Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Disgust or Pity?

The past couple of weeks, we as a society, are watching a man implode, almost as if it is a spectator sport.  There is a familiar feel to what we are witnessing, almost reminiscent of the spectators cheering as the Christians were devoured by hungry lions.  In this case though, it is we, the viewing public, who are devouring a human being.

As Mr. Sheen began making statements over the course of the past couple of weeks, I found myself waffling between disgust and pity.  We all have known about his very sordid past, for it too has been plastered across the covers of magazines and featured in short sound bites on TV shows.

It is easy to let disgust overtake us, isn't it?  Here we have a man who seemingly appears to have it all, and lately has been proud to shove that down our throats with his own comments.  His fame, his money, his Hollywood lifestyle which is indeed the envy of many who spend their own days anxiously trying to reach that "pinnacle" of success.  This man, who has everything a man could want and has spent the past few days expressing exactly that thought as he thumbs his nose at the world around him, is arrogant, obnoxious, and the very epitome of what we all hate about those we put at the top of the entertainment world.  His words spoken recently prove our point that everyone in Hollywood is a spoiled brat.  There is very little there to like, and there is very much there that fills us with disdain. And yet for all his arrogance, for all his pride in all that he owns and has achieved, for all that we equate with the excesses of the Hollywood lifestyle that we see displayed with gusto in Charlie Sheen these days, what is painfully obvious is this:

Charlie Sheen is a broken man.

If you stripped away the pompous attitude, if you stripped away the money and what he currently perceives as his "bankability" and his star power, what you have is a troubled, addicted, perhaps also mentally ill man.  I can't help but pity Charlie, who right now is spiraling downward so quickly due to whatever demons have their grip on him.  And sadly, the news magazine shows are giving this poor, ill man a platform for his drug or mental illness addled mind to spew forth the venom and far out thoughts that are so clearly the sign that he needs help, despite his claims to the contrary. 

I hear a man who has given up the fight, who has said, pardon me, "Screw it...I can no longer deal with this so it is easier to go with it.  The fight is too hard, I give up.".  Is that reading between the lines?  Yes, but I do think it is true. 

Addiction and mental illness (for I know not which Mr. Sheen is afflicted with, perhaps both) is a terribly misunderstood state of being.  We feel it is something that a person ought to be able to control, we feel a sense of superiority for being of higher moral character than those who succumb to such things, we view it is a weakness rather than an affliction.  We would be wrong.

I do not have a particular fondness for Mr. Sheen, to me he is just another actor.  I am not defending him, per se, nor his actions of late.  I guess what I am saying is that the machine that is our media always has to be fed, and often it is fed with the bodies of the folks whose desire for fame and fortune litter the side of Rodeo Drive.  We can say all we want that "they asked for it", but when one sees the rapid decline of a Britney Spears, a Lindsey Lohan, or a Charlie Sheen, one ought to pause briefly and think about a culture that is so hungry for fodder that it chomps and gnaws on it's designated heroes and spits them out the other side. 

Did they ask for it?  Did they?  I don't know that anyone can every be fully prepared or understand what they are jumping into when they desire fame and fortune.  Does the young kid from Oklahoma who graduates from high school have a CLUE what they might actually be getting into when they pack their car the day after graduation and head off to Hollywood to try and achieve stardom?  The lives we see portrayed on film and in glossy photos are seductive. It must be, after all, we pursue it with our magazine purchases and our viewing habits to the tune of billions of dollars every year.  And we sit back and point our fingers at the folks who too are seduced by what they saw and fall victim to the excess, an excess that you and I as bystanders and not participants can not really understand.

It would be easy to play devil's advocate and say that one could hardly say that Charlie had no idea what the Hollywood lifestyle was about, after all, he was born into it.  The Sheen family is a mini-dynasty, he certainly had to be familiar with the risks.  What we fail to see though, is that Charlie Sheen also had no idea what life is like outside that Crystal Palace, he has never had the chance to view life from a different vantage point which might help put things into a more balanced perspective.

The nonsensical ramblings and the abandonment of his long time publicist tell us that not only has Mr. Sheen given up on himself, but those around him, aside from his father, have also given up on him.

Dr. Drew and crew exist because Hollywood is filled with brokenness.  But before we point our fingers and shout in disgust about how "those people" ought to suffer because they were focused on the things of this earth, let's not forget that we too fail, we too chase after homes we can't afford, cars we shouldn't be buying, "fame" in the form of promotions at work or prominent places in our community.  We may not equate it with the same excesses as Hollywood exhibits, but in God's eyes it is likely the same.  When we yearn for that which is transitory, when we fail to see what real riches are, we are no better than those we sit back and ridicule from our armchairs as we watch Dr. Drew's interventions. 

We too are often very, very broken. 

Thankfully, there is a God who can heal that brokenness.  There is a God who will not look at us with disgust.  When we spiral out of control, if we look down we will see we have our feet planted firmly in God's palm and are still being held, even if at the moment we feel all alone. 

I wish peace for Charlie Sheen, I wish healing and hope, for right now it appears he has abandoned all hope of living a different sort of life.  I wish  protection for his young children so they might not see all the ugliness surrounding this current situation.

I think I will push aside pity and disgust, and might open up to a little compassion.


Anonymous said...

I'll opt for pity, prayer, and peace. Someone shut the spotlight off.


Anne said...

He hath made a god unto himself. If Mr. Sheen doesn't have a "Steven Baldwin moment" soon, he's likely going to self-implode.

Alice said...

I haven't followed him too much but I find your blog posts so real, deep and insightful... I really enjoy your writing.


the askeance said...

I think it is sad that the media is feeding into this mans sickness, by over exposure. This is a sad commentary on the so called world of entertainment. Sheen needs help and healing, and most definitely our prayers.

Anonymous said...

Hey -

Interesting article on NPR about the whole Charlie Sheen coverage...


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