Monday, April 4, 2011

Life Lessons from Charlie Sheen

So, how ‘bout that violent torpedo of jeers, eh Charlie? According to the TOP HEADLINES section of my ISP’s welcome page, nothing happened in the world this weekend except for Charlie Sheen taking a dive in his first live show. I’d spend a paragraph decrying what this says about our priorities and standards as a culture if I weren’t about to dive in and enter this entertaining fray myself. When it comes to the decline and fall, never let it be said that I'm not a willing participant.

The Cliff’s Notes version: Charlie took the stage in Detroit. He trotted out his “goddesses”. He ranted and raved like a lunatic. He showed video montages that no one in their right mind would be interested in. He mentioned that Detroit makes him think of crack, and regaled the audience with tales of a few of his more memorable dates with that drug. He ended the gig – now in front of a substantially emptied house – with a Snoop Dogg video. In some ways, that may be the least nonsensical thing about all of this: when something has no reason to exist at all, what better way to end it than with a complete non-sequitur?

The audience was not amused. Every news report available hammers home the image of the emptying theater, the chants of “REFUND!”, and the story of the woman who started stomping around the venue shouting “I want my money back!”. All great fun, I grant you, but it does leave me with a question: why? What, exactly, did these people expect that they feel Sheen didn’t deliver?

They paid to see him act like a raving lunatic, up close, live and personal. By all accounts, he did exactly that. They paid to see a volatile personality act unpredictably, and from every available report they got it. I’m certain that some of them likely paid to see if he’d overdose right there in front of them. He did not do that, of course, but then that’s hardly something guaranteed; it’s more like hoping your number comes up on a Roulette wheel. I just don’t see where a refund is in order. You’ve all heard the expression you pays your money and you takes your chances at some point, right? I doubt it’s ever been more apropos.

This is where the lesson part comes in. Sheen hit one thing right on the head in the course of his violent torpedo of seventy minutes of Detroit’s time. Quoting directly from the Associated Press write-up: "after one audience member booed, Sheen sanguinely replied, 'I've already got your money, dude.'" Sheen may arguably be an arrogant jerk for putting it so bluntly, but he is 100% correct about this. As the auteur of a different circus is often credited with saying, “there’s a sucker born every minute", to which I'd add "and a Sheen to take his money."

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