Oh No! Not Charlie Sheen Again!
Amazingly enough, I have avoided writing about Charlie Sheen so far.
I do not believe his story to be that unusual — just different from others in a matter of degrees.
His creative and limit-pushing exploits seem to be a little more over the edge than most. My guess — and it is a guess at this point — is that he, like other actors (seems to me David Arquette has complained of “racing thoughts” in the not too distant past), is probably what we call a “dual diagnosis;” that is, underlying bipolar illness with some substance abuse associated.
In life in general, about 60% of all bipolars present initially with substance abuse problems. For some reason, substance abuse programs have never screened for this systematically — Only a few obsessional psychiatrists.
You gotta get a history of what people’s lives are like when they are NOT on substances. Some can’t remember.
I have taken care of a LOT of bipolar actors now that I work in Southern California. Both men and women who choose this utterly roller-coaster-ride of a profession often fit the classical criteria for “high highs” and “low lows” and try to flatten the curves with drugs before they figure out what is going on.
Treating the illness usually helps the career, but few believe it. From the hypersexuality that goes with mania to the avoidance of work that goes with depression, only the most insightful of characters seem to understand what is going on.
On the other side of the pond, humorist Stephen Fry certainly does understand and I love him for it.
But wait, there’s more.
The real reason that celebrity rehab — let alone psychiatric treatment if the idea is ever so much as entertained — is different from that of normal folks, is the amount of money involved. I mean, if production stops on a hit show because of Charlie Sheen’s status or conduct of whatever, thousands of people can be without paychecks; or at best, with far lesser ones. So it is totally understandable to expect this man gets concessions that will keep him working. Make him well — who knows? — but keep him working.
The movie bosses killed Judy Garland by addicting her to pills at a young age. She had uppers to get her going and then downers after the cameras stopped rolling. She was making movies and bringing in box office fortunes, so they really didn’t care if the Golden Goose would only have a short egg-laying lifetime.
Change gears again. Anti-Semitism??? I can understand that someone who is grappling with his work status gets mad at his boss. It seems to me when someone is addled by either mania or substances, what we are really doing is pulling back layers of social learning to reveal primordial, basic urges. Childlike urges. They are beneath logical sense and are just emotional expressions.
I certainly have no idea why Charlie Sheen would call the creator of his show a “loser.” This man gave him the vehicle that has been supporting his creative if sick and socially inept activities.
I can even understand why “Chaim Levine” would change his name to “Chuck Lorre.” Lots of people, generally about the age of my father, Anglicized their names.
My parents once asked me if it was something I would like to do. I did not. I never fully understood why, in the swinging sixties of people of color wearing “black power” buttons, they would never let me wear my “Jewish Power” button publically. (They even thought it was in poor taste to wear it to synagogue!!)
People changed “Isaacson” to “Ivers” and “Feldberg” to “Fallon” (In Boston, you could almost pass for Irish) but I told them back then I would bloom where I was planted, in a Jewish garden.
When I hung out in France, where there were some other Goldsteins around, my father suggested “Pierre d ‘Or,” meaning “stone of gold,” but seeming too ritzy and put on. The composer of the theme from Moulin Rouge, George Auric, one of the famous “Le Six” (six avant garde French composers), has a name that simply is a translation of “Golden.”
I think Chaim Levine was damned clever to come up with the relatively simple concept for “Two and a Half Men” that has made me laugh more than once.
I also know Charlie Sheen was born Carlos Estevez.
I really want to believe that we live in a world where it matters little what we call ourselves.
I have told many polite and kind Hispanic people in southern California who cannot pronounce my name to save their souls (?Gold-sin??) that it is common among my people and the last time I checked, it occupied over twenty pages in the New York City phone book.
We are trying to celebrate diversity here.
Back to calling Chaim Levine a loser.
There is a great deal written about anti-Semitism. I think it is at least in part because we are a people “of the word” and we love them and write a lot. We also tend to become psychologists and psychiatrists and such.
Last major discussion of Hollywood anti-Semitism I can recall came in the wake of what I believe was another substance addled tirade, that was from Mel Gibson.
This column gives examples of other anti-religious rants.
No, I do not think we should all change our names, although keeping religious beliefs private instead of public may help.
I only wish that in addition to helping people kick the drug habit and staying clean, and treating mental illness, we could teach people when to keep their mouths shut.