Okay, I admit it. I'm fascinated by Charlie Sheen's epic meltdown. It's rare to see someone destroy himself so completely and so publicly in so short a time.
In keeping with the rambling, semicoherent nature of Mr. Sheen's own rants, I have some disjointed, unorganized thoughts on this tempest in a tin can.
1. On another thread we've been talking about the ego. Sheen's behavior is a larger-than-life instance of the ego in action -- or in this case, out of control and running amok. I don't believe the delusional grandiosity and aggressive narcissism currently on display represent the ultimate truth about Charlie Sheen. His real self, his deepest self, is not this polluted self-aggrandizing wreck. And just imagine the hell of living eternally if this was the real Charlie. Extinction would be a much kinder fate.
2. Sheen is now threatening to sue CBS and Warner Bros. for $320 million on the grounds that they have unjustifiably deprived him of his livelihood. I'm not a lawyer, but in my layman's opinion this suit doesn't have a chance. For one thing, Sheen has a long track record of erratic and unstable behavior, which no employer can be required to countenance.
Moreover, Sheen agreed to enter rehab and demonstrate sobriety, and has not lived up to that agreement; curing his addictions "in a nanosecond" with his mind is not the same thing as going through a recognized rehabilitation program, and passing a single urine test is not the same thing as being clean and sober. (Update on March 2: I've now read that Sheen's employers had agreed to let him do his rehab at home, rather than in a recognized facility, so this point is not as strong as I'd believed.)
Also -- and this is the kicker -- CBS and Warner Bros. can argue that allowing Sheen to resume work would pose a danger to his coworkers. After all, Sheen is on record as saying that he would like to pummel the show's creator with his "fire-breathing fists," and has challenged him to a cage match, while announcing that he has learned to "love with violence and hate with violence," and that he will "destroy" anyone who threatens his "family" (i.e., his entourage of porn stars, drug dealers, and assorted sycophants). That all this is not just talk is demonstrated by his documented history of violence. He shot his fiancée Kelly Preston in the arm; he reportedly beat up ex-wife Denise Richards; he reportedly beat up girlfriend Brittany Ashland and threatened to kill her; he reportedly beat up ex-wife Brooke Mueller and threatened to kill her; he reportedly choked girlfriend Capri Anderson. It is perfectly plausible to say that his threats should be taken seriously. CBS and Warner Bros. are already laying the groundwork for this defense by announcing that they have beefed up security at the Warners lot and will not let Sheen on the property under any circumstances. This is a sensible precaution, but also a shrewd legal move that will allow them to argue that Sheen represented a real danger to their employees.
3. Sheen, at 45, is five years younger than I am, and looks about 60 in recent interviews. How's that "total bitchin' rock star from Mars" lifestyle working out for ya?
4. Sheen is worth -- or should be worth -- an estimated $85 million, most of which he earned in the last eight years. Yet he implies that he is nearly broke and has a desperate need for new infusions of cash. As someone on the Internet quipped, "Hiring porn stars instead of financial planners was a smart move."
5. Is it possible that Sheen has been bipolar all along, and was using drugs and alcohol to self-medicate? Or is his current manic behavior some kind of withdrawal reaction? Or have years of substance abuse simply fried his brain?
6. For a textbook example of a sycophantic enabler, look no further than the reprehensible Alex Jones, the radio interviewer who egged Sheen on, laughed at his inane jokes, praised him to the skies, and even compared him (for no conceivable reason) to Thomas Jefferson. Sheen is just a sad, sick man currently circling the drain; Jones is despicable.
7. I thought Two and a Half Men was funny in its early years, when it appeared that Sheen was doing an over-the-top parody of his pre-reformed self. For me, most of the humor went out of his character when I realized he was doing a considerably toned-down version of his contemporary self. I did still watch the show sometimes, though not regularly. Much of last season involved the Sheen character courting a beautiful and shockingly normal woman named Chelsea. I knew the show had lost my allegiance when I found myself actively rooting for Chelsea to run away from Sheen as fast as possible. I no longer found his character rakishly charming; I just thought he was sick, foul, and pitiable -- much like good-time Charlie himself.