Who’s losing if Charlie is winning?

No you can't be Charlie Sheen for Halloween!
Steve Breen for the San Diego Union-Tribune

I can’t believe it took an 8.9 magnitude earthquake to shake us out of our bizarre fascination with Charlie Sheen.

I don’t want to be yet another person talking about him. But as Jacob Weisberg said, “while I am not much interested in celebrities, I am extremely interested in why other people are so interested in them.”

Suffice it to say that I’m not a fan of the way he’s treated women over the years. But as the media frenzy has unfolded over the last few weeks, I’ve become especially alarmed to see folks within my circle of friends showing admiration for him – rooting for him like he’s some kind of underdog and proudly wallpapering their cell phones with him.

It has forced me to ponder: What is up with us? Why are we so attracted to someone like Charlie Sheen?

Maybe we’re vicariously enjoying his self-indulgent disregard for all the usual rules and boundaries that constrain our lives. And I’m not saying  it’s wrong to hedonistically pursue one’s own interests. But as blogger Melissa McEwan often states, “my rights end where yours begin.”  You can buck the establishment and carve out your own path without being callous, arrogant, and abusive towards women.

So what does it say about us that we give him so much attention? And what messages are we giving young people about which behaviors get rewarded? If Charlie Sheen is winning, then he’s right: the rest of us are losing.