PREACH IT! Oh, just knock it off -- Charlie Sheen is *not* getting a free pass
“It's OK for Sheen to batter a woman,” a commenter on Perez Hilton’s blog has ranted, “but Chris Brown is torn apart in the media. If you are Charlie Sheen you can do whatever you want.”
The online Sanctimony Squad never fails to mobilize in instances like these, the implication being, of course, that if you’re white, you can do whatever you want, and the media will cower in a corner and decline to pounce.
For the record, Sheen is actually Hispanic, his real name being Carlos Estevez, the same name that showed up on his arrest report over Christmas -- and in our report on it here -- after he allegedly threatened his wife with a knife during a family stay in Aspen. (His TV show is godawful; does that even things out for you, you White Knights of the Internets, you?)
It is true that at first glance, the media might seem to be throwing Sheen a pass. If you do a proper search for stories mentioning Brown’s assault of Rihanna -- limited to stories with the actual word “assault” -- you get about 1,000 media hits. (That includes, fascinatingly enough, 26 mentions in scientific publications.) If you do a similar search regarding Sheen, Brooke Mueller and a knife, you get fewer than 250. This may sound somehow unfair, even considering that the Brown story is almost a year old.
Unless you really know how the media works and what gossip hounds really look for in a good story.
It isn’t the race. Seriously. It isn’t. It’s the fraud.
Anyone who doesn’t live in a yurt knows that Sheen has never professed ...
... to live the Rick Warren-style purpose-driven life. He has enjoyed relationships with not one but two porn stars, Heather Hunter and Ginger Lynn. It is quite public that Sheen once tried injecting himself with cocaine -- a hobby that didn’t really work out and that eventually sent him to rehab. His own father, Martin Sheen, has reported him for a violation of parole. I won’t even get into how Sheen managed to accidentally shoot his onetime fiancee Kelly Preston. That would be piling on the poor fellow. Just look at Sheen’s wiki instead. It’s really good times.
Meantime, contrast Chris Brown. Until his arrest, Brown was so clean he made little squeaking noises as he danced. Reporters wrote about him the way Walt Disney told stories about baby deer.
“He caught a cold two days earlier in Los Angeles while playing with a puppy,” a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle reported back in 2006, when Brown was still a teenager.
“He may hate me for saying it,” a British reporter cooed that same year, “but he’s a nice, sweet kid.”
Brown was, right up until he used a dashboard to make a meat pie out of his girlfriend’s face. It was that contrast -- the Bambi boy-turned-monster -- that fascinated fans, not Brown’s race.
(Remember how Hugh Grant went from bewildered English charmer to seedy cad overnight during the Divine Brown scandal? You should. Or maybe you don’t. You’re reading a blog; maybe you were a blastocyst or a fetus during those months. Either way, get educated. The media freaked out about Grant’s lily-white buttocks pretty completely.)
Same thing with Tiger Woods. He was a just a nice young bazillionaire with a wife and kids before he started hanging out with all those random ladies.
The public just couldn’t wrap its head around the contradiction; it was like Superman coming out and saying he likes to snort coke off of hookers’ backsides. The slow parade of mistresses helped drag that story out too -- with Sheen it was only one knife and one wife -- and with Brown, stars kept emerging to defend the kid and call the assault a “mistake,” assuring that the story stayed alive for weeks.
Charlie Sheen can’t get much badder than he is already. It’s almost boring. But whenever a goody-goody comes crashing to Earth, it’s utterly mesmerizing to millions of people.
Who will be the next to fall? I dunno. You tell me in the comments section below.
-- Leslie Gornstein
Photos: Charlie Sheen's Dec. 25 mug shot, left, and Chris Brown at a Nov. 19 probation hearing. Credit: Aspen Police Department / EPA, left; Gina Ferrazzi / Associated Press, right.
Other Charlie Sheen and Chris Brown and Rihanna dispatches from the Ministry of Gossip:Charlie Sheen, Brooke Mueller plan to go to counseling PREACH IT! Chris Brown is his own fail whale, a.k.a. 'Another star quits Twitter and demands a purple pony' Chris Brown to tell all (again) on "20/20" Click here for more. Or are you digging the Preach It! vibe? Click here for lots o' Leslie Gornstein.