Will this post about Charlie Sheen get 1,000,000 views?

5 Mar

Is this picture hot enough to get more clicks?

That seems to be everyone else’s strategy for good ratings this week. Why should we miss out on the fun? Despite not having seen a movie he’s starred in since the early 90’s and having only watched (ironically) half of an episode of his recently cancelled hit sitcom, I feel, through media osmosis, suddenly expert on this week’s candidate for the Robert Downey, Jr. Celebrity Train Wreck Award.

I understand the public fascination with celebrity and disasters, so when someone embodies both of them it is no surprise that he’ll get a lot of air time. From the snippets I’ve read, Sheen has also been very quotable and colorful in his public breakdown, providing a huge number of juicy soundbites. I expect the big media noise machine to make the most of something like this for a week or so.  (Three interviews on the Today show in one week does seem like overkill even for this story, however.) What baffles me is how pervasive this story is.

I subscribe to fifteen separate feeds from blogs and other online resources. They focus on politics, gay rights, comics, libraries, and social justice. Not one is a popular culture or big media resource. Nevertheless, eleven of these sources have posted a Charlie Sheen story in the past 48 hours. I find this fascinating and disturbing. Sadly, it seems that most of these stories have had only the weakest of connections with Sheen.

Is using his name a shallow ploy for traffic? Is he so much a part of the culture of the moment that we can’t help ourselves? If Sheen’s antics can provide a life lesson or a valid illustration which is relevant to your thesis, using a popular figure for emphasis makes sense. If, as with the Comic Alliance, you can achieve something truly hilarious, then go for it. But Sheening for ratings seems alarmingly shallow and cynical.

A couple of months ago, I expressed my dismay that the media were more interested in Barbara Walters getting Oprah to cry than in blatant goverment censorship of art. Just for fun, let’s visit Google news on a few topics of the day:

Need I say more?

11 Responses to “Will this post about Charlie Sheen get 1,000,000 views?”

  1. Tom Capuson March 5, 2011 at 10:11 am #

    What a Hoot. I am tired of Sheen & I Pray for the rest of the Cast.

  2. Jennifer March 5, 2011 at 11:45 am #

    What I find so troubling about the Charlie Sheen phenomenon is that people are joining in and openly mocking this person who is clearly very, very sick. There are also *five* children involved (people often forget that his the father of five children). He clearly needs help. Mocking and provoking are shameful.

    • rhulshofschmidt March 5, 2011 at 12:05 pm #

      The point about his children is well made, Jen. I still can’t understand why his set of antics has gone so viral, moreso than other celebrity mishaps and breakdowns in the past year or so.

  3. webwordwarrior March 5, 2011 at 12:32 pm #

    I was alarmed to see the former Carlos Irwin Estevez on TSM, but you’ve done a marvelous job of showing how celebrity too often trumps substance. Sheen doesn’t deserve more views, but this analysis certainly does.

    • rhulshofschmidt March 5, 2011 at 12:36 pm #

      Thanks, Lex. I almost drowned in the irony of the post but finally found my thesis. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  4. combscp March 5, 2011 at 12:36 pm #

    I find it interesting that Hillary Clinton picked this week to testify in front of Congress slamming American media and praising Al Jazeera. Somehow, I doubt that if I streamed Al Jazeera English online (hopefully soon we can all just watch it on TV) their top story would be Sheen-related. Entertainment sells. I won’t lie, I have had a lot of fun at http://www.livethesheendream.com/ this week. I find this trainwreck strangely entertaining, but if you turn on the news you’d almost think nothing else was going on in the world.

    • rhulshofschmidt March 5, 2011 at 12:44 pm #

      Very nice connection, Cory. The timing of Secretary Clinton’s comments is delightful.

  5. Jay March 6, 2011 at 3:43 pm #

    Lindsay Lohan, Paula Abdul and Susan Boyle need to join Charlie’s troupe of ‘goddesses’. They could take their show on the road and perform musical, gender-bending re-interpretations of Wall Street and Platoon.

    • rhulshofschmidt March 6, 2011 at 3:50 pm #

      If I wake up screaming because of this image, expect a phone call…

  6. Jay March 6, 2011 at 9:12 pm #

    A small measure of payback for an oily Travolta incident.

  7. DP March 7, 2011 at 7:11 am #

    Charlie Sheen is awesome.


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