Charlie Sheen: Why #Winning Isn’t Funny

Written by Brad Phillips on March 9, 2011 – 12:03 am

Since launching this blog last summer, I’ve written close to 200 articles. All of them are focused specifically on media and presentation training. I’m not sure I’ve earned the privilege of departing from the blog’s stated purpose to express a personal opinion, so I hope you’ll forgive me for straying in this post.

I remember watching Craig Ferguson’s late night CBS talk show in early 2007 when Britney Spears was in the middle of her well-publicized mental breakdown. While other hosts were having fun at her expense, Mr. Ferguson’s monologue brought me to tears.

Among other things, he said:

“Tonight, no Britney Spears jokes. Here’s why: The kind of weekend she had, she was checking in and out of rehab, shaving her head, getting tattoos…For me, comedy should have a certain amount of joy in it…It should be about attacking the powerful — the politicians, the Trumps, the blowhards — going after them. We shouldn’t be attacking the vulnerable.”

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve watched many people treat Charlie Sheen’s break from reality as pure entertainment. I’ve seen journalists I respect, comedians who are usually funny, and many of my social media connections having fun at the star’s expense.

I can’t quite figure out why.

Charlie Sheen ABC News

Mr. Sheen is an addict. He will hopefully get a hold of his downward spiral – which has already cost him his job and the custody of his children – before it results in his early death.

Mr. Sheen’s newly-minted catchphrases (tiger blood, winning) and bizarre statements (Thomas Jefferson was a “pussy,” Alcoholics Anonymous is a “bootleg cult”) should be seen for what they are – the rantings of a troubled man. It’s sickening to watch sycophantic media interviewers gleefully embrace their role as enablers, and it’s equally disturbing to watch media companies joyfully profit from his downfall.

As if we needed another reminder of how sad addiction is, news broke earlier today that former Alice in Chains bassist Mike Starr died of a drug overdose at the age of 44.

Craig Ferguson was right. We shouldn’t be attacking the vulnerable.

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  • About Mr. Media Training

    The Mr. Media Training Blog offers daily tips to help readers become better media spokespersons and public speakers. It also examines how well (or poorly) public figures are communicating through the media.

    Brad Phillips is the Founder and Managing Editor of the Mr. Media Training Blog. He is the president of Phillips Media Relations, a media and presentation training firm with offices in NYC and DC.

    Brad Phillips

    Before founding Phillips Media Relations in 2004, Brad worked as a journalist with ABC's Nightline with Ted Koppel and CNN's Reliable Sources and The Capital Gang.

    Brad tweets at @MrMediaTraining.

    Christina Mozaffari is the Senior Writer for the Mr. Media Training Blog. She is the Washington, D.C. vice president for Phillips Media Relations.

    Brad Phillips

    Before joining Phillips Media Relations in 2011, Christina worked as a journalist with NBC News, where she produced stories for MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, NBC Nightly News, and The Today Show.

    Christina tweets at @PMRChristina.

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