So, I watched Comedy Central's "Roast of Charlie Sheen" the other night, in the company of my 17 year old. And I'll admit right here, in front of all 17 of you and God, that I laughed. I laughed my ass off. I laughed, my son laughed, we looked at each other and laughed in unison.
I posted on facebook about it, and "watched" it with a couple of my good friends, commenting and chatting about it as it progressed.
And after it was over, I found myself thinking, "Wow. That Charlie Sheen. What a survivor!". I began to understand why so many people love the man, loved him on Two and Half Men for so many years, and refused to jump the Sheen ship when he went apeshit.
The next day I felt kind of dirty, like I used to feel when I'd do the walk of shame home from one of my Nights Of Bad Choices back in my twenties. I felt like I'd rubbed up against someone at a concert or in a crowded bar, and picked up not only a really bad vibe but quite possibly an STD as well.
I didn't feel this way because of the sheer brutality of some jokes that were said during the roast. Sure, the one directed at Steve O. about the death of his friend, Ryan Dunn, made me cringe. I actually felt sorry for him at that moment. I wasn't filled with shame because of the fact that innocent people were dragged into the roast, people who weren't there to defend themselves (hello? Suggesting that Sheen's kids are destined for a life of 12 stepping?). There was a joke about Casey Anthony that killed any brevity, that made me instantly dislike the guy who told it, but that wasn't what made me feel so very icky.
It was the dawning realization that I had participated in what boiled down to a glorification of a criminal. A repugnant, vicious, abusive, criminal. Sure, he was being raked over the coals, every single skeleton in his closet was dragged out, bleached and left to dry under the spotlights.
But in the end, every one of those people on there closed their bit by saying how much they loved Charlie Sheen. What a great guy he was, what an inspiration, a stand out. A man among men.
And that's just wrong.
I felt bad because of the double message I was giving my 17 year old, what he was gleaning from this very public spectacle. I tell my boys, at every chance I get, to be good men. To be men who are kind, and gentle, and understanding. To be men who love women and treat them with respect at all times.
And here we sat, watching a man who has abused at least two women, abused to the point of injury and criminal charges, being almost worshiped. In fact, his last wife was sitting in the audience, watching and laughing along at jokes about how "she's not very bright. Unless Charlie is throwing a lamp at her head."
I wasn't physically abused by my ex-husband, I will clarify that right now. But, I will go out on a limb and say that some of what he's pulled over the past few years would definitely be classified as emotional abuse. The cheating, the lying, the time he came back and said all was well in our world and then left...the hiding of money, the refusal to pay child support. Calling me names in front of our kids, making fun of my weight, my family....making fun of ME. That hurts. Not as much as a punch in the eye would, or as much as having a knife held to my throat would, but still. It hurt. I can't imagine sitting in a crowd, laughing along while comedians joked about "that time you had to cash in your kids' savings bonds to buy groceries" or "remember when he sneaked into your room at 2 a.m. and started crying about what a mistake he'd made? That was awesome" or "how about the time your son came home, crying, because Secretary had pulled his hair. That explains the buzz cuts!". No, I can't imagine.
Charlie Sheen abused his last wife, Brooke Mueller, by putting his hands around her neck and then pulling a knife out and holding it to her throat. While he did that, he supposedly said, "You'd better be in fear of me. Tell anybody and I'll kill you."
His second wife, Denise Richards, had a restraining order against him. In that order, she described how Sheen had pushed her down, thrown chairs at her and threatened to kill her.
And last fall, as he was just about to embark on his very public nervous breakdown, he apparently tried to strangle a call girl and threatened her in a hotel room. While his ex-wife Denise, and their two daughters, slept just a few doors down.
We also can't forget the years of acknowledged drug use, the alcohol abuse, the solicitation of more prostitutes than Dr. Drew could ever dream of rehabbing, and the general "bad character" behavior he exhibited.
While all of this was going on, he was being hired, and being paid huge amounts of money by the bigwigs in Hollywood. He was, as they say, coated with Teflon. Nothing he did or said seemed to hurt him.
Until he upset his boss. That was the straw that broke the moneyed camel's back. Not the fact that he hurt the women he supposedly loved, not the fact that he unabashedly participated in the prostitution of young women, or the fact that he did some of this while in the presence of his children.
Charlie Sheen was called out because he insulted his boss, Chuck Lorre. Not saying that what he said and implied to Mr. Lorre is anything less than wrong, but why was it that single act that resulted in his escort out the door of Hollywood? Why didn't anyone who worked at Two and A Half Men ever call him out on his previous behavior? I just started watching that show, and you can literally see his decline. In the last season I've been watching, he spends most of the show sitting cross-legged on the couch, face gaunt, spindly arms crossed in front of him. The man was very obviously not well.
We all know the story, it's not only a dead horse by now, it's a pile of bones that used to be a horse. No use in beating it anymore.
But here he is again, rising from the still-smouldering ashes of his career. And here we are, applauding him, laughing with him, doing the "aw shucks, he ain't so bad" water cooler talks.
And there I was, with my 17 year old son, laughing along with Charlie Sheen and the assorted B-listers who stood up to roast him. Telling my son, in so many words, that what Charlie Sheen did in the past was ok. That you can do vile things, horrible things, and in the end, get paid to sit on a stage and field insults.
Charlie Sheen is the one who did all those bad things. Why am I the one who feels guilty?