Charlie Sheen, fired from Two and a Half Men after a well-publicized anti-Semitic rant and subsequent disaster of a tour, will be starring in a new tv series called “Anger Management.” How appropriate. He has managed to turn his anger issues into a multimillion dollar television contract. I am just relieved he’ll be able to keep his “goddesses” in the manner to which they have become accustomed. But the larger lesson of Sheen is the willingness of Hollywood ‘” and all of us ‘” to forgive and forget atrocious behavior by male stars.
Sheen’s new television series is based on the 2003 film. In the film Adam Sandler played a man who in anger management counseling with a therapist (Jack Nicholson) who also has anger issues. Given Sheen’s infamous meltdown against Chuck Lorre, writer of “Two and a Half Men,” and his “Violent Torpedo of Truth” tour, this seems like the perfect vehicle for Sheen. Oddly, this is his response: “I chose Anger Management because, while it might be a big stretch for me to play a guy with serious anger management issues, I think it’s a great concept.” Seriously? “A big stretch”? Unless this is an attempt at sarcasm, Sheen has not gained any self-awareness over the last year or so.
But what is more disturbing is the lack of repercussions for a man who has been out of control for several years. His drug and alcohol use is an open secret. His (at best) questionable stance on race, ethnicity and religion is equally well-known. His children were taken from him but he seems completely content to console himself with a variety of female companions. He lost his job on “Two and a Half Men” but has remained in the public eye, and continued to receive huge paydays courtesy of his tour and other appearances. Certainly, Sheen is not the first celebrity to maintain a career after (and during) substance abuse issues. We only have to look to Robert Downey, Jr. whose drug tribulations almost cost him his own career. Downey, Jr. has managed to survive in Hollywood and (hopefully) has finally put his addictions behind him. Mel Gibson, despite anti-Semitic rants of his own, continues to be a Hollywood powerhouse. What is interesting is the disparity between the treatment of women and men of Hollywood. For example, Carrie Fisher and Mackenzie Phillips suffered serious career setbacks due to their drug addictions. But their male counterparts ‘” after displaying issues beyond “simple” drug addiction ‘” have bounced back. And, of course, females in Hollywood fare much worse as they age or gain weight. Just look at the continuing derision facing Kirstie Alley.
But Sheen appears immune to the criticism. In fact, it seems to drive him, to make him stronger like some mutant super hero tv star. And he has ridden the wave of criticism all the way to a new show. What will happen to those co-stars (Jon Cryer and Angus T. Jones) he’s left behind at “Two and a Half Men”? Not to worry ‘” Ashton Kutcher is stepping into the breach come September. While the script has not been finalized, it appears that ‘” at least on-screen ‘” Uncle Charlie is getting his come-uppance and will be killed off. Sheen, of course, is having the last laugh. Those t-shirts that say “Winning” have never seemed so appropriate.