Watching Charlie Sheen’s Career Crumble Before Our Very Eyes

Why does this always happen?

A household name. A star. A celebrity. Hits the big time. Has a lucrative career. And then something inside them snaps.

Is it destiny? Are personalities who crave attention merely ripe for a fall? Predestined for substance abuse? Ego is programmed to override sensibility?

Sometimes you see the snap coming years before it actually happens. Think Michael Jackson.

Other times, it catches you by surprise. For me, it was with Bill Cosby and Tom Hanks.

Sometimes the snap is illegal. Oh, for example, drugs, murder, shoplifting, prostitution, fraud.

Other times it’s just an ego, too big for the interview room surrounded with 14 adopted children, a God-like authority on every subject matter, peppered with condescending comments about the little people.

But it’s undeniable. Something happens when a celebrity gets too big for his or her britches.

They begin to feel, they start to believe, that they are untouchable.

I have admired many a celebrity who seemed so down-to-earth. So real. And then watched them in an interview, years into their career, bantering with Barbara Walters with an over-inflated air of superiority.

Such a disappointment.

But they’re human. I can only imagine what it must be like to be told day after day, awards show after awards show, how wonderful you are. You finally believe it. You believe you are untouchable, a class unto yourself, unstoppable.

The sad cases are the Charlie Sheens. The Michael Jacksons. The O.J. Simpsons. Being told day after day, awards show after awards show, of your brilliance. Believing you are infallible. Believing that your reality is ethical and moral simply because you say it is so.

And we sit back and watch the fall. From our cozy living rooms. Dripping with reality.

And we  judge.

Forgetting the role we have played putting celebrities on that pedestal in the first place.

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22 Comments

Filed under Deep Thoughts, Observations

22 responses to “Watching Charlie Sheen’s Career Crumble Before Our Very Eyes

  1. I think Martha Stewart was the biggest shocker for me – she was just so bloody perfect (I had a bit of a sad hero worship thing going on for a while – mostly I coveted her house…) except that it turned out that she was just a greedy woman. Sometimes I’d like to be rich (not necessarily famous – I think that’s where the majority of it goes wrong) and sometimes I’m glad I’m just me!

  2. What I find so interesting is that Martin Sheen and his wife raised two boys (that I know of), Emilio Estevez seems so very normal, and Charlie? Well, Charlie obviously cannot deal with the weight of celebrity. Perhaps Emilio is okay because he’s never had the same degree of celebrity.

  3. I think the thing is that these celebs mess up early and often and there are NO consequences, so they begin to believe that the rules don’t apply to them. And so they push it and push it, and still suffer no consequences…until. Bam.

    Personally, I wish Lohan would just O.D. already. So tired of her garbage.

  4. charmstep

    And yet we’re still talking about them. I think to say “they’re human” is a way to let these people off the hook. We are all responsible for our behavior, genius or not. We can put people on a pedestal, but what they do while they are on that pedestal is their responsibility, their choice. And if we choose to be disappointed when they fall, what does that say about us?

    I don’t even understand why anybody gives a rat’s ass about Charlie Sheen. Is he ever going to be broke or homeless or without health benefits? No. It doesn’t matter what he does – there will be no consequences. He’ll just “rich & famous” his way out of whatever situation he’s in, just like the rich [and famous] do. He’s Brittany Spears with a penis.

  5. Celebrities are surrounded by people who fuel this behavior. There are no consequences and the masses are very quick to allow celebrities to climb back into the spotlight. (Robert Downey Jr. comes to mind) In Hollywood, there seems to be an infinite number of chances.

  6. I watched his 20/20 interview last night and just felt sad for him. I think you are right. He’s lived a life being told he is better than, and now it is deemed “entertainment” to listen to his rants of superiority. I hope he gets a gentle reality check (without cameras present).

  7. Mel

    Sad, isn’t it? I think some people are just genetically destined for substance abuse or mental illness or whatever is really wrong with Charlie. The comment he made to Howard Stern shocked me, that if his family tried and intervention to get him into rehab, they’d better bring guns. He must have broken his family’s hearts into pieces by now.
    Btw, what did Tom Hanks do??? Do I have to take him off my pedestal too?

  8. Hi Jane – such a good point. I wonder too, what makes people like that get so out of control – even more I can’t help but wonder, what makes people WANT to be like that? I’m sure it does have something (a lot probably!) to do with those over-inflated egos and feeling indestructible. Whatever the reason, it’s really sad – I can’t imagine living like that.

  9. Yep, it was hard to watch him last night…yet I did. And the night before. Time to stop because he just isn’t worth my time.

  10. You might enjoy this article by Chicago columnist Mary Schmich http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/columnists/ct-met-schmich-0302-20110302,0,1063392.column

    The last line” ….and we’ll realize that, once again, we treated the destruction of a human being as entertainment.”

  11. Sure, you could say the media or the audience play a role. But what about all those celebrities who don’t pull this narcissistic self-destructive crap? And that’s the majority.

    It is sad to watch. Wasteful. But some “civilians” self-destruct, and others don’t. I think this is similar. Except the public watches.

  12. It’s such a pity that fall from grace that happens to celebrities. But, I’m never quite aware because I never bother to read about them. I do see the online headlines and links, but have no desire to read about them.

    But, they are human and have human emotions. Soon comes a day, I’m sure, where they are alone at night one too many times and can contemplate – just like me and you.

  13. I think they deal with the same “issue” we do ~ addictions, self-esteem, purpose, and on an on. The fame they’ve achieved and we so eagerly give them puts their struggles in the limelight, which intensifies both the struggle and the spectacle, because it’s right there for us to see, magnified for pubic consumption. Were you to have witnessed on a daily basis my battles with depression, eating disorders and alcohol, and were I to feel the need or desire to explain or justify my actions (maniac behavior or not), I imagine the lessons I’ve had to learn would seem quite the “fall from grace” as well. Does what I have been through privately make me any less the wonderful woman that I am? I hardly think so. I’m not a fan of Charlie Sheen, never have been. But I can imagine that if he survives this, if someone can get through to him, in 10 or 15 years, he’ll be another one of those aging actors we’ve watched “ruin” their lives and come to respect for fighting their fight and surviving. Hollywood is just a town, and actors are just people like you and me.

  14. Jayne

    I’ve clearly been living in a paper bag – Tom Hanks has had a meltdown too? So sad.

    I’ve read that an awful lot of actors are actually in reality classed as the shy and sensitive type so, speaking as someone definitely of that ilk, life can be a bit of a trial sometimes. Shoot them to superstardom, surround them with sycophants, and I suppose you have a recipe for disaster. Like the rest of us, they have ‘issues’and problems to deal with. Unlike many of the rest of us they live in an unhealthy atmosphere and when/if they implode they have to do so publicly.

    I know, for instance, that Mel Gibson is a bit of a figure of hate at the moment but I honestly think he and Charlie Sheen are mentally ill right now and need help, not vilification. Lindsay Lohan is an out-and-out addict and needs some proper help (and judges that will mete out proper sentences that *don’t* make it all seem OK).

    It’s the terrible price of fame, especially nowadays, when the paparazzi are on your every move – both good and bad.

  15. I’ve been toying with a post about Charlie. Just can’t seem to find the appropriate words for my total lack of understanding at his position and actions. I’ll keep working on it. Perhaps he’ll do something else to help inspire my muse.

  16. What a train wreck. Admittedly, I can’t turn away from it, thanks to all the media coverage. But then I ask…WHY does he get so much attention for this behavior? I don’t get it. We wouldn’t do that for a 2YO throwing a tantrum, right?

  17. Mel

    Jane! What about Tom Hanks? I want him to be perfect!!! What did he do besides divorce wife number one for wife number two? ADD Mel neeeeeds to know 🙂

  18. Yes! What the heck with Tom Hanks???!!

    I also think it’s interesting that nobody asked what constituted Bill Cosby’s breakdown. I keep hearing people agree with him, so I thought I was the only one who thought something wonky was going on with him.

  19. Discouraged

    Why would anyone wish Lindsay Lohan “would OD already?” If, God forbid, one of this individual’s children develops a drug or alcohol addiction, should we hope s/he hurries and ODs as well?

  20. Wow, spot- on observations. I have had exactly the same thoughts about all the trials and tribulations of fame and our role in enabling it all.
    I just found your blog through the kitchen witch blog, which I love, and I have gone back and read several of your blogs. They are very interesting, and I am glad I found them. I would like to think that if I knew you in person we would be friends. Thanks for my now having a new blog to enjoy.

  21. Discouraged

    My previous comment troubles me with its harshness and I am sorry for making it. And yet, I don’t think the comment at which it was directed should go unchallenged. My intention was to demonstrate that wishing someone dead doesn’t seem as flip or harmless when it is applied to people we love. If our own behavior in a public forum lacks accountability, how can we sit in judgment of others much less hope to effect any change?

  22. I had a brush with fame for a short period, indirectly really because my partner ran a large tv company. We had the press up at our house, parked outside talking photos of us all every time we left the house.

    By the end of the first week I was going insane, really. I was paranoid that every time I left the house I was being followed (turned out I was). Well I could write a whole blog post about this, but after that I would never ever want to be famous again!

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