For the past two weeks, Americans -- and even some abroad -- have been arguing over what's wrong with Charlie Sheen. The story has lost noticeable traction since Monday when Warner Bros. officially fired Sheen from Two and a Half Men. It's not by any means the end to Sheen's story but, until he signs on elsewhere or makes an alternative career move, it is where the saga leaves off. Since Sheen's epic radio rant and subsequent meltdown, some editorial writers have considered the larger issues at play with the story. Here, a look at some of the best takes:
Neil Gabler, Los Angeles Times: "Say what you will about Charlie Sheen -- that he is a raving lunatic, an egomaniac, a train wreck, an anti-Semite, a drug-addled cautionary tale -- he has also actually made some sense this past week by offering up a reasonably astute analysis of the relationship between the public and its celebrities." Gabler goes on: "This was the basic contract: Entertain us, and we'll grant you fame, riches and adoration -- so long as you remain one of us. Violate that contract at the peril of your career. Abide by it, like, say, Tom Hanks, and you will be rewarded with longevity. All we ask is that you be, or at least appear to be, normal."
Joanna Weiss, Boston Globe: "Even in the midst of an extended public meltdown, he managed to speak some conversation-fodder truths -- about how respected rehabilitation programs sometimes fail to rehabilitate; how Hollywood people coldly use each other for profit; how the celebrity machine lionizes people who don't come close to deserving it," says Weiss. "But he has also demonstrated a certain savvy -- the mark of a seasoned performer who, even in an altered state, knows precisely what the public wants. A big chunk of the TV landscape is built around gawking at the defeated and delusional, whether it's the bad singers who audition for American Idol, the people who admit to hoarding handbags and cats, the women who demean themselves on VH1 dating shows. It's a kind of social contract: We get to think we're better than them because we're "normal,'' and they get to think they're better than us because they're on TV."
Ana Veciana-Suarez, Miami Herald: "Normally, this kind of celebrity slobber is nothing but a silly distraction, but somehow, his very public breakdown has gotten to me. Perhaps it's the 24-7 barrage of Sheen news. Perhaps it's the reminder of Lindsey Lohan, Mel Gibson and the countless other stars who've had it all and thrown it away. Or perhaps it's the simple assurance his example provides that an ordinary life like mine is an extraordinary blessing."
Holman W. Jenkins, Jr., Wall Street Journal: "All's well that ends well. Charlie, your place in TV history is secure. A few years ago everybody said the sitcom was dead, but shooting of sitcoms in L.A. last fall was up an unbelievable 1500%. You and Chuck Lorre did that. Not only did you save the sitcom, you saved it from being dominated by that arch and cinematic stuff they do at NBC, like 30 Rock and The Office. Men revived the true art form, with laugh tracks and everything," Jenkins says. "Funny thing. Folks here have been rereading an interview you gave to an entertainment rag back in 2004 after the show's first season. You said you wanted to do six or seven years and retire for good. Guess what! You're retired for good."