Britney Spears shaving her head. Mel Gibson on a drunken, angry rant and his ballistic phone messages to his Russian woman. A wasted David Hasselhoff eating a cheeseburger on the floor. Charlie Sheen is just the latest on a long list of celebrity meltdowns that seem to captivate us.
Why are we so fascinated by this? What draws such massive news media attention to these disturbing episodes? Is there some perverse pleasure derived from watching a train wreck in action? Can it be as simple as our desire to see the rich and mighty fail? Maybe their pain makes us feel better about our own – for about six seconds. Charlie’s case entertains us now, but it makes me wonder: Does anyone care about saving the guy?
A cursory review of the Charlie Sheen trajectory.
Born to a famous dad, Martin Sheen, president on The West Wing. Also has a semi-famous brother, Emilio Estevez, of St. Elmo’s Fire, who was married to another semi-famous person, Paula Abdul.
He has played some very memorable characters, among them Bud Fox in Wall Street, Private Taylor in Platoon, and a screwball pitcher in Major League. He stars in one of television’s top rated shows since 2003, Two and a Half Men.
He has been with many “interesting” (re: gorgeous) women: He dated and then accidentally shot Kelly Preston, now John Travolta’s wife; he had a long-term relationship with porn star Ginger Lynn; he was married to Denise Richards, a Bond girl better known for her super hot threesome with Neve Campbell and Matt Dillon in Wild Things.
He reportedly earns $1.8 million per episode, and they shoot about 20 a season; he seems to spend it most freely on cocaine, pornography and hookers.
Some might suggest that his behavior is unsurprising, that he has too much money and he continues to get away with a shallow lifestyle. After all, he’s a grown man; whenever he gets arrested, it’s his problem. Let him deal with it. But that’s not happening, even now, as he refuses to go into rehab. Ironically, his monetary power is what shields him from the very help he needs on his inexorable path to self-destruction.
I’m no shrink, but I don’t think we’re looking at a guy who’s enjoying the perks and privileges of fame and wealth. For all his fortune, Charlie Sheen is a profoundly unhappy man. He can’t sustain a relationship with a woman or perhaps even another person at all. He has such a dark and gaping hole in his psyche that the only way he can deaden the pain of his own existence is through enough substance abuse to kill him.
You see? It’s not so great to be a celebrity after all. Who is there to save him?
Editors Note: We are pleased to announce Robert Rosenthal as a new feature writer joining the editorial staff of Digital Dads—look for more upcoming features from Rob, regularly, right here on Digital Dads, Where a Dad can be a Guy.