Friday, December 7, 2012

Does This Show Make You Crazy?

He may look crazy...

I never watched Two & A Half Men save for catching the last few minutes of one episode.  In this episode, Charlie Harper (Charlie Sheen) was in bed with a beautiful woman whom he discovers is in some way related to him.  For once, he opts not to continue having sex with her.  Two of his co-stars were overhearing this (we call it eavesdropping), and were thrilled.  "Incest!" one cried.  "The one barrier he WON'T cross!" she says happily.  Fade to close.

I was quite horrified by this one scene.  I'd never thought a popular comedy would have incest jokes.  This was the Number One Comedy in America.  I imagined there were many parents who would think Two & A Half Men was quality family viewing (I've seen people take their kids to see The Hangover Part II, so it wouldn't surprise me). 

Well, I opted not to watch Two & A Half Men and my life has not been adversely impacted by it.  Still, it was impossible not to be aware of the very public meltdown of its star.  Charlie Sheen appeared unhinged: speaking about having 'tiger blood', his collection of beauties he insisted be called his 'goddesses', waving machetes on rooftops in the style of Panamanian General Noriega.

In short, it was crazy.

He left the show, did a concert tour that was hit and miss, and then settled into a television adaptation of the film Anger Management.

During the run-up to his inglorious exit from Two & A Half Men, Sheen publicly trashed his show and its creator, Chuck Lorre.  Sheen insisted HE kept the show going, turning the rather second-rate material into gold.  The entire saga was sordid, sad, and flat-out weird.

...but he's the REAL nutjob.
Now we have another Two & A Half Men star publicly denigrating the program that brought him wealth and fame. Angus T. Jones, the "half" of Two & A Half Men, has called the show 'filfth' and urged people not to watch the show.  There is a difference between Sheen's disdain for the show and Jones' disdain.  Sheen was driven by...well, I'm not exactly sure (insanity, drugs, an ego run amok).  Jones is driven by a newly-found faith.  Jones has found religion or Christ and is now embracing the beliefs of the Seventh-Day Adventists.  All well and good I suppose (I can't say I know anything about them, but for full disclosure I do attend a non-denominational Christian church on a semi-regular basis).  Since his initial declarations, he's walked some of his statements back, stating that he respects those who work on the show and meant no disrespect.

I wonder what exactly it is on Two & A Half Men that makes their stars so publicly turn against their own work.  I don't remember the cast of Friends going on tirades (I remember when they banded together for more money, but a threat of cancellation brought both sides to the negotiation table...wonder if that will work in Congress).   Again, I'm going on the fact that I never watched or cared to watch the show, but I'm not talking about the quality of the show.

Instead, I'm diving briefly into the reaction to their statements.  Sheen was seen as delightfully crazy: his antics those of someone bonkers who made us laugh.  Jones is seen as judgementally crazy: looking down on that which has brought him fame and fortune, even seeing the viewer as someone who enjoyed 'filth'.

Jones' dislike for that which he once did came from a spiritual place.  He believes now that he has a deeper connection to God as he sees Him that makes him reject 'the things of the world'.  Sheen's dislike for that which he once did came from...well, only Sheen knows for sure. 

Perhaps the reason Jones isn't being held in high regard is because his complaints come from a spiritual/religious viewpoint, and people I've learned dislike having anything smacking of religiosity thrown at them, especially if it involves their favorite television shows not being 'family-friendly fare'. 

It's no surprise we've had parodies of the Jones' video.  Both The Office's Rainn Wilson and Friends/Go On's Matthew Perry have spoofed Jones.  I've seen the videos: they are not funny.  In fact, there seems to be something almost vicious about them.  In regards to Wilson, advise already taken: The Office is no longer the hit it once was and I don't see it lasting much longer.  Perry's own very publicized problems with addiction might have made him slightly more sympathetic to Jones' dalliances with drugs, but alas, no.  These two grown men opted to ridicule someone they might know in passing for their own reasons.   

I do, however, question the wisdom of having these two men beat up on someone old enough to be their son.  Yes, Jones has been on television since he was nine, but let's not forget: he's still only 19 years old.  Wilson is 46, Perry is 43, and one would have thought that maybe these two grown men might have thought twice about picking on a kid.  If truth be known they should really be advising us to not watch The Rocker or Fools Rush In (and apologized for them) rather than mocking someone who just appears to be finding his way in life.

Wilson in particular should tread lightly on matters of faith.  Jones' video is associated with the Seventh-Day Adventists, of which there are around 16 million.  Wilson is an adherent of the Baha'i Faith, which has around 6 million.  Which one do you imagine might be seen as smaller, lesser-known, and perhaps more "exotic" faith?  Given how the Baha'i are still persecuted in countries like Iran, it does seem more obscene to see a well-known Baha'i like Wilson take cheap shots at someone like Jones.

The charge of hypocrisy merits attention.  Yes, he is making much money from said 'filth' and will continue to earn cash via residuals.  However, let's remember again that such agreements were made for him since he was at the beginning of Two & A Half Men a minor and has only achieved legal maturity in the last year.  He can leave the show now, but he is now an adult legally bound by a contract.  Perhaps Sheen's public meltdown is playing in the back of his head.  Jones has said he will be leaving soon so the charge that he's being hypocritical for taking cash from something he considers immoral isn't exactly a fair charge. 

I fail to see why as Perry states in his spoof, Charlie Sheen was not the craziest Two & A Half Men cast member (by insinuation that Jones, this 19-year-old who believes he had some sort of spiritual awakening, is more mentally unbalanced than a 40-something year old man claiming to have Adonis DNA and swinging machetes on rooftops).  I think Sheen's behavior and public statements (including, we forget, remarks against Lorre that were tinged with anti-Semitism) are more irrational than those from someone who now claims his faith in God as he sees Him makes him disavow his previous work.

I think the difference between Charlie Sheen and Angus T. Jones is that we can laugh at the behavior of the former but get the impression the latter is laughing at us.  We enjoy looking down on people.  We don't enjoy having others (especially those with more money) looking down on us, or appearing to. 

We can laugh at crazy.  We can't, however, stand anything that suggests moral judgments.

One has tiger blood, one has Jesus.
Both, apparently, are equally Psycho.

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