When the news broke Charlie Sheen’s latest…well, Charlie Sheen moment…I was one of the many people who appreciated sage wisdom like “sorry my life is so much more bitchin’ than yours. I planned it that way.” My boyfriend and I snarked to one another in Google chat while I franticly refreshed Live The Sheen Dream for more coke-addled quotations. Within moments, I stumbled upon a selection from his most unsettling quote: “[a]nd you know, one of my favorite poets is Eminem. One of the smartest cats alive. He’s what inspires me, you know. He inspires me to stay violent.”
Cue record scratch here.
When initially saw the selection, I couldn’t wrap my brain around it. Yes, the same Eminem who wrote “Kim” is the same guy Charlie Sheen considers “one of [his] favorite poets….[who] inspires [him] to stay violent.” (Be warned: if you aren’t familiar with the song, it’s about an abusive relationship told from an abuser’s point of view and gives a pretty clear picture of the terror that battered spouses/partners experience.)
I’m not sure that irony is the correct word here, but there’s something a bit off-putting about the Eminem statement, especially in light of Sheen’s prior domestic violence allegations and convictions. Look, I know that a complete lack of self-awareness is not exactly unchartered territory for The World According to Charlie Sheen. But y’know, there is something incredibly disturbing, unsettling, and so absurdly surreal about that quote combined with Sheen’s personal life.
Personally, I’m one of those folks who thinks that art should reflect even the darkest parts of humanity, make us uncomfortable, push our boundaries, all that pretentious nonsense. I want to emphasize this because I realize that by discussing violence in entertainment, I’m opening myself up for accusations of wanting to bring back the PMRC. For the record, I don’t support governmental censorship in any form; part of the reason Sheen’s statement frustrates me so much is because it’s begging to be twisted into an argument supporting censorship. I am also well aware that Sheen has recently given some generic “wife beating is bad” statements to CNN. While it is possible that Sheen may have had a sudden change of heart, I find it very difficult to believe. Keep in mind that his most recent domestic violence case was settled less than a year ago with a plea bargain that would put him into rehab and counseling instead of jail. Given Sheen’s public views on both rehab and therapy, I don’t think you can blame me for assuming the plea was nothing but a ploy to get out of jail.
You may agree with Sheen’s views on rehab, the government, 9/11, or therapy. You know what they say: even a broken Charlie Sheen is right two times a day. The thing is, a changed man who cured himself through “winning” doesn’t gleefully proclaim that a rapper “inspires [him] to stay violent.” How on Earth can he reconcile that quote and his wife beating past with his recent “denouncing” of domestic violence? Furthermore, isn’t it pretty contradictory to treat a guy who regularly violates the NAP as an amazing asset for the liberty movement? Freedom, liberty, and non-aggression should all include an active, aggressive anti-intimate abuse stance.
I have this nagging feeling that beneath Sheen’s aging bad boy veneer, his cliched Hollywood vices, and his erratic yet charismatic behavior, there’s a real life “Kim” waiting to explode. Even if I’m wrong and Sheen isn’t an Ira Einhorn in the making, there’s still a major flaw in the “Charlie Sheen loves freedom” meme. I don’t care how heavily he denounces AA or the government, a man who doesn’t care about his spouse or partner’s personal freedom is no ally of mine. Label me a feminazi if you must — and trust me, I’ll be sure to Tweet you when I decide to invade Poland with copies of The Feminine Mystique — but I’m just a little uppity when it comes to my freedom to not be assaulted.
If you respect Sheen’s views on politics and the mental health system, more power to you. If you think he’s a batshit, but brilliant actor, more power to you. But let’s really not fall into the trap of conflating his acting ability or viewpoints with the man himself. Labeling him a freedom fighter despite mounds of evidence to the contrary is assinine, problematic, downright misogynist, and symptomatic of a lot of problems within the liberty “movement.”