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The Charlie Sheen Has Worn Off

Mar 11 2011
This Lent, given the disturbed actor's slow self-wrecking, I'd like to fast from celebrity news.

For the past few months, Charlie Sheen has given our distraction-hungry culture a particularly delectable snack. "Hey look over here!" he grins. His grandiose, self-delusional bragging, his unapologetic hedonism, and his remarkable ability—whether it's a result of mental illness, years of heavy drug use, that "Adonis DNA," or a combination of the three—to call the broken parts of his life whole is stunning.


The disturbed actor has been offering us the intimate details of his life on a plate, and we've been grabbing them by the handful, wolfing them down, and licking our fingers in expectation for the next course. But, after a few weeks of noshing on Charlie's braggadocio and the perverse details of his life, the novelty of it is—forgive me—losing its sheen. We're sick of hearing about him, but no worries: there's an app for that.

Our culture wipes its mouth with the back of its hand and glances absentmindedly around the room. What's next, we wonder. We want a new distraction.

Well, we could divert our gaze toward the April wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. The Internet buzz gets louder and we turn our heads toward important questions such as: Is the bride-to-be getting too skinny? Could she be pregnant? How does she compare with her fiancfamp;copy;'s iconic mother. Hmm … like Princess Diana, Middleton 29, is admired as a fashion icon, commits herself to charitable causes, and, of course, is adored by William. But is she a mere "commoner?" (Was Diana? What does that mean, anyway?)

When Charles and Diana were married at St. Paul's Cathedral in 1981, an estimated 600,000 people lined the streets in hopes of catching a glimpse of Diana on her way past. I know. I was one of them. As her carriage rolled by, flanked by white-wigged footmen, I saw her for one fleeting, thrilling moment. It was, indeed, like seeing a fairy tale come to life.

Fast forward to a summer day in 1997, when Americans woke up to learn that Princess Diana had died. By then, we knew that her marriage to Prince Charles had been anything but a fairy tale. (Well, maybe more like one by The Brothers Grimm, not by Walt Disney.) She died after being injured in a car crash, the result of her driver going twice the speed limit to avoid paparazzi.

A few weeks later, I dreamt about Diana. She and I were standing inside a circus tent that was bursting with noise, prancing elephants, oscillating spotlights, and hoards of people. She was frightened and shaking. When I asked her what was wrong, she just smiled that famous smile. A moment later, a man's voice barked her name and, in response, she climbed up into the open mouth of a large cannon.

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The Charlie Sheen Has Worn Off