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Charlie Sheen: The Sad Spectacle of the Real-Life Kenny Powers

By Dustin Rowles | Think Pieces | March 2, 2011 |

By Dustin Rowles | Think Pieces | March 2, 2011 |

When I went to bed last night, Charlie Sheen seemed to be the only topic of conversation anywhere online. After handing out interviews like blow jobs in a crack den, he had joined Twitter, and as of this morning, he’d amassed over 700,000 followers. In 12 hours. People who have held out for two years are finally joining Twitter just so they can be a Charlie Sheen follower, a phrase in and of itself that strikes me as a little sad. This morning, I looked around at even the most respectable sites, and they’re all covering Sheen from various angles. The AV Club solicited Charlie Sheen warlock photos from readers; Slate is asking if Sheen will have an RDJ-style comeback; a Lindsay Lohan fade into obscurity; or a Heath Ledger overdose; is analyzing it at every angle; and HuffPo, well, they managed to slip a photo of Scarlett Johansson putting a foot in Sean Penn’s lap in between all the Charlie Sheen coverage. As long as he doesn’t model a dress, at least we can avoid him on GoFugYourself, although at this point in Sheen’s media meltdown, I wouldn’t put it past him.

I’m struggling with how to cover it here. If we’re going to cover a media circus, there’s really only two options for this site: 1) We could exaggerate the spectacle in order to reduce it down to its elements and make some frivolous point about celebrity. But there’s nothing here to exaggerate. Charlie Sheen has turned into a Will Ferrell character — over the last five days, he’s taken it as far as he can. We can’t take it to the next level. We can’t turn it on its head. He’s doing all the work for everyone — it’s just a copy/paste job for bloggers. Now that he’s on Twitter, he’s even supplying his own images; the man is putting even the paparazzi out of business.

All that leaves us is 2) To ask why. Why are we so fascinated with this man and his downward spiral into loony Stripperville? Everybody hated this guy last week, and now 700,000 people (and counting) are scrambling to find out what he’ll say next. He’s rattling off enough catchphrases to keep T-shirt and Internet meme manufacturers wealthy for the next year, or at least until someone else comes along. No one seems to find it all that troubling that he’s a known abuser, that he’s violent, a drug addict, and it’s likely that there’s as much suicidal ideation as there are delusions in this man’s mind, and that’s only going to increase after he had his children taken away. Maybe to even bring it up is to be a giant buzzkill. Nobody wants to be that “liberal pussy” who starts talking about how the media is enabling him.

So we laugh. Because he says WINNING! And #tigerblood, and because we think he’s destroying himself, and maybe he’ll burn out in a week. But maybe’s he won’t. Maybe this is not a meltdown; maybe it’s a reinvention. He doesn’t have a television show anymore (at least for the time being), but he’s never been more popular. There are as many people laughing with the guy as there are laughing at him. Dude’s fucking ripe for a Hangover III cameo.

People are loving this. Charlie Sheen is being celebrated, even more than he was when he was being paid $2 million an episode to play a PG-rated version of himself. Now, he’s no longer constrained by a television studio. He’s become the feature version. The same 20 million people that loved his character on “Two and a Half Men” love him even more now. Not as a joke, but as the ultimate guy’s guy: A man banging two broads who knows how to put a woman in her place, who can smoke seven pounds of crack rock and cure addiction with his mind.

What he’s become is fucking Kenny Powers. He “loves women, every fucking one of them. Even the ugly as shit ones … but don’t ask me to trust them, because every pair of tits comes with a gaping hole of needs.” Like Kenny Powers, Charlie Sheen probably thinks he’s been blessed with “a cock like a Burmese python and a mind like a fucking scientist.” Charlie Sheen’s philosophy is winning. Kenny Powers’ says, “If there’s one thing I hate, it’s losing. If there’s another thing I hate, it’s losing and cancer.”

How different is this quote from Kenny Powers from something that Charlie Sheen would say?

Just like in life, all of my successes depend on me. I’m the man who has the ball. I’m the man who can throw it faster than fuck. So that is why I am better than everyone in the world. Kiss my ass and suck my dick, everyone.

Or this:

If there’s one thing I’ve learned through all my adventures and conquests, is that some people are just wired for success. I had no choice when it came to being great. I just am great. I’m not trying to sound cocky or full of myself. But Kenny Powers has a sneaking suspicion that no matter what comes his way, he will always be great because that’s just the way shit works sometimes.

The difference between Kenny Powers and Charlie Sheen is that Powers is fictional, and even in fiction, Kenny Powers has a soft middle. Charlie Sheen is pure fucking evil. But Charlie Sheen’s Twitter followers are treating them with the same reverence. Charlie Sheen may be a joke to many of you, but too a lot more he’s the goddamn American dream. While most of you are laughing, there are others who are idealizing. They want to be great like Charlie fucking Sheen.

But Kenny Powers hasn’t made it back to the Major Leagues yet. And I very much doubt that Charlie Sheen will ever make Major League 3. He may be dead before April, and in May, he’ll either be a martyr for the cause of banging bitches and doing blow or a cautionary tale on how the media stood idly by and watched another man destroy himself. But knowing Hollywood, they’ll find a way to exploit even his corpse — there is talk of a Weekend at Bernie’s remake, after all.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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