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Marion On March - 13 - 2011

Sometimes, living abroad has its advantages, even in the age of the Internet.

For example, I’m probably the only American in the world who doesn’t know exactly what’s been happening with Charlie Sheen. I haven’t a clue, and I suppose he doesn’t either; but whilst I caught rumblings in the background and tabloidesque headlines here and there on various internet sites, I truly don’t know what all the fuss is about and – quite frankly – I don’t care.

Here’s what I do know about Charlie Sheen:-

– He’s Martin Sheen’s son. I’ve always liked Martin Sheen.

– He’s Emilio Estevez’s brother.

– He starred in Platoon back before Oliver Stone was Oliver Stone and did a good job.

– He starred in Wall Street with Michael Douglas and did a good job.

– Now he’s on Two and a Half Men, which is shown here in the UK on an obscure channel at an obscure hour, and no one watches it enough to talk about it.

And that’s all I know about him, except he seems to have gone off the rails a bit, or at least enough to make the 24/7 guys obsess about him ad nauseam. He seems to have given various and sundry interviews to various and sundry talking heads on various and sundry morning programs and said unusual things.

I haven’t paid attention to the obsessing because it doesn’t interest me. Sheen’s got a problem of sorts – either emotional or psychological – and that’s his business. If he wants the public to know about it, that’s his business too; but I think it’s kind of creepy the way the media seem to have taken up residence on this subject, from all angles. Last week, Lawrence O’Donnell even spent twenty minutes of his MSNBC program evaluating the Sheen phenomenon as though it were a controversial and recently announded political principle. I know O’Donnell’s show is going through adjustment problems in the wake of KO’s departure, but it really is beneath the intellectual calibre of someone like Lawrence O’Donnell to rake over the coals of another man’s emotional breakdown on what is supposed to be a political analysis program. That’s political, not psychological.

You know, fifty years ago, if something like this happened to a leading television actor, he would have retreated behind his gated home, and his publicist and the network for which he worked would have reported him to have been suffering from exhaustion or something of the sort. Three hundred years ago, inmates in local insane asylums were hung outside windows in cages in order that passersby might be entertained. Today, we watch people like Charlie Sheen break down and do and say silly things on television, being interviewed by network newspeople.

I know the news media obsessed in the extreme two years ago at the sudden death of Michael Jackson, but Jackson was a star of international repute and consequence. He was relatively young, and his death was sudden. He’d been a driving force in popular music. Still, the attention and obsession lavished on him were too much.

Then, there was balloon boy.

What’s peculiar about the Sheen situation is that it’s being used so much on so many overtly political programs as a valid topic of discussion, I can’t help but wonder why it’s being discussed instead of something else. And it is almost as though it’s being used as a smokescreen in order to avoid discussion of something more controversial.

Sheen’s dominated headlines on various programs whilst public sector workers have had their collective bargaining rights wiped off the slate in Wisconsin. Libya’s boiling over, while the media obsesses about Charlie Sheen. There’ve been earthquakes in New Zealand and now Japan, the latter worse than the former. And Congress have sat around whining and whingeing and doing nothing of what they’re supposed to be doing.

I use Bill Maher‘s Real Time to gauge a lot of what’s going on in the political spectrum. For two weeks now, the main topic of discussion on Real Time, entering a mention into every conversation, has been Charlie Sheen. This past week, Bill even managed to make an analogy of Sheen to Sarah Palin.

What I really want to know is simply what’s being hidden behind the Sheen smokescreen, and why has it been constructed? My guess would be that it’s yet another diversion for a public, both Right and Left, who are totally devoid of the ability to think critically. So when the media finally decide to let go of Charlie Sheen and allow him to deal with his many problems in the privacy he deserves, both sides will be able to turn, yet again, to the Obama-baiting they love so dearly, guided by the media talking heads they trust so much.

Categories: News & Politics, The Media, TV

25 Responses so far.

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  1. It keeps the masses entertained, so they can fantasize about being better people than him WHEN (not IF) they become rich and famous.

  2. PatsyT says:

    I had a serious conversation with my hubby last week and I asked-
    ~How much do you want to bet, Sheen is being paid by someone in the RW
    to go postal and flip out on the air so it can be the lead, middle and wrap-up story
    in the MSM? After all he is out of work and he is an actor.~
    Ah but look now, Charlie gets a break with the disaster in Japan.
    Now he can go shopping for a new machete or maybe look into chain saws.
    We haven’t seen, the end of Sheen.

  3. ADONAI says:

    Don’t listen to these assholes Charlie! I love ya! They just don’t get it. They can’t process you with a normal brain!


  4. Khirad says:

    2009 -- Iranian uprising coverage quashed by Michael Jackson. Not even two minutes could be spared from the riveting shot of the hospital and time filler.

    2010 -- I can’t quite remember when we lost interest in Haiti, but I’m guessing it was something as banal. It’s not like they ever get knocked off for something more important.

    2011 -- Lawrence O’Donnell spends 20 minutes dissecting Sheen’s addiction (he has a disease). Libya put on the backburner. Yemen a distraction, Bahrain completely ignored.

    Japan, take heed. I hear Lindsey Lohan is having problems again. An OD and you’d be completely sidelined even if you had four nuclear meltdowns. We obsess over Hollywood meltdowns — and care more about what Kate Middleton wore recently (why we Yanks care about the royals will always befuddle me even more) than opposition leaders in Iran being put under house arrest.

    Of course, I set the bar pretty high. It’s hard to rouse interest even in things domestic, like the Wisconsin saga.

    • PocketWatch says:

      Khirad -- I don’t know who first coined the word “infotainment,” but that’s what we have.

      The only thing that matters in the short OR long run is eyeballs on the screen so that people are exposed to the commercials. ‘Follow the money.’ All material on TV is designed to keep you watching until the next commercial airs. Anyone that thinks that’s not true is a fool, IMO. NOTHING is aired for the sake of airing it or informing anyone of anything. If it’s boring, it’ll never get on.

      When viewed in that context, it’s easy to see how important stuff gets sidelined. Actual information is boring, unless it has explosions and floods and smoke and all that along with it. Policy decisions with charts and graphs? Fuggeddaboudit!

      • Khirad says:

        Well, violence sells, so why is Bahrain ignored?

        Yesterday, as posted in my ME blog, just ONE of those videos:

        Let’s LOL about that. Stupid Bahrainis on their little island whose king we protect, no one cares about your fight for justice.

        We have Charley Sheen.

        • Chernynkaya says:

          Khirad -from the Pew Center on Journalism:


          • Khirad says:

            God, and to think Tunisia got less than Bahrain.

            But of course it did. It only got attention AFTER the fact!

            So, hurry it up Bahrainis, will you?

            We get bored easily.

            And I’m literally getting furious about it.

            Saudis rolling into Bahrain?

            Deaths in Yemen?

            Who cares.

            Fuck them.

      • Abbyrose86 says:

        @PW…exactly…it’s all about what “sells”…sigh.

  5. choicelady says:

    Ok -- am I the ONLY person who cannot pronounce “Feh!” properly? How very limited of me. Sigh.

    Marion -- I do believe you’ve nailed this. This is the focus of too many people’s attention, as all media stories about the rich and famous tend to be. We are intended to be draw away -- “NO! No! don’t look over THERE -- look over HERE! Yes HERE -- now, right NOW! (Psst Walker -- hurry it up, I can’t keep ’em turned away much longer -- oh wait a NEW gory story just popped up. Whew!)

    It’s particularly painful with Charlie because his father has been one person that FORCED people to watch real political pains and exploitations. Charlie is turning out to be not his Dad either on screen or off, but his own character in “Wall Street” -- narcissistic, driven mad by who-know-what-obsessions, and utterly without concern for the consequences of injustice. In fact he thinks HE is the focus of injustice. Nope, Charlie -- it’s your own chickens, home to roost.

    Why do we care? I may be the only former teen who never had an idol. Not even the Beatles, never Elvis, nobody. Got a mild crush on Theo Bikel, but even I, a shiksa with NO talent, knew how illogical THAT was, and it did not last.

    It’s not that I don’t like entertainers. It’s that I know they are not real people. Not that they are NOT, but that what we know of them is not real. You want people to admire, to emulate? Here’s my short list. I’m sure you have your own:

    My father for courage under the scourge of 60 years of Parkinsons who used his professional position to promote civil rights and union rights in Chicago. Tom Pomeroy, president of the Buffalo IAM Eastern Airlines local who died in 1992. Bill Hamilton, president of the Buffalo IAM US Airline local who understood derivatives and their pernicious power ages before anyone else. David Collins, former Buffalo City Council member and civil rights worker in the 1950s who fled Alabama with the KKK on his trail, joined the UAW and became one of the people who got Rev. Leon Sullivan on the GM Board. Rev. Leon Sullivan who didn’t know me even though I lived next door to his church in Philly -- he set the “Sullivan accords” regulating how US companies did business with South Africa that ENDED apartheid. Richard Trumpka, now president of the AFL-CIO who as president of the United Mine Workers told Pittston Coal and the state of West VA to go ahead and fine the UMW $1 million per day -- they were NOT ending the strike until the UMW won. Judi Bari, Earth First founder whose van was bombed, then was accused of planting it on herself, died of cancer and finally was vindicated and the FBI found complicit. The women of Women’s Health Specialists, a CA feminist women’s clinic group that has been fire-bombed more than once and kept the clinics open and the commitment to women rolling. Emily Lyons, RN who was blown up in a clinic bombing by Eric Rudolph and keeps laughing even though her body is still riddled with nails. My friend who shall remain nameless living in hiding because she infiltrated white supremacy and Christian Identity groups to expose their criminal conduct. David Joseph Krupka, a Chicago-area cop with the best values and warmest heart I ever knew who fought hate crimes and racism his whole life, and died last year of cancer. The women of LIFETIME who lead women from welfare to work and won’t be treated like second class citizens EVER and who promote worker ownership as a critical link to the way out. The people of the Applied Research Center who live and work for racial equity and for whom racial inclusion is EVERONE and who love to laugh and provide great food. Rev. David Thompson, hounded out of his church because he, a straight man, worked tirelessly for LGBT rights and still does. Most Rev. Gene Robinson, bishop of New Hampshire, firstly openly gay Episcopal priest who was elevated wearing a bullet proof vest and who, in the face of hate so grim toward him, still has a puckish and insatiable sense of humor.

    And the five people I’ve known who have been gunned down or blown up by RW extremists, people who did make headlines briefly but who are overshadowed by Charlie and his antics, they gave their lives for justice.

    There are others, MANY others, good people all, including the folks here at the Planet who are the real game changers of the world. Why then, do we keep paying attention in the media to people (The Donald fer cryin’ out loud) who are vulgar and DUMB?

    Charlie Sheen can’t hold a candle to any of the people I’ve known who have moved the world forward for the better. So I’m paying almost NO attention to him, his raves, his mania. I wish his family well -- they are in pain over his disintegration -- but for Charlie? He’s not news.

    The people of Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan and everywhere around the country who stand up for justice and refuse to be cowed by corporate power? They are the news. They and we ARE the leaders we’ve been waiting for.

    • Artist50 says:

      CL -- I admire your fire and passion. I’d be proud just to stand next to you soapbox! The sad thing is that probably more people in America know what’s going on in Charley’s life than in Wisconsin and they certainly care more. That’s why we get the damn government we deserve and I’m 60 yrs old I don’t know how to change that because it seems like our media is making it worse.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      C’Lady-- next time we meet, I gonna make you say it! 😆 I bet you get it just right. If Buddy McCue--who has Southern roots-- can say it (and God love him) then I anyone can!

      “Feh!” with Allan Merovitz

    • Abbyrose86 says:

      @ChoiceLady…you weren’t the only teen who had no interests in Hollywood movie stars or music icons. I was one of those weird teenagers, too. Not a single poster in MY bedroom. I will admit to having a little crush on John Kennedy Jr., but part of that was because I admired Jackie O and well, he was rather hot to look at…but my fascination with HIM had more to do with my fascination with the political scene surrounding him.

      Entertainers have always bored me to tears…especially actors. HELLO, what is acting, but effectively PRETENDING to be something or someone OTHER than what you are…I mean yes it is an art form of sorts…but it also can be something a little more sinister.

      A good actor probably is a good liar, too.

      As to their personal lives…who cares. I certainly don’t and wish the whole tabloid, gossip mongering would just go away already.

      I don’t need to know ANYTHING about these people…seriously. Until one of them, is paying my mortgage, I just can’t be bothered! :)

      • choicelady says:

        And fat chance they’ll pay your mortgage! They can’t be bothered.

        Good on you Abby -- entertainers are FUN, but that’s it. Some use their resources well. Most don’t. Charlie never inherited his Dad’s “good” gene, and consequently, he is inconsequential.

        The bored and disaffected might be less so if they gave a second’s though to someone other than themselves. You don’t have to self medicate IF there is some child hugging your knees whom you’ve saved from starvation, slavery, abuse, poverty. You don’t have to stoke up to get up in the morning if you have something to accomplish other than pretending on the silver screen. I do admire people such as Angeline Jolie who have used their celebrity in the service of world improvement. I have little to NO use for people who use it to consume more, abuse themselves more, ignore people more.


    • Questinia says:

      Charlie Sheen is an alpha wave rinse for those who need to keep their hair-thin intellects shiny and manageable.

      For all the celebrities who have had to go to rehab to suffer the relative indignities, Sheen does not go gently into that night. Consequently, he is the cynosure du jour. We get to feel all close to Charlie. He’s inviting us into his living room. We know now what a star is like who is in a top-rated program. He’s fairly normal in the Jerry Springer-sense but we know his pedigree is half-way decent so we wonder.

      He’s boring for someone with drug-induced hypomania. But hypomania can be inherently interesting because it moves along…

    • PatsyT says:

      Standing ovation dear lady!

      • choicelady says:

        Thank you, Patsy -- you’re one of the great people I’m honored to know. Charlie should be so lucky as to know you!

        I want to shake him like a rag doll and say, “LOOK! At least HALF of reality is NOT about YOU.” But he has no sense of others as equals, and that’s where his own pain begins. Sigh.

  6. KillgoreTrout says:

    Todays media has become a real problem. A serious problem. The “press,” used to be our last defense against tyranny. Now it promotes tyranny and is offensive to the true purpose of the press/media.
    It is no longer a guardian of democratic ideals and principles. Instead, it has become a tool to further enslave the American people to corporations and the insanity of the religious right.
    The lack of reporting in Wisconsin is a perfect example. And there are even those that just willingly misrepresent the facts about the protests in Wisconsin and other states. We need to wage war against our corrupt media as we do against those that want to make America a fascist nation.

  7. whatsthatsound says:

    Very nice article; much agree.
    These are the lyrics to “Trapped in a Box”, by No Doubt. I think they are a spot-on commentary about this type of media hype/distraction we see happening with Sheen

    Trapped in a box of tremendous size
    It distorts my vision, it closes my eyes
    Attracts filthy flies and pollutes in the skies
    It sucks up our lives and proliferates lies
    Trapped in a box
    Trapped in a box, four walls as sky
    Got a screen for a window about two feet wide
    My mind rides and slides as my circuits are
    No room for thought, use the box as my guide
    Trapped in a box

    Ooh trapped in a box
    Watch the world as it flocks
    To life’s paradox
    And we’re all trapped in a box

    Oh trapped in a box I’m not alone
    I know of others with a box as their home
    Light only enters from a crack or a hole
    Oh this is not enough for a human to grow
    Trapped in a box

    Ooh trapped in a box
    Watch the world as it flocks
    To life’s paradox
    And we’re all trapped in a box

    Always wanting a different view
    Instant gratification for you
    Reality gone with a single click
    Just hope that that switch won’t stick

    Ah trapped in a box my life becomes void
    And all of the thought for myself’s now
    Controlling my mind, what to eat, what to buy
    Subliminal rules: how to live, how to die
    Trapped in a box

    Ooh trapped in a box
    Watch the, the world as it flocks
    To life’s paradox
    And we’re all, we’re trapped in a box
    Ooh trapped in a box
    Watch the world as it flocks
    To life’s paradox
    We’re all trapped in a box

    Ooh ooh ooh ooh
    Ooh ooh ooh ooh
    Ooh ooh ooh ooh
    We’re all trapped in a box

  8. BigDogMom says:

    Charlie is the Wisconsin uprising smokescreen…something that the media and the corporate world wants us to ignore…

  9. Buddy McCue says:

    You know what I heard about Charlie Sheen the other day?

    Absolutely nothing, that’s what. I’ve been avoiding this “news story” like the plague. “Feh,” that’s what I say.

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