I confess. I watched the TV special with Charlie Sheen. It was my guilty pleasure tabloid moment for the week. And all I was left with was a sense of heartbreak and the knowledge that the person I had liked to watch on film was as much of an illusion as the story lines of his projects. Perhaps most of all to himself.
How do you begin to understand someone who says he has “Tiger’s blood and Adonis’ DNA and a brain not of our terrestrial plain”? What sense can you make of someone who rants and riffs while chain smoking, defiantly NOT apologizing for his life? This fallen prince, the charming and winsome bad boy of prime time and beyond is dying by degrees in front of our eyes, on a special broadcast. What lesson are we supposed to take away from what we are seeing?
What I saw was bottomless pain, overweening bravado, the last desperate pass a bull makes at the bullfighter in the ring. Rejection of the love and caring extended by his family and friends. Denial as an art form. Edvard Munch’s vision, terrifyingly come to life, complete with sound bites. A sad little boy.
Watching tragedies is something we all ask “Why do we do it”, but we all do it anyway. We are drawn to train wrecks in everyday life. We slow down to look at accidents on the highway – or even just someone getting a ticket. If we didn’t have this impulse, movies like “The Towering Inferno” would have won Razzies instead of Oscars. We are all guilty of making a point of watching disasters, whenever and wherever we see them.
We heave a sigh of relief, that our life isn’t in that space and point in time, and then we express our opinons. And everyone has one. Some people defend Charlie’s right to party and burn out, rather than fade away. Some people condemn him. Some people try to analyze him. We all have a point to make about Good Time Charlie.
Bonny Prince Charlie doesn’t want our opinions, or our judgments. Perhaps all he wants is to be loved. And perhaps all we can learn from him is the wrong way to earn it. Poor Charlie, it seems we hardly knew ye.
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