The Last Word on Charlie Sheen
There But for the Grace of God Go You


Suppose, at birth, your parents named you Carlos Irwin.  Born in New York City, you had a setup that a majority of Americans would sacrifice their spleen for on the altar of envy.   You were the youngest son of a famous actor and a famous artist.  Like all enviable families, yours moved to Malibu, California.  There you, the young Carlos, with your family’s help, became famous, too.

While your father arranged for your appearance in Hollywood films, you made Super 8 movies at Santa Monica High School with your brother Emilio and your buds Rob Lowe and Sean Penn. A few weeks before graduation, you, Carlos, were expelled for ditching class and crap grades. But when you’re a fortunate son, those things don’t effect the outcome of the script. We all laughed at the inconvenience.

For you, the storyline was golden. One easy direction was to capitalize on the family name (be that as it may) to become an actor.  And so you took it.  I think we all would have.  That’s when you changed your name from Carlos to Charlie and took the same last name that your Dad had taken to honor Catholic archbishop Fulton J. Sheen who gained his fame and fortune warning others of the evils of Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx and, of course, Satan — a fine pedigree for the upcoming Charlie star.

You, Charlie Sheen, were born into the thing we have been taught — through all the airwaves — to desire most:  fame and fortune.  As if by providence you became famous and fortune-bound in films like Major League, Hot Shots! and Scary Movies 3 and 4 — not the upper crust of cinema, but a cash monkey that screamed your name out loud.  It was a great gig.  Everywhere you went, you were Charlie, now.  On television’s Spin City you were Charlie Crawford and on Two and a Half Men you were Charlie Harper.

Charlie, Charlie, Charlie.  You were a hit.  The Guinness World record for highest paid TV actor is yours.  You and gorgeous women.  You and your Mercedes that somehow get stolen or driven off cliffs.  You and your priciest Hollywood madame. You and your drugs.  You and your goddesses  — or should I say, your three-way living arrangement with benefits with a porn star and a model. The possibilities were immense in a screwed up nihilistic way. They called you bad boy.  Which pretty much means no matter how bad you were, you got away with it because you were the number one Charlie on the list.

Just like every other 21st century icon of ironic cultural collapse, you had nearly everything and you wanted more.   So, you wanted more sex. You wanted more drugs. You wanted more fame. You wanted more money. And like our Zeitgeist tells us, whatever we have is never enough.

But apparently, you went too far.  Poor, poor, Charlie. You wanted too much of too much.  And now that you have it, we want to see you destroyed.  Why?  Because we want to destroy ourselves — too much.  You can see it in our eyes.  We want too much of too much, too. Just like you.

Now, suppose we could stop this thing.  Focus on what’s in balance.  Give up the Koyaanisqatsi.  Stop thinking about too much too much and get it right.  We could.  But it looks like we won’t. 

Which leaves us, at least, an opportunity to give thanks — give thanks to the Charlie in all of us for giving us a show and letting us know how bad we are.

— Nathan Callahan

First Broadcast April 15, 2011

© / Nathan Callahan / all rights reserved


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