A Commentary By Susan Estrich
Charlie Sheen is starting a new charity, and his new charity's first priority is to raise money for the Giants fan who was beaten up at Dodger Stadium.
Victims of violence, of all things.
You'd think he'd pick something safe like the environment or homelessness, something that wasn't quite so on the nose.
But if he had, would I have noticed? Would whatever news story I read have been written? Sad to say, but how many of us just see a quick laugh in a violent guy supporting victims of violence? (This, in turn, is sure to be met by defenders pointing out that Sheen's victims did not suffer brain damage. And what a relief that is, given that they were the mothers of his children.)
The good news, at least for Sheen, is that whatever our motivation, we're all talking about the merchandise sales from a performance of his one-man show in San Francisco, where the "Bryan Stow Fund," being as he was a San Francisco Giants fan, has particular resonance. Clever, huh?
There have been many appealing rascals, especially in the entertainment industry. But Sheen's popularity and audacity mirror bleakly the extent to which we have become a culture that applies no value judgments to its icons.
There he sits, with utter arrogance, surrounded by his three handmaidens, or whatever they are, a vicious, vile finger in the eye to decency. And he's selling himself and his merchandise for a guy who obviously needs and deserves help. Charlie Sheen, a guy with a good cause. As a press strategy, it clearly worked. But that's not my question. I'm worried about us, not him.
Have we lost a collective screw?
Have we no shame?
I'm all for efforts toward celebrity rehabilitation. No one stays in front of the public forever without requiring some rehabilitation along the way. I'm not expecting perfection. I'm wide open to even a touch of remorse.
But Sheen's whole game is to show none and announce that it is everyone else who has the problem and not him. He might be right.
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