Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Is the media as delusional as Charlie Sheen?

"What's going on in the head of Charlie Sheen?" That was the question leading off the ABC interview of Sheen on 20/20 Tuesday night, but Sheen was allowed to ramble on incoherently for the next hour without the question ever being answered.

One thing is clear. Sheen is coming mentally unhinged in a very public forum.

Originally the story was an actual news item. CBS had canceled filming on Sheen's sitcom Two and a Half Men for the rest of the season. Then the story began to focus on Sheen's odd behavior. Every major news network, including politically-oriented networks like MSNBC and Fox News, have taken the story and run with it, even as it has turned into something less like a news item and more like a desperate scramble for ratings at the expense of Sheen's mental health.

Celebrity addiction expert Drew Pinsky told TMZ: "It's no joke. He's getting manic. These are bipolar, manic symptoms."

Many medical professionals agree with Pinsky that Sheen is exhibiting bipolar symptoms, although they caution against diagnosing him based on media sound bites.

Whether bipolar disorder is the cause of Sheen's erratic and grandiose behavior, or whether it is caused by drug intoxication or even withdrawal, the question is no longer: "What's going on in the head of Charlie Sheen". It's "What's going on in the heads of TV news executives who report Sheen's manic rantings as news?"

Unlike other celebrities who have suffered similar meltdowns such as Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan, no one in Sheen's inner circle is able to reign him in. So he's out there, rambling incoherently, and the news reporters are hanging on every word, laughing at every "joke", as if Sheen is actually making any sense.

The media can be excused for wanting to jump on the ratings bandwagon, but it is clear that Sheen is delusional, and the real question is: "When someone is coming mentally unhinged and in serious need of medical attention, how can it be ethical to enable him by encouraging his delusional behavior?"

What may be amusement for TV viewers is serious business. Unless someone steps in and helps Sheen, the only way this story ends is in complete destruction.