Last week it seemed no one could get enough of Charlie Sheen. Though he’d previously made the papers with his drug problems, domestic violence incidents, and hit TV series, Sheen attained internet meme status when, after his ravings derailed his show, he responded with spectacularly outsized references to himself as “an F-18” with “flaming fists” and “tiger blood” who was in all things #winning.
You know rightbloggers had to get a piece of this action. In their hands Sheen became a metaphor for liberalism, homeless policy, union violence, and America’s moral decline in the gay marriage era.
In fairness we must say that many of the brethren obviously used Sheen’s name, couched in anodyne isn’t-it-terrible and think-of-the-children angles, just to generate traffic. This we endorse as part of a timeless journalistic tradition.
We are sympathetic as well toward Christian sites that did Sheen posts, as they rely on fallen celebrities almost as much as gossip sites do. Sheen’s “public disintegration… reflects the core sickness of an entertainment-saturated, celebrity-worshipping culture,” one typical analysis by Army chaplain Michael Anthony Milton told us. Milton added, “the cure for Charlie Sheen is not more Charlie Sheen. The cure lies in less of him and more of God,” which is pretty quote-generator-worthy, itself.
But a lot of them, alas and what a shock, thought Sheen’s public breakdown was political news.
“Charlie Sheen, you are the denoument of the left wing dream,” said Warrior of RedState. “Your rant is indicative of the self-righteous arrogance which characterizes nearly everybody on the left… If anyone ever wonders what a country dominated by godless, leftist mooonbats will look like, all they need do is cast a weary glance your way. The river of putrid sewage which has become your life would very soon become characteristic of our national ethos.” A nation of #winners!
Also: “You are the harbinger of morbid excess, not George W. Bush.” We’re not sure how Bush got into it; maybe Warrior has a random generator of his own.
“Some might say that Sheen wants this publicity,” said Bookworm in Right Wing News. “…There’s a difference, though, between a mentally functioning person (even a low functioning person) taking appropriate steps to advance his career, and a mentally ill person treading that same path. It reminds me of the arguments the ACLU always makes about the paranoid schizophrenics on the streets of San Francisco: ‘They want to be there.'” Sheen’s current legal representation is probably focusing on other strategies, but no doubt appreciates the advice.
The easy layup for rightbloggers was Sheen’s association with Hollywood, which in their universe is a rogue state whose primary exports are donations to Democratic candidates, pornography, and treason.
“Charlie Sheen is the product of a liberal upbringing,” The Right Perspective Podcast Blog said, “his wide-eyed father slept on a heating grater to show solidarity with the homeless instead of raising his son in a decent manner.”
“[Sheen] finally said aloud what I’ve suspected the Hollywood crowd thought about us mere mortals for a long time,” said Musings of a Mad Conservative. “When is Hollywood going to learn that this is what happens when you raise your kids with extreme liberal ‘values’?” beseeched The Alternative Conservative.
“Even in the ‘fair city of Detroit’, when a man threatens to sever his wife′s head and mail it to her mother, the man usually winds up either in a jail cell or rubber-coated room of a psychiatric ward,” said Andrew Zarowny at Right Pundits. “But in Hollywood, such a man sets records for new Twitter followers and earns millions of dollars.” This implies that Sheen’s record-breaking crop of followers are all Hollywood weirdos themselves, which just makes his achievement all the more remarkable.
The Sheen menace was thought to have further implications. In a video, AlfonZo Rachel showed an angry union demonstrator and said the man was “Charlie Sheen in 30 more months — same person, totally obsessed with how bad-ass they are and how violent they can get.” Also, “Charlie Sheen is another one of those types who hates the rich and their greed.” This doesn’t seem to track with Sheen’s actual “bitchin’ rockstar” self-assessment, enabled as it is by mountains of cash, but Rachel insisted, “he’s the greedy rich, he’s projecting. He’s the same as the unions. It’s never enough for them!” Clearly Scott Walker is right to try to strip Wisconsin teachers of their excessively generous two-goddess-per-household benefits.
Later Rachel compared unions (or maybe Charlie Sheen, it’s not clear) to pimps and battered women, suggested the word “Sheen” be used as a synonym for shit, and raged at the Angry Left for attacking him for hate speech sometime in the future. Red State Report concurred: “With all the sanity and civility of a Charlie Sheen Tweet, the Unions and Democrats are relentless in their supposed anger and rage. ”
Some just went for humor, of a sort: Tobytoons offered a one-panel comic showing Sheen in a tiger suit celebrating his “tiger blood,” and a woman observing, “Oh, great. Now Charlie thinks he is a congressman!” Bob Gorrell did a four-panel strip with the punchline, “I am on a drug. It’s called liberal Democrat!” Sometimes the jokes write themselves, especially when no qualified author is available.
You-know-who was inevitably brought into it. “Addiction does strange things to the mind,” wrote Floyd and Mary Beth Brown. “The same is true of America’s addiction to debt… Clearly Obama is addicted to debt the same way Charlie Sheen is addicted to drugs.”
“Obama is WINNING the future, Charlie Sheen style,” tweeted Ben Shapiro. “Gadhafi, Charlie Sheen, bin Laden, Obama, Nancy P., MICKEY MOUSE, and DONALD DUCK can do whatever they want,” asserted Constance Lee, “BUT THEY CANNOT OUT RUN THE HOLY GHOST!”
Some focused on the liberal media’s blame in all this, and not solely in expected ways. “While the media is doing its best to exploit the self-destructive train wreak otherwise known as Charlie Sheen,” said Press Flak, “reporters, especially those in the liberal media, are demonstrating a case of selective amnesia about how cruel Charlie Sheen’s father, Martin, was in his comments about former President George W. Bush’s admission of his drinking problems as a young man.” Stop the presses!
Not everyone saw Sheen as an avatar of liberalism, though. A few saw his bold contempt for political correctness as a distinctly conservative trait.
“Unlike probably everyone else watching Charlie Sheen these days, we think this ‘train wreck’ (as some are calling it) is probably the best we’ve seen him, and (having mutual friends) we applaud him mightily for it,” said The Crack Emcee. “His nothing-can-take-me-down attitude, in the face of this wimpy, middle class, wet rag nanny state finger-wagging opinion is winning. This is a man, owning his actions and insisting everyone else come clean and take responsibility for theirs as well.”
So in going crazy, Sheen is actually going Galt. We’d be more inclined to sympathy with this view were it not for the suspicious tendency of women close to Sheen to wind up complaining of assault. But maybe The Crack Emcee took this into account, as he castigated the “cautious, conformist, inoffensive, non-risk taking, arrogant, lying bunch of NewAge pussies who think if any woman, like [Sheen’s Good Morning America] interviewer, says she or others don’t approve, then some form of public contrition and apology is called for.”
Ann Althouse appreciated Crack Emcee’s POV. “It’s funny, I was just saying to Meade that people don’t rant against ‘conformity’ anymore — not like they did in the 50s and 60s,” she mused.
Right Wing, Nut was even more inspired: “Some of us, sheep, willing to give up of freedoms for a little more security. On the other hand, some of us have become…Tea Partiers,” he wrote. “Another group of rebels, scorned by the media and loathed in polite society, who yet continue to push forward and succeed in their mission of taking our freedoms back. ‘Live Free or Die,’ and ‘Don’t Tread on Me’… sentiments that Charlie Sheen espouses in his own sphere seemingly every five minutes. And the media — despite their tongue-clucking at our imaginary excesses — cannot stop talking about us, even if only to vilify us.”
That’ll make the protest signs more interesting, at least: Less “Don’t Tread on Me,” more “We’ll Cure America With Our Brain” and “If You’re Part of the Tea Party We Will Love You Violently.”
WorldNetDaily’s Ilana Mercer approved Sheen’s non-conformism in another area: “Unlike the automatons of the entertainment industry – and the population at large – the intemperate Mr. Sheen refuses to accept as holy writ the teachings of a therapeutic cult that coerces its adherents into conformity.” The cult to which she referred is Alcoholics Anonymous. Well, good thing he’s out of that!
Perhaps the oddest Sheen reference came at the end of a long video conversation about gay marriage between Ricochet’s James Poulos and National Review‘s Jonah Goldberg. The two prominent conservatives, perhaps sensing the tide of history against them, spent 23 minutes trying to find problems with gay marriage without outright condemning it. Goldberg, for example, denounced the “elite populism” of people who “now have decided that they want to redefine what the institution of marriage is” just because “they have numbers and influence on their side…” Poulos used Barney Frank’s failure to endorse polygamy as evidence of “tension that exists on the left.” Etc.
Eventually they meandered into Goldberg’s idea of a marriage-ready “homosexual bourgeoisie” (or HoBos as Goldberg is pleased to call them), who in his view used to just want anonymous sex in clubs like the Ramrod before they, for some reason, decided they wanted to get married instead.
Poulos suggested that nowadays all bourgeois people, gay and straight, “especially want to do this kind oscillating back and forth between the comfy enclosures of their domestic zone and the experience of transgression that they swore off as a full-time lifestyle when they went bourgeois. Case in point, Charlie Sheen, right? This is the kind of guy who wants to have his cake and eat it too. He wants the bourgeois lifestyle, he wants the family lifestyle, but three divorces in he wants to have two girlfriends…”
Like many another commentator, Goldberg leapt at the chance to change the subject to Charlie Sheen. “One of the reasons why we’re in trouble in this country is that we don’t have as healthy institutions as we should, to create more decent people,” he said. “Though I still think this is an inherently decent country with vast reservoirs of — not to keep repeating the word — decency to draw upon, but when you have people like Charlie Sheen out there, when you have this sort of culture that says you can be both transgressive and bourgeois at the same time, that we can all be Batman, then you get yourself into trouble.”
Well, at least it got them off the topic of gay marriage, and onto the subject of how they and all decent people are better than, or at least jealous of, some celebrity. Which is fortunate, as that’s mainly what stories like this are good for.