by Ariel Strasser
“Tiger blood” and “winning”, two phrases coined by Charlie Sheen between when he was fired from his star acting role in CBS’s sitcom entitled Two and a Half Men and when the lawsuit between him and its creator/producer Chuck Lorre was settled (Elber, 2011). Charlie Harper, his character in the show, lived a life full of alcohol and shameless sex. Even so, Sheen’s “bad boy antics bought him as much fame as films like Lucas and Hot Shots” (Charlie sheen biography, 2011). He was fired in March 2011 after the antics he portrayed in character slowly became more pronounced in his personal life, thus affecting his livelihood and his work ethic as an actor (“Charlie sheen makes,” 2011). Conveniently, he was “fired at a time when he was the highest-paid actor in television, with a per-episode salary reported to be between $1.2 million and $2 million” (McCartney, 2011). Sheen was only paid for 16 out of 24 episodes, meaning that 8 of the episodes that would have been aired had he not been fired were cancelled (The Wrap, 2011).
Following his dismissal, Sheen and his attorney Marty Singer filed a $100 million law suit against Warner Brothers and Chuck Lorre, accusing them of breaking his contract, which paid him a reported $1.2 million an episode (“Charlie sheen makes,” 2011). Why is it that the sum of money that he would have made from the cancelled episodes does not add up to the $100 million that he was suing for? If an average person gets fired from his job, especially for the same reasons as in the case of Sheen, it is not common to follow up with a lawsuit, suing his ex-employer.
According to Elizabeth Soja, “changing social mores could affect how certain sexual conduct is viewed by the community, and that what was defamatory at one time may no longer be the case” (Soja, 2007). She would say that Charlie Sheen’s activities both on screen and in his personal life have become an expected normality in celebrity culture, unfortunately. Sheen also uses his attitude and sexuality to sell himself to both the public and to casting directors.
Lately, it has been his sense of humor that has been his selling-point. He toured a live show called “My Torpedo of Truth: Defeat is Not an Option” (Dobuzinskis, 2011). Sheen, supposedly going through drug withdrawal, “lobbed verbal attacks against both Warner Bros. and Lorre” (“Sheen, studio settle,” 2011). On their website, TMZ launched an MP3 file of a conversation Charlie had with his friend, and radio announcer, Alex Jones (HVENTERTAINMENT, 2011). This, along with a few YouTube videos of interviews that were featured on TV, is ultimately what helped him retain his fame throughout this low period in his life. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Chuck Lorre was also talking down to Sheen. On February 14, 2011, Lorre claimed:
“I exercise regularly. I eat moderate amounts of healthy food. I make sure to get plenty of rest. I see my doctor once a year and my dentist twice a year. I floss every night. I’ve had chest x–rays, cardio stress tests, EKGs and colonoscopies. I see a psychologist and have a variety of hobbies to reduce stress. I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I don’t do drugs. I don’t have crazy, reckless sex with strangers. If Charlie Sheen outlives me, I’m gonna be really pissed.” (Murphy, 2011)
Using this statement, it is not difficult to compare the lifestyles of this producer and Sheen.
When the lawsuit was resolved “to the parties mutual satisfaction…[they]…agreed to maintain confidentiality over the terms of the settlement” (“Charlie sheen makes,” 2011). Sheen reportedly received $25 million, which is expected to “spiral to $100 million in syndication profits over the next decade” (Corneau, 2011). Even so, the dispute between the two was quite prominent in the media the entire way through. The “tabloidization” of cases such as this “tends to be scandalous, salacious and potentially damaging for its subjects” (Turner, 2004, p. 73). The media seem to dig and dig into a case until they get the right story to make the headline. “Screamers” flash across the fronts of magazines like OK and the National Enquirer with the most recent celebrity news, since they are clearly fair game (Turner, 2004, p. 73). But as society’s perception…changes, so do the standards….” (Soja, 2007). “The show [was] the most-watched comedy in prime time averaging 15.2 million viewers” (“Sorry, charlie, cbc,” 2011). Because of his insulting videos, interviews and roasts towards the cast and crew of Two and a Half Men, Charlie Sheen’s celebrity and fame were emphasized that much more in the media. Charlie Sheen has such a huge fanbase and is prominent-enough a celebrity, that no matter what he did, what he said or who he sued, his fame and name are still recognized and idolized.
In an attempt to calm the discussion about his sanity and state of mind, during his comedy tour Charlie Sheen said that he “regrets claiming he had “tiger blood” and “Adonis DNA,” calling them jokes and metaphors that he never really believed” (Elber, 2011). Also, during the Emmy Awards in late 2011, he apologized to the cast and crew: “From the bottom of my heart, I wish you nothing but the best for this upcoming season. We spent eight wonderful years together, and I know you will continue to make great television” (The Wrap, 2011). In addition, Charlie “told Jay Leno that he would have fired himself, given his behavior” (Dobuzinskis, 2011). By ending the fired-up lawsuit on a positive note, Charlie resolidified his fame and likeness as an apologetic, appreciative star and a “winner”.
But does suing your ex-boss after being fired and going on an insulting and crazy rampage saying you have “tiger blood” and “Adonis DNA” make you a “winner”? Does calling yourself a winner make you a “winner”? Clearly, if Charlie Sheen still has fans after all of the shenanigans he was publically criticized for, there has been a shift in the morals and points of view of society, and not for the better.
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Dobuzinskis, A. (2011, September 19). Update 1-sheen, warner bros. near deal on “men” lawsuit. Reuters. Retrieved from http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/19/television-charliesheen-idUSS1E78I24120110919
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