Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.
Here I am, watching Charlie Sheen's psychotic break -- live on tape on Ustream -- and I can't turn away, which would be decent. No, instead, I'm sitting here transfixed as he rants and raves to a sycophantic Baba Booey, the Howard Stern sidekick and executive producer, resplendent in his bed hair, 12 o'clock-the-next-day shadow and snorting a cigarette like it's a line of Colombia's finest.
What I seem to be doing is watching a suicide for my own amusement. I -- we -- may be sicker than the man ranting for the camera about his "tiger blood."
In my defense, feeble as that might be, this is the cultural moment you can't ignore. I'm not entirely sure what that moment is yet, but I know Charlie Sheen is a metaphor for the rest of us -- for our Western society -- in some important manner.
HE'LL END UP blowing his own brains out live for the camera . . . on Ustream. We'll think it's "epic."
Because we're "winners."
Of course, this presupposes that "winner" has been defined down to "Someone who congratulates himself on how clever he is while thinking of ways to leverage a drug-damaged madman's prolonged public suicide into higher brand visibility and a significant profit-making opportunity."
Hey, Charlie! Lookin' good! Dead yet? No?
Duh . . . winning! Let me tweet that. Get the latest update up on my website.
Make sure to make fun of the screwing-a-porn-star thing. That's safe enough. Not that we object to that, necessarily. It's just we know we won't get the chance, so what the hell, you know?
Because we're winners. And Charlie Sheen is a deluded . . . loo-serrrr!
YEAH, Sheen is a loser. But that doesn't make us "winners." We just don't have the fame and the cash to be an "epic" loser.
Unless, of course, you step back and look at us on a societal level. Together, we're "epic." And Charlie Sheen, when you look at it that way, isn't just a train wreck, he's a metaphor. For us.
When you look at all the stats and all the trends and all the crime reports and all the lives of quiet desperation . . . when you look at all the undone husbands and Real Housewives of Exurbia . . . when you look at stressed-out, sexed-out, maxed-out teenagers who decide to check out in alarming numbers . . . when you look at bling and "haters" and paranoiac commentators . . . when you look at all that, Charlie Sheen starts to look a lot more normal.
This is not a good thing.
Carlos Estevez is us. All the immaturity of us, all the lust of us, all the superficiality of us, all the drinking and drugging and bacchanal of us, all the self-importance of us and all the pettiness and madness of us, writ small enough for some voyeur sitting in front of his computer screen to get his little mind around.
Charlie Sheen is a metaphor.
Charlie Sheen is a symptom.
The problem is us.