When mental illness goes “Hollywood”

I will admit to making fun of Britney Spears a few years ago. The whole hometown boyfriend Vegas wedding and subsequent split, the Federline wedding that resulted in baby #1 then baby #2, the whoring up and dumbing down of tween girls spurred by their (or their mothers’?) obsession with the Disney pop star…I totally made fun of her.  Britney gave me something to poke fun at, a celebrity who didn’t realize her own decline in cultural popularity, a pop icon who believed that kissing Madonna for shock value would…well, shock us. But she failed to shock us because it’s Madonna.  You can’t out-Madonna Madonna.  Especially when Madonna’s in on the plan.  Big fail.

Another big fail?  When she shaved her head and later went completely apeshit in her own house and became a threat to her own children and the television cameras and papparazzi choppers and everything flying overhead were poised to catch a glimpse of her in her own state of crazy

That’s the exact moment I stopped making fun of Britney Spears.  The poor girl had lost her grip on reality and, as a result, she lost her children and almost lost her career.  She lost a legion of fans who found her out, who discovered she was just as human as they were, and they didn’t like that.  Now Britney’s a has-been who has to work harder to gain back just a smidgen of what she once had.  I don’t make fun of Britney Spears anymore.

Yet…here we are, doing the same thing to Charlie Sheen.  I am guilty of it. I shared a link on my Facebook page a few days ago of a blog featured here on WordPress’ Freshly Pressed.  A blog that simply showed photographs of cats in various stages of disgust, surprise, and cuddles  accompanied by the now infamous words of Sheen’s crazy ass tirade from last week. 

But that was last week!  Why are we still making fun of him this week?  People, have you heard what comes out of this man’s mouth? And that’s just what we hear…who knows what’s still in his head that hasn’t quite passed through the filter in his brain yet!  That is what’s so scary.

This isn’t funny anymore.  Charlie Sheen has lost his marbles.  He thinks he’s different, but not in the way we, as adults, teach children they are different and special and unique in our desire to raise a kid’s self-esteem and self-acceptance.  Different as in more than human, better than you and me and everyone else on this planet.  We don’t  get him,  we never will.  We can’t process this.  His brain is not like ours, he believes.  Nah…ya don’t say?

If this was your loved one, your best friend, your parent or spouse or, god forbid, your child – would you allow the world to conduct interviews with him without speaking out against it?  The news stations (local, national, and entertainment – magazine) are pimping out Charlie Sheen as their TOP STORY!

You won’t believe what he does next! – they all say that.  And yes, I  can  believe what he’ll do next because he’s not well.  He is not portraying Charlie from Two and a Half Men, the alcoholic playboy.  This is Charlie Sheen.  He has children and a family and a famous father and brother and we’re all watching him. He’s becoming very dangerous.  And he’s slipping…

I just find this disturbing.  I have friends who are bipolar and I have a personal connection to someone genetically primed to develop schizophrenia.  How is this remotely funny?  Joaquin Phoenix passing himself off as a crazy person on a late-night talk show is not the same as Joaquin Phoenix being exploited as a crazy person on a late-night talk show.  There was talk that Phoenix’s character was exactly that…a character.  Charlie Sheen is not superhuman, he is not able to cure himself with his own brain, and he certainly should not be the butt of jokes when what he really needs, whether he notices it or not, is some compassion and direction. 

Isn’t it ironic that films like Rain Man and Sling Blade all won Academy Awards for writing, directing, Best Picture, whatever…it’s good to be a Hollywood executive when you’re raking in the dough pretending to be all about bringing awareness and telling a story and putting a face on mental illness through motion pictures and multimillion dollar film deals.  Yet here we are faced with being witness to the downward plunge of one of the most beloved and troubled actors of our generation and all we can do is stand by and laugh? 

Nice.  Reeeal nice.


About Dena

I'm a suburban Clevelander by way of Oklahoma City, by way of North Florida, by way of Southern Maryland, by way of Upper Michigan, by way of Northern Italy, by way of Lower Michigan, by way of Texas. Because of living in so many places, I have something in common with almost everyone I meet. I love reading, writing, and American history (especially reading or writing about American history). I'm interested in culture of place, historical trauma, and writing about the kinds of histories most people don't know about.
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4 Responses to When mental illness goes “Hollywood”

  1. S says:

    I think you’ve made a really good point there. Very often when it’s all too easy to judge or to point and laugh, I try to remember that the person I’m tempted to ridicule was somebody’s baby once, that they’re someone’s brother, or mother, or partner… As someone who has close relationships with people others may not understand, it strikes me that someone could just as easily laugh at the person I love. It always stops me in my tracks.

  2. Sra says:

    Can’t out-Madonna Madonna — love it! I get what you’re saying here, but what is the alternative to all pointing our fingers and saying, look at all the crazy shit this guy’s saying now! Do we ignore it?

    When Lindsay Lohan first when insane, I actually felt really bad for her, and was overall supportive in my hope that she would recover. She clearly hasn’t, and at what point is enough enough? But can’t you be supportive of someone and still call out their behavior as crazy?

    • Dena says:

      I see what you’re saying – I think it’s more than calling them out on their behavior. It’s like we’re making fun of it…I mean, I did! But that’s when I really just thought he was being a major jerk. Now I hear more of what he says and how he thinks and it’s quite terrifying.

  3. Debbie says:

    Well said as always Dena, these people have family and an illness and are being exploited… So Sad and not entertainment….

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