March 1, 2011 Read Later When I arrived in Detroit to intern at the Free Press many years ago, I saw a local character dressed in a bright yellow rain slicker, no matter the weather, theatrically directing traffic in front of the Cadillac hotel. He was there every day. My troop of interns suggested to our editors that he’d be a story. Apparently every group of interns had the same idea. And the editor sternly admonished us that we shouldn’t exploit the man’s insanity. Nuts aren’t news.
I wish that same editor would give the same lecture to Piers Morgan at CNN and the news departments at NBC and ABC regarding Charlie Sheen.
So why are they interviewing him? Not because they expect him to say smart things that give insight. Neither are they trying to give a picture of mental illness, for they give no context. On Piers Morgan’s nightly exhibition of ratings neediness, the star dismissed doctors’ mentions of bipolar disease and then Morgan stepped up to give him a clean bill of mental health, telling Sheen he is “alarmingly normal.” I think in the field they call that enabling.
What Sheen does may be news. What his network didn’t do is also news – when he abused women, they kept him on the air to keep the ratings he gets. What his network did do is news – they yanked him only after he issued a manic rant against his producer.
But is what Sheen says in his haze of insanity or drugs newsworthy? I don’t think so. I think it’s exploitation. They want him to act nutty. Ratings, man, ratings.
Sorry to say even though I try to ignore entertainment news Sheen is one train wreck I’ve found irresistible.
But Jarvis makes some good points, exploiting people’s mental illness for ratings if pretty despicable even if they are seeking media attention (maybe a symbiotic psychosis?).
To me what’s more pathetic are so-called “reality” shows like Intervention & America’s Most Overweight (or whatever).