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We Probably Shouldn't Be Laughing At Charlie Sheen

by Andrew Woods
4 March 2011 8 Comments

Much like his winning tiger-blood parties, Charlie Sheen's capacity for inadvertent yet hilarious meme creation seems to know no limits. But if there's a real mental health disorder at the bottom of all this, should we even be laughing?

You would have to say that Charlie Sheen is either mad or having us on. The comments he has come out with recently regarding ‘earthworms’, ‘warlocks’, ‘exploding bodies’ and contractual disputes are extremely amusing. If Ricky Gervais had said them, then we would feel no hesitation in laughing. The fact that Sheen could actually mean and believe these things adds a context that Gervais couldn’t provide (yet), and in this sense Sheen is funnier than Gervais on these topics. Much funnier than he is on Two And A Half Men. But should we be laughing?

If we suppose that Charlie Sheen is on the level, and that he is a fire-starting warlock, then we must assume that Charlie Sheen is mad. Insane. As mad as a march hare. So, we are in fact, laughing at a man who is insane. You are laughing at the mad. A man as mad as the man sitting outside your local railway station that mumbles on about ‘bastards’, ‘missed opportunities’ and how he is the best thing since sliced white. You are laughing at somebody who should probably seek help. You are a bad person.

The difference between Charlie Sheen and the ‘railway man’ is of course money. Money and fame has taken away any sense of sympathy for Charlie Sheen. The fact that money and fame may have made him mad, ironically doesn’t exactly help Sheen’s cause either. Sheen is not a sympathetic character because he has sex with lots of women whilst high on crack cocaine. The women, drugs and money, which could have accounted for your man outside the railway station for all we know, are an obstacle for us. He’s mad, but he looks like he’s enjoying it.

If money and fame are the reasons behind our amusement at Mr Sheen, then where do we draw the line? Do we sympathise with madness as long as the individual involved earns less than say £23,000 per annum?

Sheen’s stature does of course serve him some real positives. He doesn’t have to steal to get the drugs, and he doesn’t assault women for sex, he pays for it. Sheen’s fame also prevents us from taking him by the arm and dropping him off at the local nut house. Sheen’s madness therefore is nourished and protected by fame and well being exposed by it. We are all privy to his mutterings. It’s out there. And by and large all the reactions to his particular insanity are borne from acute amusement.

Anyone who has had a little ‘moment’ in life, especially when dealing with work, and the paranoia and ego it can create, has talked of destroying rivals in vengeance and has self-inflated the ego in futile attempts to protect it. Just that for most of us, it doesn’t include crack cocaine and porn stars. Is Sheen’s madness any more self-inflicted than any one else’s? A man may buy some lager and sit in the park to gabble at the pigeons, Sheen simply takes up residence with some sex actors and a snooker ball of crack. Essentially, the thinking behind both acts is the same.

If money and fame are the reasons behind our amusement at Mr Sheen, then where do we draw the line? Do we sympathise with madness as long as the individual involved earns less than say £23,000 per annum? Are we only allowed to laugh at an ‘unraveling’ if it’s on breakfast TV. Or is it OK to laugh at anyone regardless of status if they are experiencing an episode? Where is the line? Up Mr Sheen’s snout, one would presume.

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image descriptionCOMMENTS

Jeff Maysh 4:53 pm, 4-Mar-2011

Had to wait to nearly the end for "some sex actors and a snooker ball of crack" but it was worth it.

Phil 8:31 pm, 4-Mar-2011

One of the best written and wry observational pieces I've read in a long time. Absolutely spot on.

kimd 5:48 am, 5-Mar-2011

I never thought I'd say this because I cannot stand the guy,but I'm beginning to feel a little sorry for him.The boy ain't right in the head and desperately needs help.

Drury 4:25 pm, 5-Mar-2011

He does assault women though, and has a documented history of this. Yet another very sad part of his story. He hurts people because he is very wealthy. When he is broke and done he will be on Donald Trump's show or lumped into a house with other sad cases.

kimd 2:18 am, 6-Mar-2011

If he lives that long.I'm no fan by any means but every media outlet is jumping on his schtick and frankly, exploiting him and his illnesses.He himself,makes me cringe.But so do the media leeches.

Rozee 5:36 pm, 6-Mar-2011

He isn't mad. He is purely ego and honesty. If we all said what we really want and what we really think then he wouldn't seem so mental. He is a product of Hollywood, that's all. Seems mental to you but maybe you are just boring, dishonest and have a smaller ego... ;)

Clark Gwent 5:54 pm, 6-Mar-2011

The irony that Charlie Harper on "Two and a Half Men" turns out to be a diluted version of the guy playing him,that has a lot to do with it....has this ever happened before in hist of sitcoms?

ADC 1:59 pm, 28-Mar-2011

A fair piece that needed to be written.

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