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The Media and Charlie Sheen

March 7, 2011

If you haven’t noticed, everyone’s talking about Charlie Sheen.  It seems the media wants to destroy the man, and I find that bizarre.  I just finished reading an excellent article entitled The Cannibalization of Charlie Sheen, by Anthony Gregory.  The author brings out some important points, and I wanted to share them with all of you.

Indeed, the main mystery is why so many entertainers have jumped on the bandwagon to belittle the actor. Why are so many glitterati pointing their fingers and laughing, judging, and psychoanalyzing Sheen from afar? And even if it was kind of funny the first time to compare his eccentric quips to the ranting of the dictator Qadafi, isn’t it a bit unseemly for so many to be piling on with such insults?

A look at the supposed reasons why Sheen has deserved such ridicule and voyeuristic attention can help dispel a number of myths about the media, the press and the dominant national culture. Specifically, we now see the “socially liberal” media is not quite how it’s normally understood.

If we lived in a reasonable society, the most serious accusation would be that Sheen has assaulted women, which he denies. But this has not been the focus of the attacks on Sheen. It should probably be the only charge that comes close to rising to the level of news. But according to today’s zeitgeist, his other alleged sins are far more severe.

Consider the endless fascination with Sheen’s drug use. The media are in many ways pro-drug. Rock music and most popular music, going back to jazz, has been shameless in the glorification of narcotics, stimulants and hallucinogens. Comedies on networks and cable give a wink to casual drug use, or even outright encourage it. We’ve had three presidents in a row who admitted to having used marijuana, and almost no one in even the “serious” press condemns this outright.

Yet Sheen’s alleged abuse of drugs is now everybody’s business. Not only do the new-born Puritans in his profession point to these supposedly unique personal failings; TV quacks diagnose his “addiction” from a distance, just so the whole nation can prove their allegiance to the therapeutic state by shaking their heads at the shame of it all.

One such comedy would be Pineapple Express, starring Seth Rogen.  In Seth’s own words, it is a “weed action movie.”

Seth is almost universally loved, yet he doesn’t even try to hide his drug use.  When I’m in the supermarket checking out, I’ve seen him on magazine covers many times.

I even just recently saw Conan O’Brien visiting DC Comics, and they drew him up an action hero.  It’s hilarious.  But look at the belt buckle.  It’s a marijuana leaf.

 

I don’t smoke weed and never have, but studies have shown that it’s less harmful than alcohol.  But maybe that’s the thing.  Maybe Charlie Sheen is doing harder drugs like cocaine, whereas marijuana is considered ok.  I find it difficult to understand the media and our society’s rules.

The hypocrisy is even more shameless on the question of Sheen’s sex life. Everyone in the media believes in sexual tolerance, surely. Marriage need not be between a man and a woman. It can be between two men, or two women. Yet the fact that Sheen wants to “marry” two consenting women – a practice common in many societies for millennia – means there must be something wrong with him, something that makes him especially freakish. People should be allowed to do what they want in their own homes – that is unless we are talking about a weirdo, a megalomaniac, a man who has fallen out of favor with the mainstream.

And I grow tired of all the political correctness.  They’ve tried to label Sheen as an anti-semite.  Just if you guys didn’t know,  Sheen himself Jewish.

To add to the perfect storm, the TV star has violated one of the greatest doctrines of political incorrectness. Although Sheen himself is Jewish, he has committed the grave sin of involuntary anti-Semitism. This piece in the Telegraph, drawing a bizarre link between Sheen, the Pope and Julian Assange, describes the key allegation as “Charlie Sheen’s renaming of the producer of his former sitcom Chuck Lorre as ‘Chaim Levine’, carrying with it as it does two suggestions: one, that Jews are the controlling forces behind the US media, and two, that they have disguised this fact about themselves and need to be outed.”

Political correctness is probably the mass media’s most tangled web of double standards. Making fun of some groups is always more OK than other groups. Hollywood has always jumped on board with ugly nationalist racism when directed against an enemy of war; it has always been willing to make fun of helpless and harmless religious minorities, unprotected ethnic and immigrant groups and people with some disabilities and diseases (but not others); and the old, the ugly and the fat are generally fair game. Hollywood will even make fun of blacks, Jews, gays and other official victim groups, but only in certain contexts, and the rules always shift and are somewhat unpredictable. And if the wrong entertainer slips up in an interview or even off camera, there will be hell to pay, even if what was said was objectively no more demonstrably hateful or mean-spirited than prime time TV during sweeps week.

Moreover, as much as the liberal media love to claim openness toward questioning authority, some political positions are just considered too beyond the pale to tolerate. Sheen has wandered too far into embracing “conspiracy theories” and so the guy is not defensible. His views are not within the respectable range of opinion, like the belief that it’s fine for the U.S. government to invade and occupy foreign countries, detain suspects without trial, and run up trillions of dollars of debt like it was nothing.

I think Anthony Gregory is right.  Take this next video for instance. Americans seem fine with ridiculing our enemies of war. Nobody seems bothered by skits like this.

Also, religious groups are insulted all the time, yet there doesn’t seem to be much, if any media outrage. Take these next clips for instance.

If you’re religious, a Christian especially, I can see why you’d find these sorts of clips offensive. Here we see Jesus defecating on our former president, the God of the universe portrayed as a small reptile, and Jesus slowly dying as He suffocates in his own blood. Family guy does this same sort of thing, insulting monotheists and Christians alike. If you just sit and think about it for a moment, these things are a lot worse than anything Charlie Sheen said yet nobody cares.

Chuck isn’t completely innocent in this either.  He was insulting and prodding Charlie.  Take this vanity card, which aired on national television after their last episode of Two and a Half Men.

There’s a lot of hypocrisy and double standards in the media. To say the least, they’re not very consistent with their values. Regardless of what you may think of Charlie Sheen’s lifestyle and behavior, it doesn’t warrant even half of the coverage it’s received. Let’s leave people alone and mind our own business.

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