Thursday, March 3, 2011

FTT Off-Topic: The Last Time, I Promise, To Talk About Charlie Sheen

As always with FTT Off-Topic, there is a big wide Internet if you want to keep your chocolate sports away from my peanut butter opinions. Or something.

To do the blogwork, I also do the Twitwork, because it's just faster or easier or Teh Dumber way to get the ideas roiling for the thrice-daily blog grist. (Thrice? Yes, actually. Trying to devote more time to you hordes this year. Click on some ads to encourage me.) And this week, as has been true for every other format of media, has been All Sheen, All The Time.

Now, I've got four points that should obvious, but doesn't seem to be, about this whole kerfluffle.

1) Whether you want to blame Sheen for being a quote machine and pub whore or the public for being so sick and jaded that the spiralling madness of an addict counts as entertainment, this thing serves as a living litmus test of how remarkably lazy our media is.

In the last decade, we've gone to war under false pretenses, saw the consolidation and profitization of what is still referred to with a straight face as news, and lived through an era where income redistribution to the super-wealthy has achieved levels not seen in this country since the 19th century. We've also seen massive climate change, unemployment that's historically high, diplomatic upheaval in regions of the world where democracy has never worked for very long at all, wars and disasters and scandal and more, more, more. We also have unprecedented access, via the defining achievement of the age, via the same Intertubes you are using to read these words.

In short, there is no dearth of things of importance, and public interest, to discuss.

Our media chooses, instead, to be a 24/7 megaphone for a self-destructive attention whore who happens to perform on a situation comedy.

No, seriously.

And despite what you might have heard about the ratings of such show, it's still dwarfed by any number of other programs, including sports events, movies, concert films and so on.

Now, why is this the case?

Because Sheen is famous, and because it requires no -- as in absolutely no -- work on the part of the media to stick a microphone in front of his hole, nod occasionally, and turn it off after a while for Big Ratings. It's easier than taking a leak, and about as pleasant to smell.

I went to school for a journalism degree. I thank all that is holy and otherwise that due to the terrible starting salaries and education debt, I didn't go into the field. I'm pretty sure I'd have gone on a killing spree by now.

2) If this man doesn't die and/or suffer fairly soon, a lot of people are going to look as bad as he does.

The late great comedian Bill Hicks had a marvelous bit about the hypocrisy of the War on Drugs. First off, that it implied that people on drugs were *winning.* His central point was that if these were so bad for you, why did (a) we allow for the sale and use of terrible for you drugs like alcohol and tobacco, and (b) why were people like Keith Richards and Jimi Hendrix able to create such amazing work while under the influence?

Everyone more or less assumes that Sheen's due for a comeuppance of historic proportions, and that his sex triad and recreational drugs and wild quotes and insults towards his management has to end in his complete and utter personal destruction, and soon. But what if it doesn't? Hugh Hefner certainly hasn't moved to the median too much over his life. Neither has, well, Richards. Or Jack Nicholson, or Donald Trump, or Hulk Hogan or Ozzy Osbourne or any number of other egoists and alpha freaks that are more famous now for being famous than any other purpose.

I guarantee you that, if Sheen is still riding high and doing "well" in 2-3 months, we're going to see any number of wannabees start giving interviews just like him, with even more obviously written and faked copy. I just hope that the fad wears off and we don't keep giving them free pub. I'm tired of it after two days; I don't really want to imagine a steady diet of this. Reality TV was enough. (Or someone hires me to whip up some rants for them. Watch how fast I can get off this high horse, Hollywood!)

3) To everyone who is going hard after this -- following his Twitter feed, naming their fantasy teams after his spew, parroting him and wearing T-shirts and the like... well, um, hmm. Will you keep doing it if and when he dies, or something horrific happens to his women or his kids or some other relatively innocent bystander?

You see, that's the problem with paying your money and going to rattle the cage at the freak show. It gets really hard to tell who should be on which side of the bars.

4) This wouldn't be working without the implied menage a trois. To quote the man, well, Duh. And I'd say more about that, but some things need to be saved for Posterity. (Oh, Posterity. You are such a tease.)

We now return you to your regularly scheduled laughing at people who shouldn't be seen. Moving on...

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