Flipping through the channels last night, the Better Half and I came upon the Comedy Central roast of Charlie Sheen. My feelings were that roasting Charlie Sheen is like hunting a caged turkey, but the fascination of watching a slow motion train wreck caused us to pause for a few moments. I lasted ten minutes before we had to change the channel.
Pardon me while I clutch my pearls, but there was something truly disturbing about the whole ordeal. It’s not merely that Sheen is a self-destructive mess, whose debauchery makes Anna Nicole Smith look like Florence Nightingale. He seems far more sad than amusing to me, but sitting around while a bunch of D-listers and has-beens makes fun of him is hardly the worst of his problems.
What’s really bringing out my inner bluenose is the casual way the roasters joked about Sheen’s history of violence toward women. His abusing his wife and menacing hookers were just two more things to joke about, along with zingers about “tiger blood” and cracks about his rampant drug use. I don’t care if he hoovers up a mountain of cocaine or drinks enough to give a rhino cirrhosis. Laugh it up. But threatening your wife with a knife isn’t funny.
I know, I know. Hookers are walking punchlines. But those women Sheen terrorized didn’t exist merely as some abstract comedy concept. They were actual people, feeling actual fear for themselves. Being hookers, we laugh at them because hey, they’re hookers! They kind of asked for it, right? But women don’t choose a life of prostitution for the glamor, and usually end up there as the result of some pretty damn tragic circumstance or another. They don’t deserve to be locked in a closet or have their lives threatened any more than anyone else does.
Doubtless I come off as a humorless scold for griping about this, but I really do think it’s shameful to blithely joke about Sheen’s violence against women. If people want to yuck themselves silly while he melts what remains of his brain and turns his lungs and liver and kidneys into creosote, I couldn’t possibly care less. Something something free country, and all that. But it’s a different thing altogether to serially assault women, and laughing along with him makes it far too easy to pretend it’s OK. It’s really, really not.