Forget About Charlie Sheen and Read a Book

Boy do I not care about what Charlie Sheen is up to.

I am not what you’d call “plugged in”. Not even close. I’m so unplugged I’ve been sitting in the driveway on cinderblocks with weeds growing through my floorboards. We’re talking dead battery, strip my parts, call 1-800-KARS-4-KIDS. I don’t read the rumor rags, I don’t watch Entertainment Tonight, I don’t follow anyone on Twitter or subscribe to any star’s blog. The closest I get to the “star system” is going on the Tosh.O website to participate in the funny caption challenge. I haven’t won yet, but my entry is always better than the one that wins. If some cultural phenomenon somehow trickles down to my level, it has completely and utterly dominated the public imagination for weeks on end.

Here’s what I gathered about Charlie Sheen. He pays for sex a lot even though he was or is married to someone supposedly attractive (I’ve never seen her) and he has kids (or maybe not) which makes it worse. And he does a truckload of coke. Imagine the most amount of coke you could ever do in a lifetime and that’s Charlie’s average weekend. Despite these peccadilloes, he is somehow charismatic enough to continue to land roles in forgettable movies or unfunny sitcoms. Either that or people owe his Dad a favor. Whatever it is, he’s able to earn enough scratch to continue his whoring and coking indefinitely. At this point his behavior is so predictable he has a bed pre-ordered for him at Betty Ford every Monday after a three-day weekend for the next two calendar years, dependent on whether he lives that long.

So…he’s an addict who happens to be the son of a famous actor. Why are we still talking about him? Because we (and by “we” I mean “people other than myself”) are obsessed with these bubble-headed idiots who happen to appear in our entertainment. When Shakespeare was writing, being an actor was considered the lowest form of employment one could have, on par with prostitution. People spit at them in the streets and threw rotten fruit at them while they were working. Just imagine the pummeling the cast of “My Two Freakin’ Dads” would get!  But that was the 1600s, and although the sewage system has vastly improved, treatment of actors has decidedly changed for the worse. Now we have an entire rack of publications dedicated to nothing but unearthing the minutia of entertainers’ lives. Next time you’re checking out at the supermarket, count how many gossip mags there are compared to newspapers. It’s like five to one, conservatively. No wonder we elected Dubya. Twice…

But at least these rags are well written, non-exploitative and committed to journalistic integrity.

I’ll just let that statement hang there for a minute, like a dark, scuz-filled, cloud. Does it bother anyone else that the overwhelming majority of our nation knows more about Angelina Jolie’s next adoption then they do about, say, the state of public education? I’ll give a brief synopsis for those of you who have been busy scanning the story about the three-eyed baby—if our kids don’t read more, they’ll end up standing in line at some grocery store, looking at the before and after pictures of Jennifer Aniston with all the funny little symbols underneath, because even a third-grade reading level will be too difficult for them. “It’s the damn teachers’ fault, not educating our children. Honey, will you pass me my magazine?” “Which one Mama?” “The Enquirer, baby. It’s beneath Star, People and Globe and on top of Us Weekly.”

TV is just as dumb downing. It’s hard to name a wide receiver in the NFL who DOESN’T have a reality show. And God forbid they’re giving out an award somewhere. We get bombarded with hours and hours of coverage of people in tuxedos and fancy dresses getting out of limousines. Then we go online and read the story about the red carpet parade. Then we get a magazine and look at unflattering pictures of the stars, with superficial little stories about who pissed off who, and who looked like she dressed in a dark closet, and what feud erupted at the after party. It’s like high school, only everybody’s better looking and there aren’t any skin issues. The whole thing makes me want to hurl. I really don’t have the time or the inclination to care about people I have never met and most probably never will. I met Dianne Wiest once. She was lovely and gracious, and I told her I liked her work, which I do. That was the extent of it. If it was 1650 I probably would have spit at her.

These people are just people, and it’s our own fault if we buy any BS from publicists that suggest otherwise. They’re frequently rich and sometimes spoiled people, and some are mature and some are runaway trains who wreck their marriages, their lives and the people around them. They got lucky or they’re talented or both, and now they’re in the spotlight. But we have the choice whether or not to look at them. Have you ever been stuck in a traffic jam and thought man, we wouldn’t be in this jam if the people in front would just drive faster. It’s not as easy as all that, of course, but I still find myself thinking “man, if we all just stopped reading about these people, all those magazines and websites and TV shows would just shrivel up and die.” Maybe people would have more money to go see a play. Just don’t bring fruit, it’s not allowed anymore.

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    • Joel Flowers
    • March 3rd, 2011

    This country has just about hit rock bottom on the Dumbed Down scale. Except for Justin Beaver, of course….

  1. That last name is the closest he’ll ever get to one. Whoa! Who said that?

    • Joel Flowers
    • March 4th, 2011

    Are you kidding?! I think he HAS one!

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