Blogging with the Stars, Day 158: Charlie Horse

March 7th, 2011

Okay, I promised myself I wouldn’t do this, but . . .

Very sad to see Charlie Sheen continue his slow-mo suicide on Internet TV last night.

The solo camera (webcam?)was  shooting up at him from underneath, exactly the same angle used to emphasize Kurtz’s craziness in “Apocalypse Now,” which is of course the film that nearly killed his father.  It was almost enough to make me wonder whether he was tipping us a wink: I’m not really crazy, I’m just drawn this way.

But then he began to talk.

No one who listened for more than ten minutes could doubt that this man is in a lot of pain and that virtually all of it is self-inflicted.  It’s the worst possible combination: success beyond the value of his talent, wealth, power (at least over a sitcom), and exactly the wrong drugs.  Drugs that are all about the person who takes them, all about control, all about icy exhilaration.  Drugs that take someone who’s already isolated and put him in a room full of himself: himself sitting everywhere, laughing at his jokes, agreeing with him.  Anyone who is insufficiently himself is banned from the room.

That obviously includes anyone who might love him enough to challenge him.  The “goddess” who wandered in last night to tell him his dog had died — to virtually no emotional reaction from Charlie — seems like a nice enough girl, but you wonder how long she’d outlast his money and fame. And there’s no way she’s going to speak up before she goes.

If Sheen’s going to take drugs, he should take a big, fat, ultra-powerful psychedelic that would shred his ego and reassemble it as a Slinky for about eight hours, followed by a couple of months of trying to put himself back together. He might accidentally leave out some of the shit.

The Japanese are very fond of something they call the Collector Shell.  It’s the life work of a small and exceptionally paranoid crab.  The crab moves into a vacant shell and scoots around the seafloor finding other empty shells and shell fragments.  It sticks then all over the outside of its first shell, trying to create something that’s too big, too hard, and too spiky for anything to eat. Some of them end up with assemblages that are beautiful in a schizoid kind of way.

Problem is, that makes them collectible.  A diver brings them up, the crab dies, and the shell assembly gets sold for a lot of money.  People look at it and admire it.  There’s nothing left inside any more, but the people who admire it don’t care.

The people who pay money for it don’t care.

Makes me wonder how long the shell collection called Charlie Sheen will creak along after the Charlie at its center is dead.

12 Responses to “Blogging with the Stars, Day 158: Charlie Horse”

  1. Beth Says:

    Charlie is the product of his background, good and bad. As everyone no doubt knows, his father is half- Irish and half- Spanish. He adopted a non-ethnic working name but has never changed it legally. No doubt his father realized very early in the sixties, when he was starting out, that actors with Hispanic sounding names weren’t going to get too far. That he is not Hispanic but is Spanish wouldn’t have mattered much.

    So Charlie grows up with a famous father known by a name that is not his own. What Charlie has known all his life is his father’s public commitment to Catholicism and his strong commitment to the causes espoused by Catholic activism. Both are admirable in the father and very likely guilt-inducing in the son. Martin Sheen has won awards from Notre Dame and Marquette for his commitment to social justice.

    I know other groups have claimed the primacy of their particular guilt but Catholicism demands guilt because it isn’t possible to be good enough. Luther introduced the belief that people could be saved by faith alone. For Catholics, salvation requires faith and good works. Who ever can claim they have enough of either? If Charlie can’t live up to his father’s code, and this is likely Charlie’s take rather than Martin’s, then he must go as far in the opposite direction as he can go.

    Alcohol is too common a vice to be considered interesting and dangerous, so Charlie did drugs which really put him outside the pale. He has made himself everything his parents taught him not to be.

    I have never watched his show but I know he has outdone his father in name recognition and income. But his father, in 1977, did “The Execution of Private Slovak” so Martin wins.

    Charlie is the net result of too much money, a massive load of guilt for not being who he thinks he should be, and a cannibalistic public who like to feed on the biggest body on the ground. In the world of network TV, Charlie is a very big body and his slow-motion self-destruction is filling the troughs of the greedy who see Charlie Sheen as a money machine. His show will live in syndication forever, piling more and more money into the coffers of the people who long ago lost sight of the man behind the mounds of money he was earning for them.

  2. Tom Logan Says:

    Tim, I read what you write because you are usually dead on. Not that I always agree with you. And, I am tired of Charlie Sheen and what’s her name of the purloined necklace. No useful news today when it leads with the latest from Hollywood. Thanks for the discussion; I’ll look for more interesting responses on this one.

  3. Lil Gluckstern Says:

    This is really a family tragedy, and the saddest thing is that this has been going on for so long.
    A lot of people have been writing about the enablers who got rich with this man, and still live off him. Beth’s assessment sounds right on; I only know about Jewish guilt, but I do think that Martin Sheen would be a tough act to follow. It isn’t the fame quotient; it’s the quality and seriousness that matters. What a painful metaphor, Tim, and it’s always sad when there are children involved. Now I have to go to work, and then read a book for review;-)

  4. Laren Bright Says:

    Too soon, most likely, we will read that Hollywood has lost its Sheen.

  5. Sylvia Says:

    I always thought Emilio Estevez seemed like the sane one in that family.

  6. Sylvia Says:

    Sorry to post twice in a row but someone just sent me this and it’s suprisingly catchy:

    YouTube – Winning – a Song by Charlie Sheen

  7. Robb Royer Says:

    God, Sylvia, Great call. That Charlie Sheen song is the best thing I’ve heard in years.

  8. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Beth, that’s very thoughtful. If those are the primary reasons for Charlie’s acting out, though, I’d expect to have seen more evidence of it in Emilio, who seems to be relatively sane. Charlie was a handful from the beginning: Munyin tells me he was kicked out of high school and has had substance abuse problems through most of his career. So I’d propose (he says pontifically) that part of it is the upbringing and the guilt and part of it is just who Charlie is, because I do believe that we’re all born with certain switches in the “on” position and that we interpret and react to the world partly depending on which switches are on and off; and finally, (a)the nature of stardom and Hollywood power, which takes a perfectly ordinary person and turns him/her (hir?) into a demigod and (b) exactly the wrong drugs. Exactly precisely the wrong drugs, foremost among them cocaine in its various guises and, worst of all, crack. He just seems totally lost now.

    Hi, Tom — I really wasn’t going to write about Sheen at all, but then I saw last night’s pathetic “show” on Ustream, and it was just heartbreaking. He’s on the phone with some sycophant, and the more outrageous he gets — the more he needs someone to say, “Charlie, you need help,” the more the guy on the other end of the line goes, “Heh, heh, heh. Great, Charlie.” Poor sonofabitch. I know he created this, but he’s getting a lot of help keeping it rolling. And also, I think I’m the only one to suggest he’s using the wrong drugs. And actually, I withdraw that because I don’t think he could survive a psychedelic insight. He’s moved so much of himself into that suit of armor I don’t know what would happen if it got blown apart.

    Lil, it is a family tragedy, and one of the things people have been asking is, “Where’s Poppa?” Charlie was asked by someone whether he’d heard from his father lately, and he said, “I think he’s out of the country.” That’s a flabbergasting remark considering the ubiquity of the telephone for the past 70 years or so. Of course, we have to consider the source — he may simply be blowing his father off. It’s hard for me to believe that NO ONE is actually trying to help him.

    Laren, you’re probably right. It’s hard to see this ending happily, especially when you see him unfiltered on Ustream. He’s in a spiral.

    Sylvia, this is a brilliant video. Amazing stuff.

  9. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Hi, Robb, and I agree. This kind of creativity is brand-new, making use of new tools and a previously nonexistent global delivery system. This one is wonderful.

  10. Beth Says:

    At the beginning of this mess, Martin Sheen was confronted by the press who wanted to know what he was doing for Charlie. In an answer reflective of who he is, Sheen responded that they were doing the only thing they could do – they were praying for their son/brother and he asked that the people who were feeding off this sad story to pray for Charlie, too.

    Charlie didn’t like his father saying that he needed Divine intervention so the father got a call from the son.

    I understand them going to a place like Malta where their son’s disintegration isn’t going to be running 24/7. This is only going to end well if there is Divine intervention.

    As to the differences in children raised in the same families, there is an old joke about South Boston, an Irish enclave. In a family of three sons, one will be a cop, one will be a priest, and one will be a bank robber.

  11. Larissa Says:

    I don’t know if I disagree with you on the “wrong drugs” thing. I think we get the boy some mushrooms and explode his brain in a whole new way. Now, granted, it’d be culture shock to realize that someone outside of himself exists for some other reason than to stroke his ego or hand him money or drugs or women, but in all seriousness-there should be a way to pry his brain open a bit at the edges and let some daylight back in…

    Maybe not. I haven’t seen any of the press or videos of him lately. I should go watch those and see what I think after that.

    ReCaptcha: The Warcer

  12. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Beth — As an Irishman I should have heard the line about the Irish family but I hadn’t. It’s great. (In my family, one of us is a pastor who also writes children’s books; one of us is a painter who has an enviably steady moral view of the universe (sort of coplike, but less simple), and one of us imagines crimes for a living. Hmmm.

    Riss, don’t watch the videos. They’re corrosive.

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