|image of Piers Morgan and Charlie Sheen is from here|
“You’re entitled to behave however the hell you like as long as you don’t scare the horses and the children.” -- Piers Morgan to Charlie Sheen
"I Like Crazy People Who Don't Give a F**k." -- Robert Pattinson, about Charlie Sheen
Who don't give a fuck about women, I'd add.
A huge hug and grand thanks to Anna Holmes for writing this piece!!!! THANKS, ANNA!!!!!! I saw the same program Anna did, and was nauseated by it. I've written a bit about it last week, I think, soon after it aired--well, probably in the hours immediately after it aired. I believe Piers, Mel Gibson, and Charlie Sheen represent--and are--a very particular kind of man. A super-privileged man--super-privileged by fame or fortune or popularity or celebrity or things more mundane, like class and appearance of race/ethnicity privilege, or actual race/ethnicity privilege in the case of Mel and Piers. Even teen heart-throb Robert Pattinson have come out strongly in support of Charlie's anti-social, anti-woman antics. Nice to know where you stand, Robert. If also disappointing.
These men are either flagrant serial abusers and/or exploiters of women, or they're vehement defenders of such male abusers and exploiters of women. These men seem to go out of their way to make sure we all know they support one another--that the Misogynist Brotherhood is alive and well. These men also tend to have egos the size of a rather large and supremely unfathomable god.
They also seem to be in need of protecting themselves a lot--these men who abuse or exploit others with a casualness or callousness more typically found in non-human (or human) animals with no evident conscience. It's not to say that Piers, specifically, is a sociopath. I think the jury is out on Mel Gibson, however. And I'd put Charlie between the two. To me, Piers is a willful exploiter of women, who could care less about attending to the matter of being responsible and humane with his enormous privileges and media power, tepid though it may be.
I don't expect Mr. Morgan's show to last more than one or possibly two seasons, honestly. It's so fucking uninteresting most of the time. Oh, and so pro-bro and pro-sexism. He's so hung up on talking with his fellow het dudes about their uses of women, including of women in pornography, as he did with Brett Michaels. Piers, if you're watching, do you really think men who grossly, and perhaps compulsively, sexually exploit women for fun are going to be enough of an audience to keep your show on the air? These are not men who, typically, watch chat shows, after all. And these are men, who, during those hours that your show typically airs, are too busy hunting down women to fuck, or have their faces plastered to computer monitors with dick-in-hand. I've avoided watching most of your episodes, thus far, and don't see that changing any time soon. I watched Larry King far more often and his ratings weren't good enough for CNN execs, were they?
Now, Charlie Sheen has told Piers he's never hit a woman--not even once, not even accidentally, apparently. I'll just say "Charlie, given how damned out of it on drugs you've been, how would you know?" Does throwing Brittany Ashland to the floor not count? Does shoving Denise Richards count? Does a tight grip around a woman's throat not count? Do you consider either of those acts to be demonstrating this glorious regard and respect for womankind you seem to be extolling as one of your virtues? (See more details, reader, in Anna's report below.)
Charlie appears to be saying that all women should be treated as goddesses, which I'll assume he doesn't use as a synonym for "prostitutes who exist to please men"--or does he? On Piers Morgan's show, C. Sheen declared himself innocent of EVER having hit a woman with an earnestness that, to me, overflowed with insincerity. Does he not believe the women who have spoken out about how, exactly, he has frightened, terrified, or abused them? Are they not real to him? Do their voices not count as "the voices of goddesses"? If a woman speaks out against him, must she hand back her "goddess" membership card, and join the ranks of the mere wh*re?
To Charlie: Is Capri Anderson a goddess who only deserves to be treated with respect and regard by all men on Earth? You seem to only acknowledge two categories of women: goddesses and wh*res. And maybe mothers as a third category, as long as they aren't trying to protect their children from your excesses and abuses. You've heard of the madonna/wh*re complex, haven't you, Charlie? It was a psychoanalytic evaluation of a way of thinking about and treating women that men in very misogynistic, patriarchal societies seem to keep accomplishing with little to no social or civil intervention.
Charlie Sheen is not so much a pop cultural folk-hero as he is a male supremacist fuck-hero for men who believe abusing and otherwise fucking over women ought to be men's right and entitlement. In the article that follows, terms for women are used that I don't generally use here without interrupting them with at least one asterisk, as they are very triggering for many women who have heard them before being battered or while being incested and raped.
Please click on the article's title to link back to the source website.
By ANNA HOLMES
Published: March 3, 2011
FORTY-THREE minutes into his “special live edition” with Charlie Sheen on Monday night, Piers Morgan finally got around to asking his guest a real question. Before that, Mr. Morgan and Mr. Sheen had mostly traded chuckles and anecdotes about multiday benders, inflated network salaries and meet-ups in Aspen, Colo. But then, after three commercial breaks, Mr. Morgan inquired, “Have you ever hit a woman?”
Two minutes later, with Mr. Morgan apparently satisfied with the actor’s answer that no, women should be “hugged and caressed,” that line of questioning was over.
That Mr. Morgan didn’t press the issue of domestic violence shouldn’t have come as any surprise. CBS executives, not to mention the millions of viewers of his “family” sitcom “Two and a Half Men,” have consistently turned a blind eye toward Mr. Sheen’s history of abusing women. Part of this, of course, is about money. The actor’s F-18 of an id — to borrow a metaphor from Mr. Sheen himself — had long provided the show a steady stream of free publicity. It also helped make Mr. Sheen the highest-paid actor on television, at $1.2 million an episode.
[Julian's note: closer to $2 million per episode, according to Charlie. And he feels profoundly underpaid. Poor dear. Poor impoverished dear. Considering he makes more in one week than who nations of people earn in one year--or is that ten years?--I'm going to say he's a tad out of touch with reality. He'll only return to the show if he's paid $3 million an episode, for all the emotional wear and tear his producers have, allegedly, put him through.]
But it’s also about apathy. Even now — after Mr. Sheen began carpet-bombing his bosses in radio rants, prompting CBS to shut down production on the show — observers still seem more entertained than outraged, tuning in to see him appear on every talk show on the planet and coming up with creative Internet memes based on his most colorful statements. And while his self-abuses are endlessly discussed, his abuse of women is barely broached.
Our inertia is not for lack of evidence. In 1990, he accidentally shot his fiancée at the time, the actress Kelly Preston, in the arm. (The engagement ended soon after.) In 1994 he was sued by a college student who alleged that he struck her in the head after she declined to have sex with him. (The case was settled out of court.) Two years later, a sex film actress, Brittany Ashland, said she had been thrown to the floor of Mr. Sheen’s Los Angeles house during a fight. (He pleaded no contest and paid a fine.)
In 2006, his wife at the time, the actress Denise Richards, filed a restraining order against him, saying Mr. Sheen had shoved and threatened to kill her. In December 2009, Mr. Sheen’s third wife, Brooke Mueller, a real-estate executive, called 911 after Mr. Sheen held a knife to her throat. (He pleaded guilty and was placed on probation.) Last October, another actress in sex films, Capri Anderson, locked herself in a Plaza Hotel bathroom after Mr. Sheen went on a rampage. (Ms. Anderson filed a criminal complaint but no arrest was made.) And on Tuesday, Ms. Mueller requested a temporary restraining orderagainst her former husband, alleging that he had threatened to cut her head off, “put it in a box and send it to your mom.” (The order was granted, and the couple’s twin sons were quickly removed from his home.) “Lies,” Mr. Sheen told People magazine.
The privilege afforded wealthy white [Julian's note: his ethnic heritage is also Latino] men like Charlie Sheen may not be a particularly new point, but it’s an important one nonetheless. Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears are endlessly derided for their extracurricular meltdowns and lack of professionalism on set; the R&B star Chris Brown was made a veritable pariah after beating up his equally, if not more, famous girlfriend, the singer Rihanna. Their careers have all suffered, and understandably so.
This hasn’t been the case with Mr. Sheen, whose behavior has been repeatedly and affectionately dismissed as the antics of a “bad boy” (see: any news article in the past 20 years), a “rock star” (see: Piers Morgan, again) and a “rebel” (see: Andrea Canning’s “20/20” interview on Tuesday). He has in essence, achieved a sort of folk-hero status; on Wednesday, his just-created Twitter account hit a million followers, setting a Guinness World Record.
But there’s something else at work here: the seeming imperfection of Mr. Sheen’s numerous accusers. The women are of a type, which is to say, highly unsympathetic. Some are sex workers — pornographic film stars and escorts — whose compliance with churlish conduct is assumed to be part of the deal. (For the record: It is not.)
Others, namely Ms. Richards and Ms. Mueller, are less-famous starlets or former “nobodies” whose relationships with Mr. Sheen have been disparaged as purely sexual and transactional. The women reside on a continuum in which injuries are assumed and insults are expected.
“Gold diggers,” “prostitutes” and “sluts” are just some of the epithets lobbed at the women Mr. Sheen has chosen to spend his time with. Andy Cohen, a senior executive at Bravo and a TV star in his own right, referred to the actor’s current companions, Natalie Kenly and Bree Olson, as “whores” on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program on Tuesday. Arianna Huffington sarcastically tweeted that Mr. Sheen’s girlfriends “symbolize modesty, loyalty and good taste.” Mr. Sheen’s own nickname for Ms. Kenly and Ms. Olson — “the goddesses” — is in its own way indicative of their perceived interchangeability and disposability.
It’s these sorts of explicit and implicit value judgments that underscore our contempt for women who are assumed to be trading on their sexuality. [Julian's note: Let's be clear. Charlie is doing little else other than trading on his sexuality and his fame, which is largely currently due to him trading on his sexuality.] A woman’s active embrace of the fame monster or participation in the sex industry, we seem to say, means that she compromises her right not to be assaulted, let alone humiliated, insulted or degraded; it’s part of the deal. The promise of a modern Cinderella ending — attention, fame, the love and savings account of a rich man — is always the assumed goal.
Objectification and abuse, it follows, is not only an accepted occupational hazard for certain women, but something that men like Mr. Sheen have earned the right to indulge in. (Mr. Sheen reportedly once said that he didn’t pay prostitutes for the sex; he paid them “to leave.”) One can’t help but think that his handlers might have moved more quickly to rein in their prized sitcom stallion if his victims’ motivations weren’t assumed to be purely mercenary. (Or if they enjoyed parity and respect with regards to their age, influence and earning power.)
These assumptions — about women, about powerful men, about bad behavior — have roots that go way back but find endorsement in today’s unscripted TV culture. Indeed, it’s difficult for many to discern any difference between Mr. Sheen’s real-life, round-the-clock, recorded outbursts and the sexist narratives devised by reality television producers, in which women are routinely portrayed as backstabbing floozies, and dreadful behavior by males is explained away as a side effect of unbridled passion or too much pilsner.
As Jennifer Pozner points out in her recent book “Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty-Pleasure TV,” misogyny is embedded within the DNA of the reality genre. One of the very first millennial shows, in fact, “Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire,” was notable in that it auctioned off what producers called the “biggest prize of all”: a supposedly wealthy B-movie writer named Rick Rockwell — who was later revealed to have had a restraining order filed against him by a woman he’d threatened to kill. According to Ms. Pozner, the reaction of one of the producers of “Multimillionaire” was, “Great! More publicity!”
On reality television, gratuitous violence and explicit sexuality are not only entertainment but a means to an end. These enthusiastically documented humiliations are positioned as necessities in the service of some final prize or larger benefit — a marriage proposal, a modeling contract, $1 million. But they also make assault and abasement seem commonplace, acceptable behavior, tolerated by women and encouraged in men.
Which brings us back to Mr. Morgan, who, like many of Mr. Sheen’s past and present press enablers, showed little to no urgency in addressing the question of violence against women. “You’re entitled to behave however the hell you like as long as you don’t scare the horses and the children,” Mr. Morgan said at one point. Scaring women, it seems, was just fine.
During the interview, a series of images played on a continuous loop. One of them was a defiant and confident-looking Charlie Sheen, in a mug shot taken after his 2009 domestic violence arrest.
Anna Holmes is a writer and the creator of the Web site Jezebel.