Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Charlie Sheen: Wild and crazy guy Part Deux

I generally try and avoid retreading on old topics. Old news is old news and I would hate to alienate what few readers I have by repeating myself. But with the premiere of CBS' revamped Two and a Half Men and the Comedy Central Roast of Charlie Sheen occurring a few nights ago, I thought it was time to once again open up the Sheen file.

Gotta love sequels.

The backstage antics of television is always ripe with controversy. From the Quiz Show scandals to Suzanne Somers being kicked off Three's Company to the various battles over the Tonight Show, we forget that television is an industry and industry has always been about money. We forget that the cast of Friends are just five people being paid an exorbitant amount of money to act like they've known each other all their lives. The people on television are real people. Except, of course, for Sheen. If it's one thing he's tried to prove this past year, it's that he is more than human.


Sheen did something that no other actor does when in the middle of a dispute or followed by cameras, he embraced them. He not only created a hype machine around himself, he sold tickets to it. Conan O'Brien also used the media to his advantage during his debacle, but he didn't go nearly as far as Sheen did. For O'Brien, his career was on the line. For Sheen, his career and personal reputation was in danger. And instead of trying to brush it all under the rug he turned himself into a martyr for his winning way of life. His Comedy Central Roast was just an extension of that martyrdom.

In case you missed it, it'll be rerun 20 times this week.

Now, I hate Comedy Central Roasts. I find them to be the ultimate in lazy television. They are relatively cheap to make and hyped enough to fill up a huge chunk of the scheduling for the next two months. Comedy Central Roasts are a stable for bad comics who find it easier to be mean than it is to be funny. As an audience we have suffered through eight years of Jeffrey Ross' struggle towards comedy and jokes about Lisa Lampanelli's taste in men. It all gets old after awhile. With Sheen, however, they finally had a subject that was literally begging to be roasted. Roasts normally reserved for stars that have gone past their prime. Easy targets with nothing to lose because they have nothing left for them. Sheen is different. For Sheen it wasn't so much an easy ratings grab but a statement.

As opposed to Larry the Cable Guy or Flavor Flav's roast.

Sheen's roast was brilliantly scheduled the same night as Two and a Half Men's season premiere. CBS has hyped the new season heavily. Billboards and popups all over show Ashton Kutcher's grin where Sheen once stood. It remains to be seen whether Kutcher's charm can save the show (he was pretty awesome on That '70s Show), considering the fact that there has only been one Sheen-less episode. Who knows, maybe he can be replaceable on a show built around his own personality. But thanks to the Comedy Central Roast, Sheen at least had the last say.

I'll say it: Kutcher is probably the best replacement they could have found.

By sacrificing himself, Sheen is just offering himself to rebirth. The only question is, what will he do now that he's a punchline. He really is no longer a person, he is just a walking caricature of himself. So where does that leave him now? What can he possibly do now that his tiger-blood act has reached critical mass? During his roast, he claimed that he is no longer winning. He claims that he has already won. But with the dust just now settling on a year-long publicity battle, I think it's too early to declare a victor.

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