I have long resisted posting something of this nature as it’s less about the mechanics of TV and presents more moral, and political ideas and is more of an indictment on the media. I have always preferred to get on my soap box at my office or home where people would politely smile while they let me rant and then try to run away from me as soon as possible. Recent events in the media have made me try to write down some thoughts, so here goes. I apologize in advance if this becomes some rambling mess.
Personally I believe in this credo: Try to be kind to your fellow man and whatever you do or religion you do or don’t believe in, is less material. Just be kind to your fellow man and don’t hurt anyone else. I hate what the media has turned into – a judgmental, mean spirited, invasive, cruel set of judge and jury for the rich and powerful. They create the train wrecks and then report on them aghast at what they are witnessing. Case in Point: Anytime an actress has lunch, they comment on extra weight she is carrying. When said actress develops an eating disorder, they are right there with their “Special Report: How Did This Happen!” special. How did this happen? Are you kidding?
I felt for Alec Baldwin when a private conversation that occurred in a very tense situation was released for the pubic. Every one in the media, and let’s face it – in society, got on their high horse and made judgments about him and how horrible he is and how they would never be that kind of parent. Honestly who among us hasn’t had an argument with a close family member or friend where we have raised our voices and said things in the heat of the moment? I grew up in a house of yelling, which isn’t that uncommon among Jewish people (of which I am), It’s just how people express themselves. Is it ideal? Probably not but it is what is. It doesn’t mean you don’t love the person any less. If someone leaked a tape of me having a moment, I’d hide under my bed from embarrassment. But they probably wouldn’t also leak the tape of the call a minute later where I apologize profusely. Similarly I’d be willing to bet money that Alec Baldwin placed that kind of call to his daughter immediately after said incident. Yet no one leaked that call and that didn’t stop the whole world from judging, condemning and eviscerating him based on a private moment that we had no business being apart of, let alone judging, especially out of context. Again, we have all had those moments (well maybe Mother Theresa hasn’t). If we were all being judged for our less than stellar episodes, none of us would leave our homes. We are all flawed human beings and none of us are free of sin, so it would be nice if we can afford others the same compassion we all desire.
I remember when the Tiger Woods Scandal broke Thanksgiving of 09. For days, (and then months) the media judged and crucified him regarding what I think was a private matter between he and his wife. A month later on Christmas when Charlie Sheen was arrested for allegedly assaulting and threatining to kill his wife, it was reported as a footnote. I remember Tiger Woods still getting more of the media’s scorn and it was A MONTH LATER.
Now Charlie Sheen’s marriage issues are none of my business either and just like Tiger I didn’t want to hear about them, but it was obvious that the media wasn’t gonna be done with Tiger’s story for a while. Not until he was publicly contrite and even then he was subject to more flogging.
At the time this occurred, I said to friends, “I don’t want to hear about any of this, but why is the media still going on about Tiger and barely covering Charlie? They are clearly making a choice. They have their “villain” they are choosing to vilify. They can also make a choice to not cover any of it too”. I was told the reason why the media is harder on Tiger is because he perpetuated a “squeaky” clean image, whereas Charlie was always a “bad boy”. I’m trying to avoid judging, but infidelity seems rather tame compared to threatening to kill your wife. Again, I don’t think it’s my business in either case, and I don’t want to be judging either, but the media clearly decided that Tiger’s crimes were far more heinous.
Chris Brown was tried in the media. He assaulted his girlfriend Rihanna and he paid for it. He was #1 everywhere and immediately he couldn’t get his next album to go gold. Obviously what he did was wrong and the immediate backlash was expected and deserved. But since then he has been publicly contrite, went to anger management classes and seemed like he was really trying to learn from his mistakes. Recently he went on SNL and people were treating him as someone who was unforgivable. Doesn’t everyone deserve a second chance, especially someone incredibly young who grew up in an abusive home? Why is he treated far worse than Charlie Sheen from the public?
Since the Charlie Sheen incident last Christmas, he has had more incidents, trashed a hotel room, blatantly flaunted his wild lifestyle publicly and also has flaunted it in front of America as his character Charlie Harper. Did his sitcom suffer in ratings? Not remotely. In a recent survey of America’s favorite celebs he was still in the top 10. He clearly had a drug problem and people close to him personally and professionally were justifiably concerned. It seemed as he was suffering on some level and was on some self destructive path and in that respect, I felt bad for him. But there was still a major discrepancy in the way he was treated in the media and by the American Public vs. certain other figures.
Tiger Woods cheats on his wife, like many people have done – Presidents, Actors, the guy sitting next to us on the train yet he is deemed horrible, unforgivable. Chris Brown, a child in his early 20s who grew up in an abusive home and unfortunately repeated some of that behavior, but is trying to correct those mistakes and change, is also deemed unforgivable.
But Charlie Sheen has shown no interest in changing his hard partying life which includes trashing hotel rooms misogynistic behavior and is rewarded by being the highest paid actor on TV, and still receives major love from the public. In one of his many calls to radio hosts this week, Charlie claimed to be clean and assailed his bosses (complete with what might possibly be construed as an anti Semitic dig at creator and showrunner of Two and Half Men, Chuck Lorre) all the while flaunting his narcissism, extravagant lifestyle and deeming these other people and “their ugly wives and their ugly children” being the losers and he’s the winner. Honestly I still don’t expect American to stop watching the show. I bet the rerun on Monday on CBS does as well as it did last week.
I’m gonna say the obvious here – Charlie Sheen is White and Rich and America is much more forgiving in that case. Frankly, it’s horribly unfair.
But let’s also be honest, America got their cues from the media and their “collective shrugs” about Charlie while they demonized Tiger etc.
So what’s my point? Gee I’m not that sure anymore. This is the problem with these rants
I guess my point is once again the media decides who deserves forgiveness and who doesn’t and in most cases there is no consistency or fairness involved.
The bottom line is I feel for anyone who is suffering even where their suffering is self inflicted. If Charlie is still under some self inflicted haze, I hope he gets well so he can enjoy his success and his family and friends and employers can stop worrying about the man they love.
This year’s American Idol is proof that you don’t have to be mean and you can be kind and not only will your show not suffer creatively, but it won’t in the ratings either. It’d be great if the media could take that lesson and decide they’re not gonna be as tabloidy, as judgmental, and as inconsistent.
All of us should take the same lesson.