Although it may be good television, I think it’s rather sad witnessing the downfall of a superstar. Seeing Mel Gibson go off in tirades about his wife and Jews, watching the cast of this year’s Celebrity Apprentice verbally abusing each other, and most recently, Charlie Sheen’s gibberish infused rants about “tiger blood” and “winning” while his whole life seems to be crumbling around him. The transformation from an A-list actor to a psychotic slam poet is shocking, but why does it make for good television? Since Charlie Sheen’s no holds barred media blitz he has developed an unprecedented following on Twitter and Facebook. More than 1,000,000 followers on Twitter in less than a week. Reputable companies like Red Cross are now piggy backing off the tidal wave of key words that have become popular since Sheen’s bungee jump off the deep end of sanity. Dave Letterman even named a sandwich after the fallen actor, the Tuna Meltdown. America is fascinated with a superstar’s downfall because it makes normal people feel better about themselves. Will I have the success Michael Jackson had? Hell no! His life seemed to be unachievable, until he was accused of molesting children – then his life became the same as those parishioners in Philadelphia who were quietly asked to step down from their coveted positions two days before Ash Wednesday. People couldn’t stop talking about Britney Spears when she was a bald headed psycho girl slamming umbrellas into car windshields because K Fed wouldn’t let her in the house, but now that she got her groove (and career) back those perfume and clothing companies are thrilled to have her face plastered all over their products.
Shows like TMZ and Rader Online thrive on the self destruction of superstars, and that is because society loves to see a shooting star burn out and supernova itself back down to reality. This makes these seemingly untouchable people with fantasy lives more like you or I. Just imagine if Brad Pitt, George Clooney, or any other cast members from the Oceans 11 movies went off the deep end. They would become fodder for late night television hosts like Conan, Jay, and Dave. I’m not writing this post to chastise people for paying attention to this kind of television. I always watch The Insider and Entertainment Tonight to hear the latest gossip myself, but I can’t help wondering why I’m drawn to this type of news. In Charlie Sheen’s case, maybe it’s because I’ve always been a fan of his work, and seeing him with capped teeth and frazzled hair waving a machete on top of Live Nation’s building in L.A. exemplifies how fame can build you up just to tear you down. Sheen’s story can go one of two ways: The Robert Downey Jr. path where he get rehabilitated, goes on to make many more movies, and once again finds success or the Michael Jackson route where he overdoses and shocks the world with his loss. I personally would like to see Sheen get his life in order, but unfortunately that wouldn’t be good television unless he was on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.