT THEM THERE, but do not have the cojones to call it like it is, or the sanity to recognize reality.

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By wes, March 6, 2011 at 1:15 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

My take here:

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By reynolds, March 6, 2011 at 12:51 pm Link to this comment

he went like one that hath been stunned,
and is of sense forlorn:
a sadder and a wiser man
he rose the morrow morn.

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By surfnow, March 6, 2011 at 12:47 pm Link to this comment

Ms.Marcus does it again. What a waste of valuable print space. I don’t give a rat’s *** how high Charlie Sheen gets. It’s his life.If you want a real look at the decadence of Amerikan Culture, just look at out Congress and so called justice system- their *** kissing of Korporate Amerika ia what has destroyed us, not any one individual’s party habits.

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culheath's avatar

By culheath, March 6, 2011 at 12:30 pm Link to this comment

“Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”  Dylan Thomas

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By KANUEAR, March 6, 2011 at 10:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The only problem Sheen has is the US government. His problem really started when asked questions about the fake 911 attack on a well known talk show. You know when so-called christians (blaming arabs) destroyed the lives of thousands of AMERICANS and thousands more since? If it wasn’t for the actions of the last administrations murders Sheen would business as usual.

          U. S. A. SUCK-CESS FORMULA
Mega oil profits + so-called leaders + banks + corporations + investors etc. = DEAD AMERICAN AND OTHERS AROUND THE WORLD.

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Mike789's avatar

By Mike789, March 6, 2011 at 8:04 am Link to this comment

I’m reminded of a kind of Maileresque character, born a Christian (an that should matter at least in theory; the ethic now licensed to material gain and worn as bling), born a generation or two beyond the psychopathological mid-20th Century, aghast at the recidivism, aghast at what we have become, at what we could have been in the wake of the sacrifices gone before us to make war obsolete, gone before us that we should have a voice, (a voice in the wilderness?) and aghast at the future his progeny must endure for the delight of the masses and the sake of corporate pockets.

Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner ~ “Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

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By Swivel Neck Jones, March 5, 2011 at 8:54 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Shouldn’t we turn our celebrity focus onto our leaders?

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By William Brooks, March 5, 2011 at 8:50 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Sheen should be the least of our concerns

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culheath's avatar

By culheath, March 5, 2011 at 5:46 am Link to this comment

@D.R.Zing: You’re too kind…well done.

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By Igloo, March 5, 2011 at 4:38 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Rome had its bread and circuses, we have Charlie Sheen.
Even the Middle Ages were better than today, at least people had spiritual guidance. What do we have? A population that has lost its ability to distinguish between right and wrong, addicted to drugs, ignorant of what goes around the world, self righteous, arrogant, technophobes living in a science fiction world, still trying to find an alternate earth when it doesn’t exist. The consequences are too sad to think about.

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D.R. Zing's avatar

By D.R. Zing, March 5, 2011 at 2:52 am Link to this comment

“Are my methods unsound?”
“I don’t see any method at all, sir.”

“We train young men to drop fire on people. But their commanders won’t allow them to write fuck on their airplanes because it’s obscene.

Apocalypse Now

And then this load of crap:
“The spectacle of the celebrity in drug-fueled, alcohol-induced, sycophant-enabled collapse is so familiar it has become a lucrative industry of relentless paparazzi and voyeuristic websites.”

You might want to Google Charlie Sheen Washington Post before you publish such preposterous bullshit. 

No, Ms. Marcus, we have seen the problem, we have seen the insanity, we have seen the obscenity, we have seen the methodical madness and it is you

How dare you pretend it is the paparazzi and voyeuristic websites perpetuating this garbage. It is the mainstream news media, which has become no better than the paparazzi and voyeuristic websites; in fact it is the transformation of the news media into paparazzi and voyeuristic websites.

Want to do something about this situation, Ms. Marcus? Really do something about it? Then stop writing about Charlie Sheen and start writing about the cesspool that is the modern news media. 

You might pretend you’re above it all, but you’re not. You’re right there in the steaming middle of it.

You should be protesting in the streets about the squalid state of your profession. Charlie Sheen’s antics will in no way affect the future of the humanity.  The disgusting state of journalism has destroyed and will continue to destroy what is left of free speech, democracy and humanity— the way you judge the viability of presidential candidates not on the content of their ideas but on the content of their wallets; the way you objective dunderheads have allowed abortion to dominate the agenda for thirty years without ever letting us get to debating overpopulation; the way you allowed oil-company scientists to dissemble about global warming for decades without ever letting us debate the destruction of the ecosystem. 

And thank God Al Gore put together a PowerPoint presentation that you, your editors, and your idiotic ombudsman could understand, or you would still be presenting the “objective” view of paid pathological liars posing as climatologists. 

Journalism is a threat because it is little more than a turd-stirring machine and in that way you are threatening free speech because at some point someone will realize free speech does not work when pathological liars can buy air time, buy interviews, buy the news media. 

Get real. Forget Charlie. Watch his dad in Apocalypse Now.  You’re living it.

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By janet marsh, March 4, 2011 at 8:23 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Sorry Charlie, but, those beautiful twin boys do not deserve to have to
live in the mess you call a home.  When they get to teenage and start
acting like they are crazy,  blame yourself and not your parents.  kennybent

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By Alan, March 4, 2011 at 7:15 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hello!  Hello?
Why has the Post-Keith-Olberman MSNBC decided
to reserve a special spot in all of it’s
“left” screamer shows for all things Charlie?

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By WriterOnTheStorm, March 4, 2011 at 6:22 pm Link to this comment

Ms Marcus, if you step out of your knee-jerk, moralizing journalist jumpsuit for
a moment, you might understand something all the other moralizing journo-
cops missed. There’s something truly instructive, indeed revelatory about
Sheen. He is the nation’s mirror image of itself.

Think about it. Are we not a nation claiming to be full of tiger’s blood? Are we
not a shining democratic rock star among an adoring coterie of third world
wannabes? Are we not helpless in the face of our own desires and indulgences?
Are we not addicted to rare, dangerous and expensive substances? Are we not a
nation in denial about the problems we face? Do we not expect unquestioning
loyalty from any who come into our glorious orbit? Do we not blame and
scapegoat the less powerful among us? Do we not lash out violently when we
feel slighted? Are we not about winning at any cost?

Perhaps you should consider that Sheen fascinates not because we are shallow,
but because he is the embodiment— the inevitable fruit—of the slash-and-
burn-capitalism and the narcissistic, pubescent exceptionalism we have all
internalized so utterly and completely. So take another good look at Sheen.
That’s how the rest of the world sees America.

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PatrickHenry's avatar

By PatrickHenry, March 4, 2011 at 5:08 pm Link to this comment


I agree with you fully, a bigoted article.

Sheen make a tragic mistake against TPTB in Hollywood.

He pissed off 800 pound gorilla in our media, he will ‘get it’ on the TV, in print and over the radio.

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By Andrew, March 4, 2011 at 3:28 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

There are people being killed Libya; there are authoritarian regimes that may or
may not topple in Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Iran.  The entire Middle East is nervous
or worse.  The rainforest of the world are being cut down at alarming rates.  The
Burmese junta is still the Burmese junta.  The US military budget is many times
that of its closest competitor, and it keeps going up, while basic services to US
citizens are going down.  The oil and gas industry wants to the right to pollute the
drinking water of NYC.  And then there’s Charlie Sheen.  Some one should put that
poor sap out of his misery.  Please, more Emilio, less Charlie.

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Lafayette's avatar

By Lafayette, March 4, 2011 at 12:20 pm Link to this comment

Sheen who?

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By lulu, March 4, 2011 at 11:41 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

brilliant culhealth,
couldn’t have said it better. Charlie Sheen should not have to apologise for not bombing/killing millions in wars of aggression!

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By reynolds, March 4, 2011 at 11:26 am Link to this comment

do i ask myself questions and answer them? no.
it is a terminally bored society for whom the message
is the medium.

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johnnyfarout's avatar

By johnnyfarout, March 4, 2011 at 11:22 am Link to this comment

I’m going with BarbieQue on this one! I’ve been thinking for a few days now that Sheen is acting the quintessentially “Libertarian American American” ; the guy who’s going all the way for the USA! Doing things his way, no holds barred! All un-trite and slobber and innuendo and foaming crazy with just a bit too much of a glint in the eye and a wink here and there to have us all thinking he knows the known unknowns: a latter day Sarah Palin with a front row seat at the Big Queen’s big funbag party! Invited because he’s actually the one no one wants to sit next to, except for every other biker and raw nerve white line fever hair raiser in America, too! The big middle finger to all the suits and grumpy hiring bourgeoisies who think they are the winners and everybody else should lick their shiny boots of Corinthian leather and use Head & Shoulders Shampoo on their kids. Tiger Blood on its way to the 4th planet from the sun! Print that motherfuckers! ehehahhaLOLoutloud! O’the sanctity of contracts! Lawyer up and come out guns a’blazin’: share the wackiness with a good lookin’ babe, or three, who will suck on whatever you point at all the way to the courthouse next to the Bank. What in god’s name else is TV for?! America the Four Spacious Skies! EhehaLOLoutloud!

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culheath's avatar

By culheath, March 4, 2011 at 11:13 am Link to this comment

A completely bigoted article.

I like how the only knowledge you have of Sheen is by way of reports like yours that feed off his public persona. Its ricochet slander.

My take: of the sanest individuals I’ve seen interviewed.

Brilliant? Absolutely. Eccentric? Yep. Passionate? You bet. Volatile? Somewhat? Dangerous? Just to the people who want to keep snoring and don’t get it.

Kudos Mr Sheen.

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By SarcastiCanuck, March 4, 2011 at 10:19 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Reality check Ms.Marcus….Charlie is 1)Extrememely rich 2)Utterly famous 3)Screws lots of hot chicks 4)Has wild fun parties 5)Does lots of cool things 6)Doesn’t have to answer to any controlling,wife,boss,parent,girlfriend…..He also seems to be quite truthful in his assesments of lifes hypocricies and knows that people who are rich and famous in America can get away with murder.If anything,he is a poster boy for the facade and phoniness of Hollywood and the materialistic selfishness of a lot of current society.I find his honesty refreshing in this age of spin,hype and P.R…Charlie definately has balls and unlike Tiger,he doesn’t pretend to be what he isn’t.I’d also like to be invited to one of his parties and predict that Charlie will find God or rehab in a year and America will welcome him back into her forgiving bosom,and seven digit salary.

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BarbieQue's avatar

By BarbieQue, March 4, 2011 at 9:28 am Link to this comment

Our Ruthie Writes:

>>”...Sheen, in serial meltdowns involving cocaine, prostitutes and assault charges…the man is deeply troubled, self-absorbed to the point of being grandiose…”<<

Ruthie knows she just described probably at least 80% of Washington DC.

But she would never be that honest. She wants to run with the crowd that loves to heap shame on whatever hapless clown is todays favorite. Pretending that this nonsense makes her outraged is a little funny (just a little).

Ruthie marches on:

>>”... his life with the live-in girlfriends he calls the “goddesses,” a porn star and a marijuana magazine cover model…”<<

I’d be willing to bet Charlie treats these women better than Bubba treated Monica Lewinsky or Juanita Broaddrick (put some ice on it)

Too bad no one has asked Charlie about cigars

Charlie Sheen Rocks. I’ll bet he’s a blast to be around. I’d take him over most of DC. They’re “Gnarly Gnarlingtons!!”

This collection of Sheen clips will make you laugh until you cry:

Washington, District of Columbia:
Hollywood for Ugly People

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By Inherit The Wind, March 4, 2011 at 8:45 am Link to this comment

Why do you care? Leave it to the Star, People Mag, and the National Enquirer.

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winsome1's avatar

By winsome1, March 4, 2011 at 8:44 am Link to this comment

Uh, Truthdig?  This piece is trash.

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By realveive, March 4, 2011 at 6:56 am Link to this comment

Charlie Sheen a talent gone to waste.  He could be much more than he is.

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By James R, March 4, 2011 at 2:37 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Charley may be off the rockers and crazy as a loon and even wrong but there is not a hint nor word of crazy in his comment “It’s not about ego. It’s not about emotion. It’s just about getting very focused and getting very much in touch about what I have to do to complete the task of bringing these two beautiful young men back home to the home they deserve to be raised in, with more love, compassion, support, child care and everything else you could possibly want for a child.”

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