Wednesday, March 9, 2011

American Hypocrisy: Enough To Drive You Nuts

I think the Los Angeles Times' Neal Gabler gets Charlie Sheen a bit:
Bruce Willis once described the basic trajectory of celebrity in America as having four stages: You arrive, you peak, you bomb and you come back. Whether he realized it or not, Willis was also describing the phases that anthropologist Joseph Campbell had discerned for the hero across cultures — save for one thing. Heroes don't bomb. That is a distinctly American interpolation, one designed to ensure that our demigods never confuse themselves with gods. As our stars rose into the heavens, we reserved the right to humble them, to bring them back to Earth. Think of Eddie Murphy or John Travolta or Tom Cruise, all of whom seemed to get too big for their britches and were brought down a peg for it.

So Charlie Sheen's verboten media blitz flaunting a lifestyle that is decidedly not shared by the vast majority of his fans (how many of us have two live-in porn star "goddesses" or can profess to have consumed an amount of cocaine that would have killed a mortal?) explicitly violates the contract, which seems to have been Sheen's point.

He says he isn't off the rails like Mel Gibson or Lindsay Lohan. He insists he is the engineer. He is doing exactly what he wants to do, what his riches and fame allow and entitle him to do. As he puts it, he is embracing his "rock star" life.

The irony is that living large and doing exactly as he pleases has long been a central ingredient in Sheen's appeal. His role on "Two and a Half Men" as a womanizing, footloose bachelor seems lifted out of his real life, which is one of the reasons it is funny. We think we are seeing Sheen spoofing himself. When Sheen reminded us that his life is even more extreme than his character's, the media turned censorious — an example of trying to have your comedy and revile it too. Sheen is absolutely right to call this hypocrisy. He has never pretended to be a Boy Scout. He has always purported to be precisely the opposite.
And now Roseanne Barr, of all people, has stepped forward to add another dose of reality to the proceedings.
The comedienne, who worked with Lorre on "Roseanne" from 1990 to 1992, wrote three blog posts on her website supporting Sheen and insulting Lorre's writing on "Men," which she described as "s--- jokes and adolescent sniggering over breasts and women's body parts lines."

"I never really worked with him, as he was mostly drunk when he was on my show, and too busy making deals with my producers for shows that copied mine...to turn in too many good scripts," Barr wrote of Lorre.

The 58-year-old actress added that Brett Butler, who worked with Lorre on "Grace Under Fire," and Cybil Shepard, who worked with him on "Cybill", also suffered at Lorre's hands and "were often out in the parking lot screaming at Chuck and crying."
That sounds like WINNING! if I've ever heard it,...