The mythic Charlie Sheen: Freakin’ rock star or cosmic flameout?

Full disclosure. I think Charlie Sheen’s last good acting performance was as Chris in Oliver Stone’s 1986 movie Platoon. I have never been able to watch Two And A Half Men from start to finish. I don’t know what Denise Richards was thinking, and it’s none of my business.

Nevertheless, Charlie Sheen’s coming out on national media has a brazenly self-destructive flavor to it that puts Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, Michael Jackson, and Tiger Woods to shame.

Pushing his role as entertainer to its rawest edge, Sheen’s quotes (as we all know) have been quoted and requoted by kittens, baby sloths, have spawned dozens of new web sites, and given the coffee mug/t-shirt specialty business a magic boost.

At best, the whole Sheen thing has been a distraction from the union-busting going on down at the  Wisconsin capitol, and the videostream of democratic uprisings in the Arab world. At worst, it’s a display of the further dumbnification going on in American pop culture. We can’t name the first three Presidents of the United States, but we know the Kardashian sisters and “I’m an F-18, bro,” all too well.

If we can set aside comments like, “I’m tired of pretending like I’m not special. I’m tired of pretending like I’m not bitchin’, a total freakin’ rock star from Mars,” we can look at this cosmic meltdown as an archetypal Hero’s journey.

Set loose from his King father Martin Sheen, Prince Charlie set out on a voyage through a forest of movies and TV shows, and is currently on his mythic crawl through the underworld. It is a place where dragons and monsters and furry horned (or horny) creatures live.

Whether Sheen comes out the other end carrying a flaming torch or—more importantly—whether or not his viewers will still carry a torch for him, we’ll just have to stay tuned.