Sunday, April 3, 2011

Charlie Sheen: Ego on the Loose

I've talked about Charlie Sheen once or twice in this venue already.  The man is, in short, low-hanging fruit.  Or is that "fruitcake?"  Whatever.

On top of everything else he's done, grant interviews on the most mundane of subjects, talk about his past substance abuse episodes, describe the assorted women in his life in less-than-generous terms (unless she's a stripper or nude model, then she's a "goddess"), Charlie somehow got a tour organized.

Now, first question you might ask would be, "what kind of tour?"  That's the question I asked myself.  What kind of crowd would Charlie attract?

Let's break this down.  Charlie is an actor.  While there are a great many highly intelligent actors out there, your first takeaway of an actor is that he has to have a certain venue in which to deliver, rehearsals, a script, perhaps.  The Rock Star From Mars doesn't have a well-developed plan for what he's going to show his fans on his so-called "Violent Torpedo of Truth" tour.  At least, that was my first impression and judging by initial reactions from his first tour date, I was right.

Why would anyone buy a ticket to this show?  That's easy: in his highly public falling out with Warner Bros. and Chuck Lorre and apparently everyone else, Sheen has been kind of fun to watch.  But it's fun the way certain online videos are fun - some of those car crashes are pretty entertaining.  That one of the cars all slip-sliding through that icy intersection in Seattle?  I love that, it's amazing.  Chances are pretty good no one was seriously hurt, it all moves pretty slowly.  But at the same time, you know it's a disaster.  Those people in the cars are trapped, out of control, frightened.  So I like to watch it, but I feel bad a little inside, too.

And now, blithely plummeting down the icy hill of reality we have Charlie Sheen.  His stereo is on as loud as it'll go.  If his transmission has a gear marked "Sideways," that's the one he's in.  The convertible top is down.  He's actually smarter than he looks: he's bungee'd animals all over the outside of his car to protect it from minor impacts.  And for that inestimable effect, he's set his hair on fire.  Charlie is entering the intersection.  What will happen next?  You'll have to watch to find out.

In his string of interviews and press releases, Charlie set a tone for what his fans expect.  Irreverence, ego running loose, and an unending string of whacky quotes.  But in the tour, a slightly cooler head has had to do a little planning.  Charlie off the cuff is a lit fuse running into an unmarked box - you have no idea what might happen.  Charlie trying to produce on a schedule is another thing entirely - the fuse is running into an open box, which turns out to be mostly empty.

Charlie can't deliver.  His flash is only flash, and it's best when spontaneous.  Trying to put together a show for his audience, the audience that has formed around his chaotic antics, he has missed the mark.  It was fun watching him do things almost at random, it was entertaining to think he was "sticking it to the man."  But putting together the tour, Charlie has become "the man."  He's promoting himself as a "torpedo of truth," but the truth is really that Charlie is a dud.

His opening act was booed offstage.  Charlie himself was booed offstage.  Charlie isn't fun anymore.

When it looked like Charlie might be a car wreck in progress, that was interesting to watch.  When it looked like he was fighting for his job, or at least for more perks, that was interesting.  But when he's thrown himself overboard, vowing to swim to shore as a "torpedo of truth," what you take away from the sight is that, rather than flapping randomly in circles, Charlie might ought to strike it in one direction - any direction - and stick to it.

I said it before, I'm saying it again.  Rehab, lots of it, pronto.  While you're at it, maybe a little career counseling, and a visit or three with a skilled psychiatrist.

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