In the case of Charlie Sheen, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off turned out to be prophetic. In a very short amount of screen time, Sheen charmed Jennifer Grey’s character while at a police station under arrest for, well, I refer you to this bit of dialogue:
Boy in Police Station: Drugs?
Boy in Police Station: I meant, are you in here for drugs?
Twenty-five years later, Charlie Sheen is self-destructing under the influence of money, fame and suitcases of drugs (cocaine, to be precise). He verbally lashed out at the creator of Two and a Half Men, and now his terrible yet very popular sitcom has ceased production. And Sheen just won’t stop talking to the media, while the media (of course) can’t get enough of him.
Just about every boy I’ve spoken to, from my four male roommates up to my own father, has expressed an admiration for Sheen’s character on Two and a Half Men. Charlie Harper is a hard-drinking, womanizing advertising jingle writer who lives in Malibu, which if you switch out a few adjectives sounds a lot like the real life of Charlie Sheen. It’s no coincidence. As of late, the show has devolved into a metafictional take on the self-destruction of Charlie Sheen/Charlie Harper.
If I could divulge in some blatant overgeneralization, I think that the men who admire this Sheen/Harper hybrid want the surface pleasures that the man/character represents. After all, who doesn’t want to be rich and have lots of sex with no consequences? These are common cultural markers of success and status in American society.
But, there is a largely publicized dark side to Sheen/Harper that can be glossed over while indulging in the fantasy life. Sheen has a long history with substance abuse (which, in my opinion, he’s in some serious denial about). And even more disturbingly, Sheen has been accused of domestic abuse against his fiancée, two of his wives, girlfriend, and two actresses in pornographic films.
The public and the U.S. legal system have largely forgiven Sheen for his repeated incidents of domestic violence against women. He paid a fine for throwing a woman to the floor during a fight, and he was put on probation for threatening the life of his wife. And yet, there are people out there who just think Charlie Sheen is funny, or doing it all for the publicity.
It’s disgusting on so many levels. As a society, we should be promoting respect for women. But the skyrocketing popularity of a man whose misogynistic antics are repeatedly absolved is awful. Is this really what how we want our men to behave? Is this truly how we want to define success?
I can’t say this loudly enough: DON’T BE THIS GUY.
–By Erin K. O’Neill