Opinion: Charlie Sheen's Meltdown Entertains Us All
There's nothing quite like watching a human drama unfold before your very eyes.
Charlie Sheen is a living, breathing tragedy right now, and, thanks to the 24-7 celebrity news cycle, we're able to watch it in real time.
He's on the Howard Stern show, ranting about his employer, CBS, for calling a halt to his hit TV sitcom, "Two and a Half Men."
He's on the "Today Show," telling the world that he's clean and sober, and, when asked how he did it, replying, "I closed my eyes and made it so."
You know what? Maybe he has. He certainly wouldn't be the first celebrity to kick the habit all on his own.
Sheen's public meltdown is replete with porn stars, trashed hotel rooms and hatred-fueled rants about the people who have helped him reach the peak of success from which he has had such a spectacular tumble.
But here's the real rub: We are watching.
We can't turn away.
And the media won't let us.
Do a quick Google search for our pal Charlie and you'll see hundreds of stories scrolling down your screen, under the misnomer of "news." He's sending anti-Semitic text messages. He's tweeting photos of himself holding a bottle of chocolate milk, arm slung around a boobalicious babe. He's declaring, when asked by "Today" about his current drug use, that "drug tests don't lie, the scoreboard doesn't lie."
He's losing his sons, when authorities remove them from his home.
Charlie Sheen is in trouble. And we love it. We're hanging on to every lascivious detail. We're not rooting for him to win his private battle -- we're rooting for him to keep going so we can enjoy every last morsel of his descent into whatever hell he's experiencing.
Because from where I stand, losing your kids after a string of publicly broadcast poor decisions fueled by drugs and alcohol is pretty much what hell must look like from the inside.
What must these tweets, videos and photographs look like to Sheen's loved ones? What does Martin Sheen, himself a recovering alcoholic who has helped his son with substance abuse in the past, think when his son's face looms on his television screen?
Imagine what it feels like when one of your children is hurting. Then, imagine what it would feel like if that pain was broadcast for the world to lap up like a bowl of milk.
What will it look like to his children, when they stumble upon an archive of their father's descent and watch themselves being taken from his care.
It will be so incredibly painful, and no one deserves that.
Substance abuse and the havoc it wreaks on someone's mind, body and actions should be private, no matter who is struggling with it. It is a car wreck on the side of the road, with bloody victims suffering inside the broken vehicle.
Whether we know it or not, we're watching Sheen slowly die in front of our eyes, tweet by tweet, gossip blog by gossip blog.
And we have to ask ourselves: What does that say about us?
It says that all the world is nothing but carrion.
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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.