As a society, we love to tear other people down. When someone else fails, it somehow makes us feel better about the mess our own lives have become. I know, because I do it all the time. But in the case of Charlie Sheen and his public meltdown, I just can’t do it.
Sheen’s interview with ABC News’ Andrea Canning is painful to watch. His eyes are sunken into the back of his head. His speech is violent. He shifts around on the edge of his seat. Is he drunk or high right now? I have no idea. But he’s clearly in a backslide, and people are loving it.
My problem with this is that we all break from time to time. We do foolish things all the time, we lie about it and try hard to pretend we’re so much stronger. The difference is that Sheen is a famous actor. When he melts down, the world gets to watch. Most of us do our breaking in private.
Not that I’m completely sympathetic to Sheen. He is choosing to come apart on camera. I guess when you’re an actor, you can’t help it. I also understand that we love a tale of redemption. If he comes out the other end intact, the public will probably put this aside and watch his work again. I feel the same way about Mel Gibson. Most people hate him these days because he said some pretty hateful things in a drunken rage caught on tape. Did his rage capture his true heart? I’m not so sure.
When you’re messed up and angry, it doesn’t take much to send you into a tear about other ethnicities, religions, etc. Some people do it thinking they’re just being funny. We all think we’re hilarious when we’re drunk, don’t we?
A few things I know about myself: I don’t care if someone is gay, religious or atheist, black or yellow, thin or fat. I just want everyone to get along, which I realize is a pipe dream in itself.
All that said, I’ve said some pretty rotten things in my day. Back around 1992 I used the N-word a lot. I had a lot of anger in me and I was also listening to Ice-T’s Body Count album a lot. If he could use that word as a black man, surely it was acceptable to toss around like any other bad word. I’m from Revere, Mass., and I know full well how to drop a few hundred F-bombs.
I’ve made and laughed at gay jokes even though several of the people I love are gay.
But there was never a TV camera or audio recorder nearby to capture it.
Even in recovery, I fail on this score.
Thing is, I think most of us do. We probably all do, but I try not to frame things in absolutes. Surely there are a few people out there who are pure as the freshly fallen snow.
If these people do exist, I hope a camera will be there to record it, if only to balance the scales against the Hollywood meltdowns and our own personal fuck-up festivals.
We all sin and we all need to do better.
We all get a shot at forgiveness and redemption.
That’s what I believe.
I wish Charlie Sheen nothing but the best.
I hope he can get it together, because I really do like his work.