Charlie Sheen has enchanted America in recent days with his candid discussion of tiger blood, Adonis DNA, and why it’s a bad idea to pick a fight with a warlock. But not everyone thinks a self-described “bitchin’ rock god from Mars” with a history of drug abuse is in the wrong–or if he is, at least shouldn’t be served up for public consumption by the press.
Now that every single media outlet has seemingly tasted their share of Charlie Sheen exclusives, the cries of “exploitation” are beginning in earnest. Here’s a brief overview of those who are–in some way–defending Sheen’s rants by rationalizing them, wondering if he’s “feigning” instability, and at least one producer who doesn’t know what the fuss is all about since Sheen has been quite “coherent” recently:
Radio Host Alex Jones Speaking with the ladies at The View, the radio interviewer who catalyzed the race to nab the next Sheen exclusive seemed “hellbent” on defending his subject. Citing his “six and half” year friendship with Sheen, Jones made the assertion that “he’s never drunk alochol or used drugs in front of me.” Later on he tried help Sheen out by putting his latest rants in context: “He wasn’t involved in taking down [World Trade Center] building 7 in New York.” Well, when you look at it that way. (Also, this is a good reason to mention that, prior to the latest outrage over whatever it is an outrage over, Sheen and Jones’ liked to discuss how they don’t know who really brought down the World Trade Center.
CNN Producer Jonathan Wald In an interview with Yahoo’s Joe Pompeo, Piers Morgan Tonight producer Jonathan Wald explained that Sheen hasn’t been unhinged in interviews–he’s been “coherent” and “lucid,” never more than when talking to Piers Morgan on CNN. ” I think people confuse an interview with an intervention,” observed Wald. “This was an opportunity for Charlie Sheen to tell his story.” And if that story involves mummies, B-2 bombers, and stories about how tough it was to make Platoon, so be it.
Novelist Walter Kirn (Sort of) In a blog post entitled “The Uses of Charlie Sheen,” the novelist writes that, although Sheen was “authentically unstable” in his first interviews, TV ubiquity has made him “enough of a performer to realize now what the audience expects from him and to deliver it with all his might, meaning he’s now both unstable and feigning unstable.” Kirn also takes the time to consider Charlie Sheen as “As Secret Superhero of the Id.” We won’t unpack that one.
The Rest of the Guilty Media Media columnists are blaming the networks (i.e. themselves) for fanning the flames of the Sheen implosion. “Conflagration makes for better ratings, of course, but that doesn’t mean a news organization should ignore the basic elements of a news presentation,” chides Ad Age’s Brian Steinberg. “We can’t get enough of it, and we act like we are doing something important by pointing a camera at this sorry wreck of an actor and miking him up for more ridiculous and ignorant quotes,” opines Baltimore Sun media critic David Zurawik. “When a drunken fan runs onto the field at a baseball game, all the cameras look away. Why aren’t we doing that now with Charlie Sheen?” wrote an indignant Aaron Barnhart at the Kansas City Star. Poynter’s Julie Moos wonders how long it will be before the spotlight’s “hot burn causes an explosion with collateral damage we’d all regret.” We may already be there.