Mr. Barnum, please take notes...
Written: 4th Apr 2011 | Last Updated: 4th Apr 2011
I know...Charlie Sheen doesn’t deserve one more line of free publicity, but for some reason I feel I must add my two-cents’ worth about his recent public displays of (choreographed) bad behaviour.
His touring stand-up show, My Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat Is Not an Option, aka self-indulgent crude rant/poetry slam, was a flop in Detroit on Saturday, and is sure to annoy and disappoint audiences in other stops on the circuit. It’s one thing to grab a few loopy headlines and do whacky on TV...another to bore to tears then mock people who’ve paid hard-earned cash to witness your swan-dive into mania.
But then, that’s the point, isn’t it? If you want to watch, you’d better be prepared for the consequences, which more likely than not will be disturbing, unintelligible and insulting. That’s how it works.
The newspapers and websites burble is he bipolar? Have his years of excess finally fried his brain? Have all the tarts and all the rage simply burned him out? If mental illness is at the core, somebody better help him, quick, because the only way that gig goes, unleashed and unchecked, is down, way down. Even if you’re the most honest man in the universe.
Why are we so fascinated by Sheen’s modern take on the freak show? Are we so hooked on trash, so addicted to low-cal celebrity, that we simply can’t turn away?
He’s apparently about to release a smart phone app...so, is it just about promotion?
No, it’s about the 21st century. It’s about us. It’s about our “me, me, I” culture. It’s about failure to discriminate, lack of principles. It’s about fear. And loathing. And small-v voyeurism in the social networking age.
Apparently, those who bought Charlie’s T-shirt got taunted by those who didn’t after the Detroit show. When you think about it, you would look pretty stupid wearing the face of the guy who’d just taken you for a big, fat ride. And taken the mickey. And cackled all the way to the bank.
In Chicago on Sunday, after a hurried re-jig, Sheen pulled out a standing ovation. What can I say? He’s deftly doing erratic, which (cleverly) keeps them guessing.
P.T. Barnum, if he was still with us, would be taking notes.