My sister is a fan of Charlie Sheen. Without going into the spasmatic lecture I gave her upon discovering this fact, I’ll touch on the subject that we finally progressed to after giving her defense: does an entertainer’s personal life affect how we look at their work? My sister is a fan of Charlie Sheen, the actor – not Charlie Sheen, the abominable scumbag. But with his unapologetic hedonistic and abusive past, can I really watch the guy act for my amusement and support him?
I can’t stand Two and a Half Men anyway, so that entire concept of sitcom Charlie Sheen is lost on me. What performances I can recall – the junkie from Ferris Bueller, the marine with chicken pox and oven mitts in Friends, and Patrick Swayze’s (RIP) little brother from Red Dawn – aren’t groundbreaking or memorable. He is more famous for his real-life recklessness than his CV, and is now advertising a failed attempt at a new show by smugly acknowledging his incendiary status.
(Speaking of Sheen’s new show, Anger Management, check out Asawin Suebsaeng’s biting review at Mother Jones.)
I cannot separate Charlie Sheen’s career from his personal life that he gladly parades. I just can’t! And this sentiment carries over to my opinions of other entertainers whose images are now tarnished by their own wrongdoings. The credibility of both Chris Brown and Mel Gibson is vapor to me now. I can’t enjoy a Chris Brown song, and I’m constantly making a sour face throughout Lethal Weapon.
Roman Polanski is a remarkable director, but I refused to jump on the bandwagon that the artsy elite set off in defense of him drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl. His work precedes him, as watching his masterpieces Chinatown and Repulsion can be morally draining.
Respect is at the heart of admiration. If you reek of slime and beat your girlfriend, I cannot respect you enough to support the work you are encouraging me to love. We all search for relatability in our artists, to find a kinship in their nature or to aspire to their level of prestige. If their humanity is hollow, the critics may still side with their artistry and talent, but I can’t find heart in their performances.
For a troublesome celebrity, can you separate the actor from the wrongdoer? Which celebrities do you have an aversion to because of their real-life problems?