We've all heard the story so I'm not going to go into too much detail: Celebrity X overcomes addiction to substance Y. He's labeled as a brave individual who had to overcome many hardships and battle with his personal demons (whatever that's supposed to mean). This goes on for a few months until said celebrity relapses and the same scenario repeats itself.
Then it's the same story all over again.
I'm not one to belittle a drug addiction, but in this case, it's clear to me that the "addiction" these people are suffering from is not one related to drugs – at least not the drugs they are going to rehab for.
These people are addicted to fame, and to document their stories of addiction, rehab and relapse is doing nothing but enabling them. By telling the world about Charlie Sheen's battle with cocaine and adult film stars, we are enabling him to feed off the adoration – whether real or fake – his fans have for him. His actions seem to support this.
Sheen gets kicked off his own show for being an incompetent drug addict, goes on an obscene, hilarious bender where he basically reveals himself to be a god among men, and what happens?
Did this deter Sumner Redstone, CEO of Viacom, the parent company of CBS and MTV among other media entities, from offering Charlie his old job back? Of course not. He knows more than anyone that the bottom line is the only thing that matters in Hollywood – and Charlie is good for the bottom line. He is, to borrow an infamous quote from the man himself, "winning!? DUH!"
Charlie Sheen is certainly not the first celebrity to use his fame to his advantage, nor will he be the last. As long as the culture is enamored with the concept of celebrity, the story of Charlie Sheen will not be an exception, it will be the norm (witness Chris Brown's meltdown on Good Morning America a few weeks after Sheen's tirades for proof).
Of course, this being Hollywood, and celebrities secretly "envious" of the attention that Sheen's tirades have garnered, there was bound to be a few of them who chimed in. They weren't content with letting Charlie tell his story; far from it. They wanted to give their two cents about the subject, about why Charlie is doing this.
Childhood friend Sean Penn was quoted as saying that "Charlie is one of the very few public people who cannot be accused of using the media to his own benefit". He then went on to invite Charlie to Haiti, where he feels Charlie would help offset a lot of the devastation Haiti has faced as a result of the recent Tsunami. Of course, Charlie, never one to shy away from media coverage despite what Penn said, revealed his involvement in that plan to Access Hollywood Live, saying, "I’m excited because, you know, if I can bring the attention of the world down there, then clearly this tsunami keeps cresting."
Lindsay Lohan, another friend of Charlie's and not a stranger to controversy and addiction herself, was also involved in this circus. Lohan figured she would be the voice of reason, applauding Charlie for seeking help and going to rehab. Lohan apparently "understands the problem of having the wrong people around and wants Charlie to understand that he needs to surround himself with positive, sober people."
In the end, these people are only asking one thing of us, that we "miss [them] a little when they're gone," as Aubrey Graham (AKA Drake – and yes, I delight in the fact that his name is Aubrey) put it.
Unless we stop enabling them, they will do whatever it takes for that to come true.
– Ahmed Alowaish
Illustration by Johanna Goodman