The Charlie Sheen Show Trainwreck Was Imminent and We All Know it

Is anyone surprised that Charlie Sheen bombed his show in Detroit last Saturday? The internet seems unsurprised, yet at the same time intent on gawking at it, covering the shit out of it and being like “HOLY SHIT Charlie Sheen is totes a trainwreck! WTF.”

I donโ€™t care about Charlie Sheen; I could care less about his batshit attention-mongering and whatever heโ€™s done/ continues to do. And so I admit the paradoxical nature of dedicating an entire blog post to the spectacle that is Sheen.

But what I really find troubling (or, you know, care about) is his entire story and our involvement with it. Because his entire story seems – if it seems anything other than the highly visible decline of an alienated and bitter drug addict โ€“ sad. Sad for Sheen, sad for the women he’s abused, sad for his friends, sad for his entourage, sad for his agent, sad for television, sad for culture, sad for the internet, sad for America, and sad for humanity.

I know that sounds melodramatic, but it isn’t. It honestly seems sad – objectively sad, if you’ll grant me that oxymoronish concept – that in Sheen what we have in front of us is the complete, ugly, social, emotional, and psychological breakdown of a former success story; a now-crazy lunatic who’s accomplished some like, really awesome things (Platoon, Wall Street); a poor, isolated idiot that has in essence rejected society and drawn so far into himself that his behavior is like โ€œholy shit.โ€ And it seems sad that we’re making fun of him for this.

In Seattle, there’s this infamous homeless man that walks the streets, and he is, well… gone. You can smell him from a block away, he’s got this nasty, nappy, yellow beard, his clothes are dingy rags, his tall, gaunt frame can’t weigh any more than 120 pounds, his fingernails are about half the length of his fingers, and he walks around in a perpetual, frantic, unintelligible mutter. I have no idea how this guy gets by or how he’s even still alive. The thing about this homeless man, though, is that (legend has it) he used to be a professor of mathematics at the University of Washington. He was a Man once. A normal, successful man. And so we look upon his story as Sad. It is agreed that this man is to be felt bad for. And it would be seen as insane and offensive for any of us to mock him for being crazy.

I have personally known people that have gone the kind of crazy that Sheen is going. This isn’t special – many people have known those that have gone the Sheen kind of crazy. But we don’t treat them the way we treat Sheen. We don’t treat that homeless guy with ridicule, scorn, and what ultimately amounts to an extreme amount of attention and, yes, fandom. We look upon these people with sadness, we ignore them, we tell other people we’re sorry for them – โ€œSorry, he hasnโ€™t taken his medicationโ€ – we give them change when they beg for it, we avoid them, we think of these individuals as disturbed and troubling. But Sheen โ€“ well, we just make fun of Sheen and make a huge fuss about how batshit his behavior is. And we love it. We love Sheen.

Today, on some morning show – maybe Today, I wasn’t paying attention – one of the feature stories was, of course, Sheenโ€™s mess of a show in Detroit on Saturday. Clips were played of the scene after the show in which members of the audience were asked to provide their reactions. “That was a waste of my time!” one said. “That sucked soooo-oooo bad! I want my money back!โ€ Another said something like: “No way, don’t go to this, a complete waste of your time.” But all of them were like, grinning into the camera as they said these things. They were all visibly excited and elated. And so I sort of felt like saying to these people, โ€œYou liked seeing Sheen go out like he did. You went there to boo him off the stage. Stop lying. The only reason you went to Sheen’s show was to see the trainwreck. You wanted to stake your claim as part of it. That wasnโ€™t a waste of your time โ€“ you went there with a mission and you accomplished it. Now you have something to talk to your friends about; to write emails about; to laugh at while wondering how people get that way. You can now say that You Were There. You’re lying because what happened that night was exactly what you wanted.”

I’m not defending Sheen. I promise that I’m not defending him. I think we can all agree that the person that is now Sheen sucks. And I understand that I’m just one of many stating the obvious: that we need to stop paying attention to him. I just think we need to chill out on this whole thing. Overall, as told, Charlie Sheenโ€™s story is sad, and it’s made sadder by the fact that weโ€™re all pointing our fingers like fourth graders, laughing, ridiculing, and lavishing him with attention. This behavior not only speaks for the kind of people we all really are, but it gives Sheen reason to perpetuate his dumbass behavior that everyone finds so appalling (and so secretly delicious). If we really hate Sheen โ€“ if we really think he’s a Bad Person – the worst thing we could do to him is crush his massively inflated ego, and we can crush his massively inflated ego by leaving him alone. We can dismiss him as unimportant and not worth listening to. Because this recalls an image of Sheen alone in his mansion with a bottle of cheap vodka in hand, disgusted by the world but having absolutely no justification for his disgust. It recalls the picture of a bitter, alone and out-of-touch old man, and if thatโ€™s what we all think he deserves, then maybe we should grow up a bit and just let the dude have it. TC mark


More From Thought Catalog

  • Droo

    That's one of my biggest issues with this Charlie Sheen crap – you paid to see him, you knew he was going to be a mess, so get over yourself with your whole “what a waste of my time” BS. Because you got what you paid for – a crazy, incoherent spectacle in which you saw a man at his worst.

  • Chris

    How about the fact that all his shows are sold out and non-refundable. Also his second show was pretty good in chicago apparently.

    • Michael Koh

      “I got your money already dude.”

  • Brandon

    ok really, let's let this whole charlie sheen thing go. it was funny for that one week at the end of february.

  • EmiliaBedelia

    totes :D ^_^

  • georgestrait

    How is everyone able to ignore the fact that he's just trolling people. He's selling out shows faster than dane fucking cook, the king of shitty comedy, and all he has to do is talk like he's posting on 4chan. For god's sake if people would just ignore him he would knock it off and go back to two and a half men, but instead he's getting a million twitter followers in a day. the guy's like the jesus of viral marketing and yet people want to act like he's sick in the head. wtf is wrong with you guys?

  • misskimball

    we already have mel gibson / christian slater / michael douglas etc. doing the alone and disgusted in mansions thing. I think we need him to die

  • Michael Koh

    “He was a Man once.”

    That's a great one.

  • Jennifer Sussex

    Sheen is (was) the highest paid actor on television and we look to actors to learn what it means to be people. We look at him to see what it means to be a 'bad person' or 'how to fail.' I think.

  • Sammymalone66

    It's a good thing that there aren't any writers who are attention-mongers.

  • Bolan

    remarkable insights here, that Charlie Sheen's breakdown and a homeless ex-professor are Sad

  • shoehorn

    i went charlie sheen crazy for a bit when i was 18
    “ridicule, scorn, and what ultimately amounts to an extreme amount of attention”
    was actually exactly what i received, on a smaller scale

  • Greg

    Seriously great article…My pops and I were listening to the radio and they did like a 25 minute report on Sheen. I originally framed this as America gladly giving a public platform to the equivalent of a crying, complaining, whining 10-yr old. But this piece makes me re-think that notion. Maybe this dude does have a deep problem?

  • Comic Insult

    His is the sort of celebrity trainwreck I don't enjoy watching.

  • Boom

    What the fuck?
    You can't honestly hold Sheen fully accountable for his behaviour. He's obviously full blown manic, which can turn the kindest friend in the world into an asshole. He needs therapy.

    • georgestrait

      nig u srs??

    • Brandon

      i know it's hard but may i suggest reading the article before commenting

  • lol

    “who even CARES about Charlie Sheen” is the new “I don't don't even OWN a television”

    • savagegirl

      No, actually the new favorite in my house is, “You only care about Charlie Sheen BECAUSE you have a television.

  • lol

    p.s. to OP,
    we don't have a choice about paying attention to him, news people like at the Today show do

    he will obviously go away in a month, your article really is a useless waste of words stating the obvious

  • Brittany

    Thank-you for this article.
    I agree, Sheen needs MEDICAL (not Media) attention.

blog comments powered by Disqus