It is a time of great reckoning. A time when an anxious, troubled nation huddles in tight clusters of fear and uncertainty, shot through with far too much war, economic grief, Tea Party idiocy, iffy cell phone reception and low-level karmic doom.
But wait! Just when all seems lost... look! Yonder! Could it be? It is! A dazzling beacon winks out from the savage darkness. We are saved! Let us now wheel in the hookers and Veuve Clicquot and large bazookas full of cocaine! God bless America.
Behold, he hath risen. Every generation, every year, every gaseous cultural hiccup, a new god/demon/pariah emerges upon whom we can project all our fantasies and neurosis, fears and judgments, outermost Tweets and innermost grunts. Said humanoid must be an attention slut of great self-import who effortlessly flips between conquering hero and ravaged victim, depending on our collective whim. Last year? Tiger Woods, with a Mel Gibson/Lindsay Lohan chaser.
So far, 2011 is turning out to be Charlie Sheen's year, though it's still far too early to call it, and Miley Cyrus appears to be a single Ketamine porn shoot away from total cataclysm, who the hell knows what's happening to Lindsay and doesn't Adam Sandler appear to be on the knife edge of, well, something sadistic and chemically terminal? 'Tis quite the most tremendous thing about American celeb-death fetishism: No one has the slightest clue who might be next. Awesome.
This much we do know for sure: We are enthralled. Sheen came outta seemingly nowhere and exploded like a roman candle made of black diamonds, boundless drugs and unimaginable floods of money, spewing bloody shards of glass amidst hilarious, impossible syntax, happily raising his glistening middle finger to AA, God, the media and even our beloved President Bartlet, all at once.
And lo, the new savior was born. Or rather, revealed. Oozed forth. Popped like a cyst. And so on.
But oh, we have chosen well. Charlie does not disappoint. Much to our collective delight, Sheen has turned out to be some sort of smart-ass PR genius/careening train wreck of mediocre talent hitched to an artistically malformed TV show that freely rapes the brainstems of umpteen million viewers a week as it hawks Round Table Pizza and Toyota Camrys in between ghastly one-liners concocted by Klonopin-popping 12-year-olds who live in Malibu and still masturbate to Penthouse.com.
In other words, Two and a Half Men is (or rather, was) absolutely perfect. It is quintessential, premium-grade American schlock, the finest in vacuous, moderately demeaning bullshit entertainment we can possibly concoct next to Jersey Shore and maybe Bristol Palin's upcoming book. It's a huge and blinding cubic zirconium of imminent soul death. What, too much? As if.
Hence and by extension, Charlie Sheen is perfect. A spectacularly middling actor of no real import with decent comic timing, a razor wit and a thing for cocaine, porn stars, polyamory, multiple kids and hilariously nonsensical, megalomaniacal verbal zingers, all oversprinkled with tantalizing dustings of domestic violence and tabloid sensationalism. Like we say about God, the devil and Karl Rove, if Sheen didn't exist, we'd have to invent him.
And why? Because...
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Mark Morford is the author of The Daring Spectacle: Adventures in Deviant Journalism, a mega-collection of his finest columns for the SF Chronicle and SFGate. Get it at Amazon and beyond. He recently wrote a fine letter to whiny young Democrats, a column about why you are always walking in circles, and the trouble with the Arcade Fire. His website is markmorford.com. Join him on Facebook, or email him. Not to mention...