The Nine Lives of Charlie Sheen

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Is he still winning?

I am going to tell you something that might shock you. I am a woman that enjoys watching misogynist shows such as Two and a Half Men and Anger Management. There’s no disputing that Charlie Sheen succeeds in comedy, he has over a million viewers to thank for that, but what Charlie sucks at is life. For the past 20 years, Charlie Sheen has allegedly assaulted, threatened, harassed, abused, and – in one incident – shot women. I in no way condone his behaviour, yet by watching his shows I realise I am contributing to the idea that this is acceptable, as are millions of other women. It’s not that I don’t care – I do, yet I feel that I have been propelled into Charlie’s charisma, whatever that is, and tend to disassociate Charlie the man from Charlie the actor.

As I sat down to watch the new season of Big Brother last week I, too, was trying to guess which secret belonged to which male housemate. Some included – I am a multi-millionaire; I have the IQ of a genius or I am a juvenile offender. My friend turned to me and said “some women would be oohing and ahhing over the millionaire and I’d be like ooh a criminal huh?” as she let out a roaring laugh. And I agreed with her – women are notorious for loving a bad boy; for heaven’s sake we’re lapping up controlling, domineering men like they are going out of style as far as erotic fiction is concerned.

So what is it about Charlie Sheen that makes him bulletproof? I hate saying that especially given his history – but I, just like a lot of Australians, tuned into the new series Anger Management this week and I was shocked most of all that his ex-wife Denise Richards is a guest star in a future episode. Let’s not forget that Sheen called the accusations of his behaviour made by his ex-wife “laughable and inane”. In 2006, Denise Richards filed for divorce from Sheen making allegations in court documents about his transgressions (including child porn, obsessive gambling, drug use, and prostitutes).

Now I don’t know the in’s and out’s of their short-lived marriage but I do wonder why some women go back. Tracie Egan Morrissey wrote a brilliant piece for Jezebel last year about Charlie Sheen’s history of violence toward women. In part she wrote:

“Sheen maintains that every woman who has made allegations – or taken out restraining orders – against him is lying, despite the fact that he’s plead guilty in two court cases regarding domestic abuse. Sheen’s m.o. seems to be to invalidate these women’s claims by accusing them of being money hungry or fame hungry. It’s interesting for him to consider women looking for money, particularly at the end of the relationship with him, as some kind of character flaw, considering his well-known practice of paying women to party with him, as well as his penchant for hookers.”

Throughout my life I have experienced abuse from men – both sexual and emotional. While I’m not comfortable sharing the exact details of these events, I will say this: On more than one occasion I have blamed myself. I have looked back on what happened to me; how my trust was betrayed and thought surely there must have been something I did to make this man behave in such a way. I just have to find it so I can move on and so I can let go of the past.

But you know what? I didn’t deserve it and I didn’t see it coming. I am a woman and I deserve as much respect as the man standing next to me. No woman deserves to be emotionally, physically or sexually abused and no woman should live in fear thinking it might happen to her.

I will admit my fault here. I shouldn’t be watching Charlie Sheen’s shows but I do find them genuinely funny. That is a flaw that I am willing to wear. Sheen does not deserve his success – especially not after the 20+ years of his history of violence against women. It seems that the violence has taken a back seat to the actor’s partying, wild lifestyle, and battle with addiction that has been part of the narrative of his bad boy persona that has actually propelled his success rather than hindered it.

I contribute to this and it baffles me why I continue to watch given his history. Am I just one of those idiots who accepts violence against women as something we just have to put up with? The problem is too big. Let someone else deal with it. Let someone else boycott his shows and turn a blind eye.

I believe the bigger problem lies with the television studios who continue to hire him and let the public believe that it is perfectly okay to hit and abuse women and still be a successful actor. Something has to give but I don’t believe Charlie Sheen’s luck has run out yet. In his own words he is still “winning”.

Did you watch Two and a Half Men or Anger Management? Can you separate the violent history of Charlie Sheen and Charlie the actor? Are we condoning domestic violence as a society by the ratings these shows continue to achieve?

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  • Mandi Aylmore

    I’ve seen some Two and a Half Men, but I couldn’t watch because I despised his character. He’s a smarmy bastard and I hate people like that in real life. So I don’t watch the show.

    Anger Management I haven’t seen. Won’t watch because of Charlie.

    I realise that he’s got issues. I really do. But he has so many options in front of him to help him and he just doesn’t want it.

    I’m lucky I don’t find him all that funny, or his characters all that nice. Makes it easy not to watch.

    • Rose Russo

      You’re right Mandi – he does have a lot of options in front of him to help him. I think he’s too far gone in the celebrity world to ever come back to reality unfortunately.

  • Jessica Chapman

    I don’t watch Two and a Half men or Anger Management but I never found either show particularly humorous or entertaining. I don’t know what I would do if the main actor from one of my favourite shows had a private life as reprehensible as Charlie Sheens, but if I’m honest, I’d probably keep watching.

    I think we live in a world where money and entertainment tend to trump bad behaviour. Look at Chris Brown, a year after he beat up his girlfriend all was forgiven and he was welcomed back to the Grammys. I don’t think I would buy any of his music now but then I never particularly liked it anyway.

    I think as long as television studios can make money off Charlie Sheen and as long as Charlie Sheen can entertain people, he’ll be on television. I don’t know if that’s necessarily condoning his behaviour as it’s not domestic violence that the shows are portraying. If the shows themselves were making a joke out of domestic violence then I would definitely say they should be boycotted.

    I do however disagree with the fact that he is winning just because he has a successful career. You said it yourself, he sucks at life. Whenever I have heard him interviewed he sounds like an unhappy person desperately trying to justify himself.

    • Rose Russo

      I just really like the shows… I wish I didn’t as I can’t stand his track record.

  • Jen

    I love Charlie Sheen…hes just so naughty!! I loved him in Two and a Half Men and I watched Anger Management I thoght the first episode seemed ok and will watch again. I want to get upset about his behaviour and the way he treats women but it dosen’t bother me that much. I just like to watch TV, be entertained and not think too deeply about things that don’t affect me!!

    • Rose Russo

      I think I’m the same as you Jen… I felt I was maybe thinking too much about things that don’t affect me with this piece but it was current so I thought why not share my thoughts.

  • Ozgirl

    Honestly?

    By watching him we are enabling him… its just that simple.

    I must admit I did sort of follow the Nova Charlie Sheen story when they flew what’s his name to LA to meet him(opnyl cause i listen to the breakfast show). I didn’t think it was funny or clever. And you know what if people stopped caring about his professional career or personal life then he would stop “performing” as such, because all that crap (when Nova were there) was just him “performing” for his “fans”.

    Ignore him and he will go away!

    In my eyes Charlie Sheen and Kyle Sanderlands are from the same rotten tree – and neither of them would I ever give the time of day.

    • Rose Russo

      But that’s the thing… I don’t really want him to go away, I enjoy his shows – I just wish he would try and get better and treat women with more respect.

      I actually don’t mind Kyle Sandilands either. I don’t listen to his breakfast show but some of the things he says actually make sense – he just calls a spade a spade. It’s a given that sometimes he takes it a step too far and I don’t condone that but I think his personality is refreshing – especially when most celebrities play it safe.