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Posted at 1:09 PM ET, 03/ 2/2011

Charlie Sheen: Does he win any points for honesty?

By Jen Chaney
Sheen: nuts or in some crazy way, a poster boy for candor? (AP)

New York Magazine's Vulture blog can read your mind. And it knows that you're a little conflicted about this whole Charlie Sheen debacle.

In a post called "The Argument You're Having With Yourself About Charlie Sheen," writer Willa Paskin ping-pongs back and forth between the angels and devils currently residing in our hearts regarding Sheen. On one hand, we find his unpredictable, over-the-top behavior hilarious. We forward his tweets to our friends and now punctuate all ridiculous comment with the word "winning." Schaden and freude have never gotten along so famously.

On the other hand, the whole thing is sad. All the media coverage (yes, our own included) is simply enabling him to continue acting like a lunatic. And in the process, he's potentially hurting numerous people -- father Martin Sheen, his children (recently taken out of his custody) and his fellow cast and crew members from "Two and a Half Men."

Well, here's another question to add to the swirl of conflicting emotions brought on by a public meltdown that is beginning to make Mel Gibson seem restrained by comparison: is there something strangely refreshing, in a twisted way, about Sheen's brazen honesty?

To be clear, Sheen is obviously not playing with anything approaching a full deck right now. What he characterizes as "Sheen just being Charlie" is evidence, most would agree, of an addict whose disease (and ego) is getting the better of him.

Yet during one of his many recent interviews on "Today," he suggested he had been living a lie before and now he can finally be who he is.

"I'm tired of pretending like I'm not special," he said.

That made my ears perk up. Maybe it's all the time I've just spent in L.A. on the red carpet circuit, but I suspect that plenty of people in Hollywood sometimes feel shades of the same feeling. With their images managed by publicists and agents, all of them telling their clients what not to say during interviews, how not to behave at A-list parties and which roles they would be smart to take and even wiser to pass on, many actors may feel like their decisions sometimes aren't their own. Some of them may feel like they are more "special" than they are able to express.

Sheen's form of special, at least right now, probably isn't the healthy kind. But imagine what L.A. would be like if actors could walk the red carpet and just say what they feel.

Like: "You know what? This whole process is so ridiculous and I can't stand the charade, but I do this because I need to in order to keep acting."

Or: "Actually, I didn't leave that project because I had other commitments. I left it because the director was kind of an imbecile and I knew if I had to spend two months on location with that guy, I'd set my eyelids on fire."

Or: "I genuinely do want to win the Oscar. It's an honor to be nominated, sure. But if I don't win, I'm going to shut myself in my house for a couple of days and eat nothing but peanut butter Puffins."

If fellow celebrities currently following Sheen on Twitter seem to be almost cheering him on in a weird way -- Diddy tweeted "@charliesheen can u please send me the address to ur house? Ive been dreamin about a party like this all my life" -- maybe that independent streak is what they're responding to: the notion that finally, someone in Hollywood is keeping it real, as real as it gets.

Of course, that has its consequences. Americans do expect a certain amount of decorum (and, ideally, sanity) from their celebrities, as the response to Melissa Leo's profane slip-up during the Academy Awards demonstrated. But maybe more candor -- in moderation, which is not the way Sheen does anything, it seems -- would be welcome. Maybe in some crazy-with-a-capital-C way, Sheen's behavior may lead by example.

Or maybe this is just one more train of thought to add to the argument you're currently having with yourself about Charlie Sheen.

By Jen Chaney  | March 2, 2011; 1:09 PM ET
Categories:  Charlie Sheen  
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I personally don't find all of this entertaining as much as purely sad.

I saw part of the GMA interview this morning where Charlie said his father judged him and therefore deserves to die. I don't find that kind of honesty refreshing.

The type of red carpet honesty you describe would make me think every more that many celebrities are too whiny for their own good.

Having said all of this, I have to disclose I have a headache and am a bit cranky because of it.

Posted by: JLRGG | March 2, 2011 1:32 PM | Report abuse

"On one hand, we find his unpredictable, over-the-top behavior hilarious."

Speak for yourself. I find it all sad. At this juncture Sheen is so impaired, whether by illness or self-medication, that he wouldn't recognize honesty if it bit him on the backside. I just hope he gets locked away in treatment until he recovers, for his own sake as well as his children's (a complimentary vasectomy might also be in order).

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | March 2, 2011 1:36 PM | Report abuse

JLRGG, let me buy you a ginger ale over at the Lizard Island Tiki Bar. Make that two, bar-keep.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | March 2, 2011 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Honesty? You're kidding, right?

To begin with, he preempted what passes these days as "real" news coverage, simply because he wanted to push a personal agenda -- for personal gain -- and the news panders to rich celebrities. He was extremely manipulative when being interviewed, dodging questions in a variety of ways. His body language indicated when he was lying in other responses. He presented a seemingly scripted scene of a family life, except one of the young women admitted that the one sentence one of the twins had got down pat was "daddy's busy." So much for spending time as a family. He claimed that by canceling the show the studio was going after his family by leaving him without a paycheck. This from a man that Denise Richards said recently has made no financial arrangements for their children, no college fund, no trust fund, etc. Some honesty to claim you need your paycheck to support your family when you spend it on dope, sex, and cars.

He also claimed he had a series (I don't recall, was it with HBO?), which was not true, now claims he will be working on a movie. No one else has stepped up to verify this, so that's another tale. Note: one of the non-responses, that he "can't remember" the last time he did drugs, indicates the last time was likely after the "at home rehab."

My predictions: one of the "goddesses" is going to defect soon. Mr. Sheen will be broke by May.

Posted by: squeaksqueak | March 2, 2011 2:16 PM | Report abuse

No, I don't find him funny or refreshing or whatever. His kind of "honesty" is all to common these days and hardly refreshing.

Posted by: catherine3 | March 2, 2011 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Who really cares about Charlie? His wife? Girlfriends? kids? What fans? He is just another sleezy guy on yet another sleeze sit com on CBS.

Posted by: hawkiiiii | March 2, 2011 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Soap box time.

A person who clearly cannot be honest with himself should in no way be an example of honesty to others.

I experience Charlie Sheen as in a state of denial so far outside of reality as to be frankly delusional. To use him, in his current state, as some sort of exemplary for tearing down the facade of Hollywood is a misappropriation. His behavior - which includes domestic violence, by the way - is not to be lauded by anyone as even so much as rebellious.

The fact that 1 million people want to follow him on Twitter suggests to me that 1 million people are colluding with and enabling a very sick individual as well as their own sick parts. Yesterday, not hours after I saw that Sheen had created a Twitter account, I tweeted: "is not going to follow, at or hashtag Charlie Sheen as that would just enable his grandiosity. #ThinkingOfHisKids"

My work is to counsel people whose lives have been literally destroyed by drug and alcohol addiction. I have been through and continue in my own recovery process, as a child of addicts and all the mess that led to in my own life. It is not glamorous or hilarious. An active addict is the least honest person on the face of the earth, if with no one else but herself.

What does it say about us, the audience eating all his denial up, retweeting it, interviewing it, laughing at it and applauding it? What does it say about our own areas of denial in our own lives? Substance abuse has been and will always be a family and community and societal disease. It touches everyone at some point. To make a mockery of that, to make a giant circus-like gothic spectacle of it by bolstering up Sheen's debilitated state is to feed and amplify our own denial that this is just not serious business and can't really hurt real people, hasn't hurt us, and won't.

Posted by: kmzwick | March 2, 2011 2:31 PM | Report abuse

I have been thinking for weeks now, why the heck is anyone still talking about this whining loser? I am so sick of him I could spit. Enough already! Go away dude!

Posted by: Californian11 | March 2, 2011 2:34 PM | Report abuse

And John Galliano was just being "honest."

Posted by: ziasky | March 2, 2011 2:39 PM | Report abuse

I have been thinking for weeks now, why the heck is anyone still talking about this whining loser? I am so sick of him I could spit. Enough already! Go away dude!

Posted by: Californian11

Seconded. And amazed it took this long to get his kids the he1l out of there.

Posted by: sorcerers_cat | March 2, 2011 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Nosy - Thanks for the ginger ale! I had coffee (or what passes as coffee here in the office) and some aspirin. That, and a half hour away from work stress (read: goofing off) has helped quite a bit. I feel more like myself.
I think this whole Charlie Sheen thing is like the proverbial train wreck. It's horrible and sad, but you watch anyway. I'm not proud of it, but there it is.

Posted by: JLRGG | March 2, 2011 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Honesty? It doesn't have anything to do with honesty. Charlie Sheen has been enormously entertaining this week. I thank him for that.

Posted by: Jumpy66 | March 2, 2011 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm, Special. Like Church Lady Special.

Thanks Nosy for articulating it so well.
There is nothing hilarious about it. It is just sad, sad, sad. And, there is NOTHING honest about a drug/alcohol induced rant.
It is astounding, but ever so hopeful, that LiLo could be an example to him. Maybe, if he doesn't die first.
I've been sober 15yrs now, and watched far too many like Charlie who didn't make it. What is funny about that?
I'd love to join you for that ginger ale.

Posted by: agog1 | March 2, 2011 3:32 PM | Report abuse

"And, there is NOTHING honest about a drug/alcohol induced rant."

A bit of a digression, but what about an anger-induced rant? Christian Bale's going off the rails hasn't hurt his career/public persona one bit.

Posted by: Californian11 | March 2, 2011 3:50 PM | Report abuse

His antics aren't remotely amusing, hilarious or honest, especially when members of my own family are behaving or have behaved exactly the same way. (Albeit with less attention)
There is nothing but unbelievable pain and sadness for his family and friends who love him.
I'm actually a little disappointed in this post.

Posted by: pras40 | March 2, 2011 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Californian, I don't know if there could be any honesty in an anger induced rant, but I do know it is no less awful, and at that point, content becomes irrelevant, however much or little honesty there might be in it.

Posted by: agog1 | March 2, 2011 4:10 PM | Report abuse

just dont be surprised when he appears in a sitcom living with 2-ex porn stars and a 'little person' called 2 1/2 women on fox next year - and it crushes it's competition

america loves it's crazy out of control absurdity spewing tv stars... hell they should give him a show on fox news...

Posted by: quintiliusvarus | March 2, 2011 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Absolutely. It's the lack of spin here that I find COMPLETELY REFRESHING. He just doesn't give a damn about appearances anymore and I think it's yes, refreshing.

Posted by: scoopy2 | March 2, 2011 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Sheen has threatened the lives of at least two women and locked another in a closet--and you are asking if he wins any points for honesty? Jen Chaney, don't you think the focus of your article is off the mark?

Posted by: aclaymation | March 2, 2011 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Re a comment about giving Charlie a spot on Fox News. Since he's telling the truth, FOX NEWS is the place. If he's lying, then CNN or 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue would be better as in "..I will close Gitmo": "I will bring all the troops home"; "I will never agree to a surge". Of course, there is also "..I never had sex with that woman."

Posted by: fregameeate | March 2, 2011 4:32 PM | Report abuse

i must admit i think it's hilarious. i mean come on strict from an entertainment perspective i've been cracking up for days.

look..... the guy is an actor. not a worker bee sitting behind a desk 9-5 making 'good money'. he's paid to act, no schedule unless he's on production, doesn't have to pass random drug tests, has money and women want to be with him.

how can you NOT laugh?!?

Posted by: nall92 | March 2, 2011 4:47 PM | Report abuse

He's an entertainer and he's got the tail wagging the dog here. I find the whole situation quite funny. While I fear that he could be doing irreversible damage to his liver and his kidneys and perhaps his brain, it's apparently his choice. He says some stupid, hateful things. But he's also sounding pretty lucid to my ears. It is Hollywood, and weird is normal.

I think the funniest aspect is the holier-than-thou pendantic prudes that have come out of the woodwork to comment on this 'story.' They have diagnosed his mental condition and have prescribed the only medicine for his affliction.

Maybe he doesn't need rehab. Maybe he just needs more cowbell.

Now, your mileage may vary....

Posted by: lingering_lead | March 2, 2011 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Definitely needs more cowbell.

Posted by: kybos | March 2, 2011 5:06 PM | Report abuse

While I fear that he could be doing irreversible damage to his liver and his kidneys and perhaps his brain, it's apparently his choice.

Sheesh, not if he's incompetent to choose due to mental illness or impairment.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | March 2, 2011 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Jen- this is a good read. I'm having the same argument with myself right now. It's like a subclassification of schadenfraude. I would love for this to be some version of the Joaquin Phoenix stunt for a little while back. (I know it's not, but I can dream.)

And yeah, definitely needs more cowbell.

Posted by: Bawlmer51 | March 2, 2011 5:19 PM | Report abuse

I haven't found it entertaining - I've found it sad.

Obviously the Sheen/Estevez family has pulled away from him, and he's only left with the "Goddesses". The deafening silence of his castmates from Two and a Half Men also speaks volumes.

I don't know if he's self-destructive or strictly delusional, but he obviously has done some damage to his cognitive state over the years. I think it's a waste of a life.

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | March 2, 2011 5:23 PM | Report abuse

watch out Glenn Beck! I see competition coming your way.

Posted by: nuanced | March 2, 2011 5:32 PM | Report abuse


How about a Friday List of stars who died of OD/substance abuse, mental illness or suicide? Could be sobering.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | March 2, 2011 5:44 PM | Report abuse

i second other commenters by saying this is a very sad situation. there are 4 very young children who are parties to this mess. no one seems to give 2 figs about them. they're the innocents in all of this. sheen is having some sort of breakdown, either bi-polar or paranoid psychosis. it's very disturbing. i've not watched one second of any of the interviews, but the topic has been impossible to avoid in the papers. there's no hilarity to this. he's blowing up right in front of us and nothing can stop it.

Posted by: frieda406 | March 3, 2011 12:58 AM | Report abuse

i second other commenters by saying this is a very sad situation. there are 4 very young children who are parties to this mess. no one seems to give 2 figs about them. they're the innocents in all of this. sheen is having some sort of breakdown, either bi-polar or paranoid psychosis. it's very disturbing. i've not watched one second of any of the interviews, but the topic has been impossible to avoid in the papers. there's no hilarity to this. he's blowing up right in front of us and nothing can stop it.

Posted by: frieda406 | March 3, 2011 12:59 AM | Report abuse

Nosy, I don't know if there's enough WaPo bandwidth to handle a list of stars that have died by OD/substance abuse/mental health issues!!

Bale was being honest, Sheen is delusional.

Posted by: wadejg | March 3, 2011 7:52 AM | Report abuse

I've been sober 18 years and I've personally found that my behavior and most of my alcoholic's behavior when we were practice was simultaneously sad AND funny.
The unrestrained ID is the "honesty" I think she's thinking of. The saying of whatever pops into your head at any given moment. It's not beneficial to anyone and it is often quite harmful, but if you're just watching the moment it can be quite funny. The guy slipping on a banana peel is funny, the ambulance coming up and carting him off is not.

I also have found, for me personally, that if i can't laugh at the idiot I was, if i look at my sobriety as sacred and humorless, i'll be just as big an a$$h01e as i was when i was drinking, and that's not why i got sober.

Posted by: keepwastingmoney | March 3, 2011 8:09 AM | Report abuse

should read "my fellow alcoholic's"
they aren't my alcoholics, they belong to all of us.

Posted by: keepwastingmoney | March 3, 2011 8:14 AM | Report abuse

If the man inserts some "self-aware" statements in his rants, then good for him. It does not make any of what he is saying sensible and honest. Do not give the man more credit than he deserves.

My life has just become Charlie Sheen-free. I feel better already.

Posted by: cfow1 | March 3, 2011 8:36 AM | Report abuse

Yummmmmm, a couple of days home along with peanut butter Puffins... Do I have to lose an Academy Award to do that?

Posted by: kbockl | March 3, 2011 9:16 AM | Report abuse

He's certainly special - he's especially obnoxious, self-agrandizing, and self-involved. He is unwittingly providing a public service, however. We can all point to him and tell our children "whatever you do, don't do that."

Posted by: ikeaboy | March 3, 2011 12:25 PM | Report abuse

He's a full throttle idiot hedonist and I kinda love him for it.

Posted by: danw1 | March 3, 2011 2:41 PM | Report abuse

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