We Probably Shouldn't Be Laughing At Charlie Sheen

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?
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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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