OK, Charlie himself wasn’t on the Mayflower, but surely his spirit was. I’m not talking about his spirit of rage and raunch; rather, his spirit of there’s-always-a-second-chance. The very belief that brought thousands, later millions, of losers to the New World seeking another opportunity in life to win. A belief which will be on entertaining display this month on Comedy Central’s Charlie Sheen Roast.
We all know this trajectory in America well.
First we build up our heroes and celebrities; then, after a predictable number of hurrays and headlines, we tire of the very qualities that not so long ago charmed us. The tale is an old one. The pilgrims from the Mayflower turned in time against their own leadership…frontier heroes like Davey Crockett quickly found detractors…once cheered presidents like John Quincy Adams, Herbert Hoover, Jimmy Carter and George Bush I got un-ceremoniously dumped after only one term.
But Charlie is betting on the Great American Comeback. Just like the Great American West lured men and women to come out into the wilds to find their redemption. Notice how the West’s favorite game was draw poker in which the player gets not one but two entirely fresh chances to take the pot.
Sometimes the public re-embraces their fallen heroes. For example Crockett was resurrected by Walt Disney…John Quincy turned around and got himself elected to Congress…Bush I eventually got a son into the White House. In Charlie’s case there are plenty of show business examples. Frank Sinatra’s career crashed by the end of the 40s only to be redeemed bigger than ever beginning in the 50s. Robert Downing Jr flamed out in drugs in the 90s only to become more popular than ever today.
To be sure, some stars never rise again. There’s Mel Gibson…Whitney Huston…Tom Eagleton… Charles Lindbergh…John Wilkes Booth. Still, you can never be sure about a once passionate love affair. When the Wizard wisely said, “Hearts won’t be perfect until they can be made un-breakable,” he could have added that on this side of the Emerald City, Americans’ broken hearts can often be wooed and wowed back into place.
So watch the gang roast Charlie Sheen this month [not co-incidentally the same night the new Two And A Half Men debuts]. Then track the subsequent trajectory of the public mood. A lot of other crashed stars will be. From the Oval Office right down to my Uncle Harry who just blew a bundle at the casino.
All of which raises this re-phrased question: Is it really better to have been great and crashed than never to have been great at all……..??
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