Thursday, March 10, 2011

Charlie Sheen is (kind of) a genius, and he's (kind of) comparable to Lady Gaga.

There’s a pretty good chance you began reading this because of the title, which is usually a good thing and the object of a title in the first place, but that might not be the case in this particular instance. This time, you saw the title and probably got angry and decided you’d read it just so you could pick it apart and berate me for being an idiot.

I don’t blame you. In light of recent events, it’s a pretty inflammatory title that might seem like nonsense, especially since Lady Gaga is adored so vastly, for one reason or another.

But, if you’re incensed and that’s why you’re reading this, then you’re kind of proving the point I’m trying to make.

Up until a short while ago, you probably would’ve looked at that title, thought nothing of it and then continued looking around for something to read on a topic you cared about. If you were going to read it, it'd be because you were more enamored with Lady Gaga than Sheen. Back then, Charlie Sheen was just some dude who starred on that show your parents might still watch but you gave up on as soon as the half-man’s voice changed (or before, even). I can’t speak for anybody else’s reasoning for opting to just watch “How I Met Your Mother” and then call it a night, but for me it was the redundancy – though I must sadly admit that “HIMYM” is beginning to adopt some of that same redundancy. (Is it redundant to use the word redundancy twice in one sentence? If so, CBS must really be influencing me.) You can only watch a comedy about an aging drunk clad in bowling shirts and loafers who seduces a bunch of women for so many seasons if there’s very rarely any plot progression to speak of.

But then Sheen flew off the fucking handle. And now you care about him.

Charlie Sheen made you care.

The consumption of Sheen coverage is akin to rubber-necking at the scene of a car crash. You want to look away, but for some reason you aren't really able to describe, you can't. And, even though you really, really hope the event won't result in major injuries or death, you're aware either as the final outcome is far from out of the question. We all know it's maybe not the best thing to give Sheen a ton of attention, and for myriad reasons, but we're going to anyway, because his antics are endlessly entertaining.

The thought that he's a genius came to me involuntarily one night last week when I was watching Sheen's interview with Piers Morgan (which was a shame, because Larry King would've tore his shit apart). Sheen was talking all kinds of nonsense and punctuating every other sentence with either "winning," "duh" or something about "tigerblood" or "trolls." It was nothing short of awesome, albeit in an extremely stupid way, and it was television that was exponentially better than anything I'd ever seen on "Two and a half Men."

"This guy is a fucking genius," I thought to myself, much like the thoughts that probably run through his own head constantly, because he only has one setting, and that setting is "go." It was then that I made the decision to relentlessly follow every batshit crazy thing the dude would engage in.

This was also when I started to observe the parallels between Sheen and Lady Gaga.

I should clarify that I don't view Sheen or the lady who’s always talking about monsters as a genius in the traditional Albert Einstein, card-carrying-Mensa-member way, but in that throwaway way the term is now popularly used. Same with Lady Gaga -- though I don’t dispute that both of them are much more intelligent than myself, and may indeed have genius-level IQs. According to Mensa’s website, there are around 110,000 Mensans throughout the world, and judging by Sheen and Lady Gaga’s achievements at young ages, it’s quite possible they could both easily make the cut.

I don’t care about that, though, and you probably don’t, either. I just mean they’re geniuses because they’ve outsmarted us all into paying attention to every single little thing they do, for better or worse. I guess my mode of thinking now is that you have to be some kind of genius to captivate such a broad and vast audience, so fuck it: they’re both geniuses.

A few weeks before all this Sheen activity commenced, I got into an argument with a friend about whether or not Lady Gaga should be considered a genius. The criteria were that she played instruments, wrote her own songs and was unique. Many people attested to me that she was a genius based on these loose qualifications, which I supposed made my older brother, younger sister and Taylor Swift geniuses as well, along with that goofy music teacher whose young students performed at the Academy Awards this year.

The day this argument began was -- coincidentally -- the day of the Grammys, when this chick showed up in a fucking egg. As soon as I saw this, I found a link to a photo online and put it on my friend's Facebook wall, with some snarky comment about how I’d changed my mind, and she truly was a genius. At the time, I was angry that people held her in such high regard.

Then Sheen came along, though, and I realized that my complete adoration of his antics -- which would occasionally make me nearly giddy -- and my discomfort and dismay with Lady Gaga’s made me a complete hypocrite. I spend a lot of time talking about how she’s overrated (which she is, but hey, so were the Beatles -- anybody with that level of notoriety can’t be as good as people make them out to be) and extremely gimmicky. I couldn’t make peace with the fact that she got so much attention because of the ridiculous things she would wear and say.

“I don’t understand why she has to do all of that stuff,” I’d say to girls who would immediately rule out ever sleeping with me as soon as I made a disparaging remark about their Mother Monster. “I mean, if she’s that talented, why can’t she just let the music speak for itself?”

Well, because that’s not enough anymore, if your goal is to be a really, really famous pop star, and I’m going to assume is one of Lady Gaga’s, since both of the LPs she’s released have the word “Fame” in them. Unless you’re one of the most talented musicians to ever live, you have to have a little bit of that David Bowie gimmickery in your arsenal. Just tonight, I listened to Adele’s new album, and I was very, very impressed. But, she’ll never be as big as Lady Gaga. She’ll never have a bunch of little girls and young women freaking the fuck out at her concerts, because she won’t catch their attention. She’ll catch the attention of the girls and boys who just really want their art to come before everything else, which I guess can be good or bad. I guess Lady Gaga knew this, which is why she doesn’t play quiet piano music and go by the name Stefani Germanotta anymore. (This is true in pretty much any kind of media. Almost everyone my age I know can tell me who Tucker Max is, but probably only a handful can tell me who Junot Diaz is, despite Diaz being one of the best writers on the entire fucking globe. Max is definitely one of my favorites, but I think even he would say he’d have some really ridiculously tough competition if Diaz was getting wrecked, fucking girls and writing about it all the time.) With Adele, it seems to really be all about the music. No matter what Lady Gaga says, I’ll never believe that she feels the same way.

I guess it’s the same with acting as far as Sheen is concerned. If the acting process was his real passion and heightened status took a back seat, he may still have banged a bunch of porn stars and done a bunch of blow, but he would’ve stayed quiet about it. Sheen was famous before, and he’s richer than I can even fathom, but he wasn’t on my radar until he started doing obnoxious things, despite starring on what is allegedly the most-watched network comedy on television. Maybe he knew when he started spouting off some of the most absurd quotes and statements I’ve heard since, well, since I was born, that people would pay attention again. Maybe he didn’t. There’s really no way of knowing for sure.

But, it worked. Res ipsa loquitor ("the thing speaks for itself"), to take a favorite statement from the late Hunter S. Thompson -- a dude who was no stranger to the way a bold persona could drastically enhance fame and alter the way people view your work. Sheen has become without a doubt the most popular news story in the country, despite a pretty huge story in Libya centered around Muammar Gaddafi, a man who is probably just as insane as Sheen. The difference, though, is Gaddafi's lack of charisma. He's not entertaining, and Sheen is. Gaddafi is apparently a troll, with something other than tiger blood running through his veins, and I don’t really have any desire to follow him on Twitter.

Whatever condition Sheen’s motivations, mindset or mental stability are in doesn’t matter to me; I will continue to follow him on Twitter and on television and on UStream and wherever else he decides to take his newly-revealed personality. If he does some kind of stand-up comedy tour or show where he simply just talks nonsense, I’ll pay money to go and see it, just like so many people pay money to go see Lady Gaga. If he does another show – preferably a reality show – I’ll watch every single fucking episode.

I'm ashamed of myself, but the man will have my attention for the immediately foreseeable future.

I've heard somewhere that talent always rises. This may be true; I'm not sure yet, but you need more than talent now if you want to rise to the top of celebrity culture.

I suppose geniuses are born, not made, and it kind of sucks to think that if you want to win, and keep on winning, you have to be born that way.