When I watched Charlie Sheen’s 20/20 interview, I pulled up a Microsoft Word document and started taking notes on specifically how crazy he sounded so that I could describe the experience quickly to people who hadn’t seen the interview yet. Here’s what I came up with:
-Charlie Sheen talks the way I imagine my blog would look if I did cocaine, but when I’m imagining it I’m also doing tequila shots.
-Charlie Sheen talks like his brain has had a really bad day, so it’s masturbating to try and feel better about itself. “God damn it that barista was so mean to me today – good thing the only gear I have is go! I bet that cop who gave me a parking ticket didn’t know that I took more drugs than anyone could survive, and I only survived it because I’m me! You’re damn right I’m different! Yeah!”
-Charlie Sheen talks like he thinks he’s a contender to replace Steve Carell on The Office, and is also crazy.
-Charlie Sheen talks like a shitty actor playing the lead role in a made-for-TV biopic about Robert Downey Jr. in 1997.
But here’s what I think it is, more than any of that: Charlie Sheen is playing Charlie Sheen.
Not that he hasn’t been for a while, mind you – in Platoon he smoked weed through a shotgun, in Major League he played a pitcher who earns a reputation for being a hard living bad boy, and the plot of Two and a Half Men is basically “Charlie Sheen has sex more often than that other guy or his kid.”
But now it looks like Charlie Sheen’s immersion into Charlie Sheen has become so great that he’s pretty much lost himself and become a shapeless caricature of a stereotypical hedonistic lout. Think of it like Black Swan, only with less lesbian oral sex and like 100% more tiger blood.
The best thing that could’ve happened to Charlie Sheen in that 20/20 interview, from a public image standpoint, was for him to test positive on the drug test they gave him. The fact that he wasn’t on drugs when he was saying all those things means that that’s how Charlie Sheen is on a normal day.*
*He’s basically America’s creepy uncle when he’s stone cold sober, and he’s been very blunt and open about the fact that he occasionally does enough drugs to kill a normal human. Hearing that makes me want us to design some sort of Hannibal Lecter style cage that society can put him in whenever he starts ingesting substances that make even normal people act crazy.
But there’s something about his hedonistic persona that seems so forced, like he’s trying to prove something to the world, or maybe himself. He’s like a twelve year old who saw Caligula and is trying to become just like that, but in the most ham-fisted way possible.
“People say it’s lonely at the top,” he says, before sticking his arms out like wings and waggling them back and forth. “But I suuuure like the view!”
If somebody wrote that as a line of dialogue in a screenplay about an egocentric Hollywood douchebag, people would laugh that line off as drawing the character too broadly. But Charlie Sheen doesn’t care. He wants to be that broadly drawn. He wants to drive the point home to the entire world that he’s fucked up and crazy, but he doesn’t have the subtle tact of Winona Ryder.
Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think Charlie Sheen is faking anything and I completely agree with the rest of the world that he’s crazy. Who other than a crazy man spends thousands of dollars on a secret cigar vault hidden behind a cupboard in his gym, only to blow the secrecy of the whole thing by showing it off to a camera crew and talking about what a nifty hiding place it is? Who speaks glowingly of drug use and a hard partying lifestyle, then turns around and demands to have something in his life that isn’t “TMZ’d up the butt”?*
*Charlie Sheen being mad about attracting paparazzi attention for acting like a contemporary Jabba the Hutt is about the same as me complaining about people reading my blog. I mean, seriously – just because I put it up publicly doesn’t mean you’re allowed to look at it, assholes.
But I think that, in addition to the undeniable crazy having an awesome pizza party in his brain, there’s also a very sane, very shrewd sense of public relations ensuring that everything he says and does is as over the top as can be.
I think this because Charlie Sheen is a 45 year old man with expensive tastes who just went from being the most highly paid actor in television to history to one of the most unemployed, which by his own admission in the interview has put him in a bit of a financial crunch. He’s got to pay for the life he’s built for himself, his children, and his ‘goddesses’ somehow, so it’s in his best interests to act full on crazy for the sake of keeping himself in the news and his persona in demand. For a television personality, there’s no bad publicity, but being forgotten is a death sentence.
And hey, I could be wrong. But three days after his 20/20 interview, Charlie Sheen started a Twitter account and got a million followers in roughly a day, setting a new Guinness World Record. If this tells me anything, it’s that 1) The people at Guinness are giving out records for anything these days, and 2) It pays to be crazy.
Truman Capps, due to a highly experimental blood transfusion in the early 90s, actually does have tiger blood.