Friday, March 11, 2011

On Charlie Sheen's Poetry (and Violence)

So, don't get me wrong -- I'm kind of jacked about how jacked the American public is about Charlie Sheen's use of language in the past few weeks -- not just USE of language. We're calling it poetry. (And Sheen does have an out of print collection of poetry that someone's gotten their hands on and is leaking. Esquire?)

I'm jacked that the word "poetry" -- even if connected with Sheen -- is getting so much air time.

And, seriously, this is some interestingly manic verbiage --

"They lay down with their ugly wives
and their ugly children
and just look at their loser lives."

"Can’t is the cancer of happen."

"My partying made Sinatra, Jagger, Dean Martin...
look like a buncha droppy-eyed armless children."

Not to mention all the melting faces, weeping, and tiger blood.

Would I prefer America to be talking about Terrance Hayes' National Book Award-winning poetry instead? What's wrong with a little Rachel Zucker, huh?

Still, I've been thinking -- yes, America, language. Let's use it with some drama and flair. Let's unhitch the mind from "we've got to step up our game" and "at the end of the day" and "been there, done that" to something, at least, making some kind of effort at articulation.

But here's the hitch to unhitching: Sheen's unhitched. I'm no psychoanalyst, but his language is violent, dark, egomaniacal -- in a kind of indestructible (self-destructive) I-am-Iron Man way. I've known people who've come unhitched; language changes and things can go badly quickly.

For all of our pumped up, train-wreck-attentiveness to Sheen's spiral (upward/downward or just on crazy spin cycle), we're watching someone who's really sick. People magazine has quoted him as saying to his ex-wife and mother of his children, "I will cut your head off, put it in a box, and send it to your mom," and threatening to stab her eye with a pen knife. His hyped-up manic violent rhetoric defending his carnal lifestyle is fine, but this isn't.

Google "Charlie Sheen Violence Against Women" and you'll see a dark violent pattern of behavior -- starting in 1990 -- guns, knives, restraining orders, busted lip, choking, blow to the head, knocked out, death threats... This history needs to take up a much larger part of the discussion.

We all know it won't end prettily. And watching and listening to it makes me feel guilty and a little sick inside. Maybe he's speaking to a lot of people's inner self -- the one that is tired of conforming, tired of ordinary, boxed-up, tidy living -- who want a little tiger blood, who want to live an unapologetic "bitchin' rock star from Mars" life.

That's not my reaction. Watching Sheen makes me think of his family who's known him since he was just a little boy -- back when maybe we was a "soft target," and all the sweeter for it.

Mainly, it makes me want to get snuggle in bed and be an ugly wife with an ugly husband, hugging my ugly kids in my ugly house with my ugly dogs.

In other words, long live our loser lives.