Mel Gibson to Charlie Sheen: Thanks, pal, for making me look almost sane
I'm not saying that Mel Gibson is dancing in the streets today, but let's just say that if there were ever anyone who could made Mel look halfway normal, it would be Charlie Sheen--you know, the Charlie Sheen who refers to himself as a "high-priest Vatican assassin warlock." In Hollywood, you know you have real problems not only when your network dumps your hit show, as CBS has done in response to Sheen's latest crazy-man antics, but when Abe Foxman hits the media circuit, saying you're an anti-Semite.
Sheen badmouthed "Two and a Half Men" co-creator Chuck Lorre, calling him a maggot, a clown and a charlatan, as well as repeatedly referring to him by his Jewish name, Chaim Levine. This prompted Foxman, who's the National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, to issue a statement saying: "By invoking television producer Chuck Lorre's Jewish name in the context of an angry tirade against him, Charlie Sheen left the impression that another reason for his dislike of Mr. Lorre is his Jewishness. This fact has no relevance to Mr. Sheen's complaint or disagreement, and his words are at best bizarre, and at worst, borderline anti-Semitism."
Sheen, for his part, told TMZ that he wasn't an anti-Semite, arguing that "I was referring to Chuck by his real name, because I wanted to address the man and not the [expletive] persona." Of course, Sheen also referred to Alcoholics Anonymous as a "bootleg cult," so it sounds like he had a lot of scores to settle. If the pope were as media savvy as Abe Foxman, he'd probably have something to say about Sheen's "Vatican assassin warlock" remark too. But the real lesson here is that when people get angry, as Sheen clearly is and as Gibson was before him, they reveal their true feelings, which are often pretty ugly.
Calling someone by their real name is hardly a defense, since back in the day, there were backward boxing fans who insisted on referring to Muhammad Ali by his original name, Cassius Clay, long after Ali had taken a new name to honor his Muslim religion. I'm sure they all had some excuse, but it was an impulse born out of racism and disrespect for Ali's religion, pure and simple. In that sense, Sheen sounds a lot like Gibson when he was ranting about Jews after his arrest for drunken driving--he's an angry man whose troubled mental state makes him a menace, not just to Chuck Lorre and all of his "Two and a Half Men" fans, but to himself.
In one of his crazed outbursts, right after he called Lorre a clown, Sheen said that he wasn't an addict anymore, claiming "the only thing I'm addicted to right now is winning." But actually it sounds like what's really addicted to is losing, not just losing his mind and his career, but whatever self-respect he might have had before he turned himself into the biggest clown in all of show business.
Photo: Charlie Sheen photographed in Los Angeles in 2009. Credit: Chris Pizzello / Associated Press