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"Banksy gets it more than just about anyone right now"
March 16, 2011 11:48 PM   Subscribe

"To someone my age (47) Keith Richards (67) in his memoir Life has a kind of rare healthy post-Empire geezer transparency. But for my younger friends, it’s no longer rare; it’s now just the norm. What does shame mean anymore? my friends in their 20s ask. Why in the hell did your boyfriend post a song called 'Suck My Ballz' on Facebook last night? my mom asks. But nothing yet compares to the transparency that Sheen has unleashed in the past two weeks—contempt about celebrity, his profession, the old Empire world order..." Bret Easton Ellis on Charlie Sheen and the worlds of pre- and post-"Empire," i.e., celebrity.
posted by bardic (110 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
I don't get it.
posted by jrochest at 11:58 PM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Bret, stop trying to make "Empire" happen! It's not going to happen!
posted by Jon Mitchell at 12:13 AM on March 17, 2011 [31 favorites]


Shorter Bret Easton Ellis: assholes are the new black.
posted by jasperella at 12:18 AM on March 17, 2011 [15 favorites]


Post-Empire isn’t just about admitting doing “illicit” things publicly and coming clean—it’s a (for now) radical attitude that says the Empire lie doesn’t exist anymore, you friggin’ Empire trolls

Dude, there is no cabal.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:20 AM on March 17, 2011


Banksy, Keith Richards, and Charlie Sheen walk into a bar...

Sorry, I thought I was going somewhere with that...
posted by twoleftfeet at 12:22 AM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I actually agree with BEE here in most aspects. But his desire to coin a term is really annoying. My primary disagreement is based on the fact that these cultural changes have been going on for quite a while in a very gradual fashion to the extent that Sheen heralds nothing particularly new. The part I strongly agree with is that Sheen's candor and wit are pretty refreshing and amusing, and he does seem quite lucid to me. In short, it's strange to find myself mostly agreeing with a piece that annoys the fuck out of me.
posted by Edgewise at 12:30 AM on March 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


So... he's talking about a concept that only he really believed in in the first place, but now it doesn't exist any more even inside his own head.

OK.

That's sort of like saying unicorns are extinct, isn't it?
posted by Grangousier at 12:32 AM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


So I actually quite like some of Bret Easton Ellis' fiction, but I found that pretty scattered, so I have to ask: By "Empire" does he basically mean "reverent of the Hollywood establishment"? And if so, how does Charlie Sheen's moment of post-Empire reconcile itself that there are people out there who, as we speak, are reading signed copies of Snooki's novel?
posted by gompa at 12:34 AM on March 17, 2011


. . . reconcile itself with the fact that there are . . .
posted by gompa at 12:36 AM on March 17, 2011


Winning - A Song by Charlie Sheen

Has Ellis been reading Valis?
posted by benzenedream at 12:39 AM on March 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


I hate articles that seem like a Spy list. I guess that makes me Empire?
posted by dhartung at 12:47 AM on March 17, 2011


Is this where the Empire strikes back?
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:53 AM on March 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Muha
posted by clavdivs at 12:56 AM on March 17, 2011


@ benzenedream: No, but I think Charlie Sheen has.
posted by KingEdRa at 1:09 AM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Post-Empire is the new Punk.
posted by artof.mulata at 1:11 AM on March 17, 2011


Bret Easton Ellis, categorizing people into those who 'get it' like a nervous 12 year old girl, doesn't get it.
posted by delmoi at 1:12 AM on March 17, 2011 [13 favorites]


Yeah, I agree that calling the Hollywood establishment "Empire" is ridiculous in the first place, and calling the current situation 'post-empire' is even dumber. What he really means is 'post-pretense'. Sure, the internet has created a chaotic method to fame but it's something that churns up Rebbecca Blacks and Double Rainbow guys, not the top talent in the world. What's it's really done is laid bare the lie that mass culture ever cared about talent in the first place.

Or something like that.
posted by delmoi at 1:18 AM on March 17, 2011 [18 favorites]


or something exactly like that.
posted by artof.mulata at 1:22 AM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Speaking of "the new celeberty". The awkward dancing girl in Rebbecca Black's video Has a Tumbler now.
posted by delmoi at 1:33 AM on March 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


I would wring my eyes out and chew them dry if I never had to read about Bret Easton Ellis OR Mr. Sheen again. I'm not shocked, I'm not offended, and I'm certainly not entertained. Shame is an art; It is more than 15 minutes of fly-by-your-fat-mouth bit of stooge attention, from other stooges observing you. I am tired of sitting here everyday seeing more and more pointless articles and wondering: What do these guys have to offer me? At this point, I can't imagine Sarah Palin not getting in on it. And that is unfortunate. Go media.
posted by JLovebomb at 1:36 AM on March 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


So, old Hollywood is over?
posted by robself at 1:43 AM on March 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Claiming that you "get it" that mass culture does not give a shit about talent and is merely interested in primitive base titillation is an Empiresque statement while my exclamation of this fact is even more so. But what would Charlie say? Would he call me out as just another vulture pecking his half digested once-foods spilling from his intestines? Flies on piles of niblets soaked in ether...
posted by Sir BoBoMonkey Pooflinger Esquire III at 1:44 AM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Vampires are so 2009.



Wait, what?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:42 AM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I haven't heard any of Sheen's interviews since the recording of that explosion on Alex Jones radio show, so I cannot say what may have happened since. I can say that listening to that one interview, I was listening to a mentally ill man. Might be that illness sprung from a huge coke run, might be that he quit taking whatever medications he needs to be on to treat whatever it is he has going on, maybe he just wigged out, finally. Who knows? Not I. But I do know what I heard, who I heard -- he was completely 'round the bend. He was gone. Lost. He'd looped the fucking loop.

And that is sad, actually, truth be told, we've been watching a train wreck happen before our eyes and we want to give it spiffy little names, we want to clap at the antics of the bad boy and call things empire or establishment or whatever. But here is the spiffy little name describing what I heard in that interview: Mental Illness. Yeah, Mental Illness doesn't perhaps have the panache of empire or whatever other word but hey, go with what is.

I don't care how many whores he runs with and how much drinking and drugging and carousing he does, quite frankly, it'd be amusing to watch, had I not heard what I heard. The writer of that essay does have that right; it is fun to watch a guy live out the tawdry dream, the tackiness in it all, roll around in pig-shit, have himself some fun -- cool. And listening to him talk about the straights with their ugly fat wives and ugly fat kids and ugly fat mirrors to look into and their own ugly fat lives to look at -- who hasn't wanted, at one time or another, who hasn't wanted to tell some ugly fat fuck exactly how ugly, fat, and fucked his life is? The fact that Sheen does it, that's amusing, for sure. Cute.

Except that maybe it isn't. If it's just the rantings/ravings of a loosey-goosey, spoilt-brat, drinking, drugging, whoring addict, well, fun fun fun, let 'er rip, hopefully he'll crash bad enough to hurt bad enough to have incentive to set it all down -- again --before it kills him. But I don't think that's what it is that we're seeing, I don't think it's fun fun fun, it is for sure rantings and ravings but they're disconnected and disjointed and disoriented and rambling and spinning and twirling off into nothingness and nowhere. The guy is psychotic. If he didn't have millions of dollars, he'd be on a lock-down unit in a psych ward in no time at all. Fact.

Oh, another thing I heard crystal clear, not one doubt about it, is that he is absolutely furious at 12 step recovery programs and the people in them. Man oh man, is he ever resentful! Whoa. The intimate knowledge of how the recovery process bolts together and of the people who he'd likely meet there leads me to the clear understanding that he was in the recovery community, and not just for ten minutes, either; he knows the lay of the land. And for whatever reason -- or none at all, of course -- he started drinking/drugging/whatever-ing again and he's back in 'the life' and I've seen this fourteen thousand times, this unbelievable, unremitting antagonism toward the processes involved in the recovery community, once you're no longer involved in it.

Listen to him tee off on this -- you don't act that way unless you're really, truly angry, or, rather, more accurately, you don't act that way unless you're very resentful. He's got him a good case of it. It didn't work for him and now he's extrapolating that onto the whole of it, it's like if I broke my leg and went to qualified people to get it fixed and they did what they could but then I took the cast off and started jumping up and down, and my leg is hurting terribly again, so I blame the people who didn't fix it, rather than myself for being a dope.

I'm not saying here that if he'd stayed in the 12 step community he'd not have gone nuts -- you cannot treat mental illness with the 12 steps, any more than you can successfully treat alcoholism with drugs alone; I know it can happen but mostly it doesn't. If a person has both alcoholism and mental illness issues of whatever variety, he must treat both of those and he/she must do so concurrently and it can get to be a huge fucking drag and completely overwhelming at times, and easy to just give up on it all. That said, the step work done by the member of a recovery community can truly help him offset the impact of mental illness in his life, just as the correct medication -- better living through chemistry -- and psychotherapy can help treat the persons addiction issues. Neither of those states exists in a vacuum when both are present, they work together to tear a person down; conversely, treatment of one can help the treatment of the other, too...

I'm going on. Bad habit. I guess what I'm saying here is this: Sheen is fuct. F-U-C-T fuct. TL:DR? Sheen is fuct. He's got dangerous terrain in every direction he can look into. He's got no one strong enough to face him down through his piles of money. Because his life is interesting he's sold himself on thinking it's cool. Because he's doing the whoring/drinking/drugging/carousing thing and thumbing his nose at everything and everyone, he thinks he's super-cool, got it made it the shade, and he's stubborn enough that he's not going to change unless/until he's broken down real goddamn well. Pray for his lame, proud, dumb ass if you believe in prayer, think good thoughts for him in any case, think some lithium thoughts his way, maybe some luck, too; this poor bastard is lost.
posted by dancestoblue at 3:20 AM on March 17, 2011 [27 favorites]


So Empire is a useless concept for what dude's trying to sell. The Monolith or something would have been better for what he's talking about. He could have talked about cracks in the foundation, all that. He doesn't even use Empire for anything. Fucking Post-Empire, that's it?! Seriously terrible choice. Post-X is basically admitting upfront that you don't have anything new to add because if you did you'd have a fucking word for it wouldn't you? Define your ideas and defend them or don't bother.

Charlie Sheen is a rich troubled person doing what rich troubled people do. Remember when Brittney getting a haircut was a thing? This is that, only even more obnoxious because people who should know better are talking about it as if it were new.
posted by Peztopiary at 3:21 AM on March 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


All you hates just dont "get it". Sucks to be you - empire lackies!
posted by greenhornet at 3:26 AM on March 17, 2011


I'm not a psychiatrist, and I'm definitely not Charlie Sheen's psychiatrist, so I'm not about to diagnose him. I will, however, say this: I know what it looks like when someone has a manic episode. I know what they do and what they say. And they look just like Charlie Sheen.
posted by Faint of Butt at 3:28 AM on March 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


...but someone gets in right before the doors shut and instinctively I turn to say hello. It's the actor Charlie Sheen, who lives in the penthouse, and as a courtesy, without asking him, I press the PH button and he nods thank you and keeps his eyes fixed on the numbers lighting up above the door in rapid succession. He is much shorter in person and he's wearing the same pair of black Wayfarers I have on. He's dressed in blue jeans, a white T-shirt, an Armani jacket.

To break the noticeably uncomfortable silence, I clear my throat and say, "I thought you were very fine in Squadron. I though it was quite a good movie, and Wall Street too. I really thought that was good."

He looks away from the numbers and then straight at me. "It was called Platoon," he says softly.

"Pardon?" I say, confused.

He clears his throat and says, "Platoon. Not Squadron. The film was called Platoon."

A long pause follows; just the sound of cables moving the elevator up higher into the building competes with the silence, obvious and heavy between us.

"Oh yeah...right," I say, as if the title just dawned on me. "Platoon. Oh yeah, that's right," I say. "Great, Bateman, what are you thinking about?" I shake my head as if to clear it and then, to patch things up, hold out my hand. "Hi. Pat Bateman."

"Oh, yeah?" he says, ignoring my hand and backing away like something feral, something forgotten. "Well, I'm Charlie Sheen and I'm tired of pretending I'm not a total bitchin' rock star from Mars! I'm on a drug. You know what that drug is called? It's called Charlie Sheen. It's not available because if you try it you will die. Your face will melt off and your children will weep over your exploded body. It's been a tsunami of media and I've been riding it on a mercury surfboard. Imagine what I would have done with my fire-breathing fists."

This is followed by a sigh, then a slight shrug and another sigh, and above the doors the numbers melt and trickle into one another, and they form a sign in letters that match the red of Charlie Sheen's eyes and the words on that sign tell me THIS IS NOT AN EXIT.
posted by tumid dahlia at 3:52 AM on March 17, 2011 [33 favorites]


Mr. Ellis should totally join MeFi. That is some first class Sheen bean plating there.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:57 AM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Do you mean...SHEEN-PLATING?
posted by tumid dahlia at 3:58 AM on March 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Has anyone noticed that Charlie Sheen, for all his madness, has not gone the REAL madness route in America. His notoriously "out of control" mouth has not uttered a single racial slur. You can be sure the day the "N" word slips out, or the day he reveals the Jewish conspiracy, is the day America loses patience with his rants, and he goes the way of Michael Richards or that ugly fashion guy. But you can be pretty sure he's got that under control. He's not THAT crazy.
posted by Faze at 4:02 AM on March 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


"...the one John Hughes teen movie that has remained the least dated."

This sentence should not have appeared in a published article.
posted by Cantdosleepy at 4:06 AM on March 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


"What this moment is about is Charlie Sheen solo people capitalizing on the pulic fall of the current cultural thing of the day."
posted by Fizz at 4:10 AM on March 17, 2011


Faze,

Umm...you may have missed some of his "Chaim Levine" bits. I don't think Stormfront did, though.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:24 AM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow, is that Tumblr really the dancing girl from the Friday video? I think I really like her. (I hope this is the only time anyone will ever mention her within three sentences of Charlie Sheen's craziness.)
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:29 AM on March 17, 2011


Maybe Bret Easton Ellis isn't getting as much of it as he used to.
posted by flabdablet at 4:46 AM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Except that maybe it isn't. If it's just the rantings/ravings of a loosey-goosey, spoilt-brat, drinking, drugging, whoring addict, well, fun fun fun, let 'er rip, hopefully he'll crash bad enough to hurt bad enough to have incentive to set it all down -- again --before it kills him. But I don't think that's what it is that we're seeing, I don't think it's fun fun fun, it is for sure rantings and ravings but they're disconnected and disjointed and disoriented and rambling and spinning and twirling off into nothingness and nowhere. The guy is psychotic. If he didn't have millions of dollars, he'd be on a lock-down unit in a psych ward in no time at all. Fact.
Do you ever listen to the Alex Jones show? The whole point of that show is to say crazy shit. Alex Jones says far crazier stuff then, for example, Glenn Beck. If you read the article, you can see that he's given other and seemed much more coherent (apparently). And he's passed drug tests.

I mean I'm not saying the guy isn't nuts, or isn't just a little off, or whatever. But saying crazy shit doesn't actually mean you are functionally insane.
posted by delmoi at 4:50 AM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow. That article is dripping with some primo lady-contempt.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 4:52 AM on March 17, 2011 [14 favorites]


What a pointless article. I never liked Ellis' books although it was fun hating on the rich druggie kids.
posted by jonmc at 5:04 AM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Speaking of "the new celeberty". The awkward dancing girl in Rebbecca Black's video Has a Tumbler now.

Speaking of awkward, here's a new dancing girl that should be featured in a video that will be featured in a Tumblr.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:05 AM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, I reiterate that for brevity, we should a la J.Lo and LiLo, start reffering to Mr. sheen as "ChaShee."
posted by jonmc at 5:15 AM on March 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


While the "Empire" metaphor is perhaps a bit much--dude, if you're going to throw a new capitalized term out there, bother to define it--I think there's some good insight here. Who hasn't wanted to tell the suits to go fuck themselves? I wish I had been able to do more of that when I left my last job.
posted by valkyryn at 5:39 AM on March 17, 2011


Shorter Ellis: If you still "get" shame, you're too old.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:40 AM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bret Easton Ellis is full of shit in general, and this is no exception. He's never had any particular talent except for describing awful people in an affectless style--a trick that he repeats again and again, like Chubby Checker doing one song after another about the Twist--and I don't think that it's an accident that he didn't like the film of American Psycho, which is the only version of any of his works that I like.

And, so, now he's decided that The Next Big Thing is kicking celebrity worship to the curb, shortly after his sequel to Less Than Zero failed to make any sort of dent in the public psyche--what a coincidence. He comes off as the sort of middle-aged creep who would describe Taylor Swift as "one of [John] Mayer’s leftovers".
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:49 AM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wish people would stop egging on Charlie Sheen like this.

If you known anyone or any people with any kind of addiction, you've probably been in the situation where you encounter them in the middle of a bender on their drug of choice. They're sitting in a bar having a great time, surrounded by friends they've just met, cracking jokes, knocking back shots, and they greet you enthusiastically and tell you to have a drink; and you say something dumb like "hey, don't you think you've had about enough", because you've got to say something and you don't want to encourage him like all those parasites around him watching and waiting for him to fall apart in an amusing way, and he claps you on the shoulder and says something like "hey man, I'm just getting started!" and everyone cheers, and he shoots you this smug, complacent, shit-eating grin because he's having a great time, and you smile weakly and turn away because you know he is having a great time, just like he was the last time, before you found him curled up on the floor of the toilets a few hours later whimpering and babbling about suicide; because the problem with their addiction isn't that they don't have a great time when they're using, the problem is what happens when they try to stop or can't stop.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 6:02 AM on March 17, 2011 [14 favorites]


I hadn't been following the Sheen Show and one morning I found myself talking about it with the VP of my company, who described some of his recent antics and wanted to know what I thought was going on. After a bit of review, what I think has happened is that Sheen is channeling the Marquis de Sade -- not his sexual paraphilia (Sadism), but definitely his philosophy (Egoism, because we already used Sadism to describe something else). Sade believed that the only thing of any real importance to an individual person is your own feelings, and that to do anything other than maximize your own pleasure and sensation was a denial of your fundamental, natural self.

Sheen's late-life revelation is small beer next to Sade, though, who stuck to his philosophy from his twenties throughout his entire life despite spending nearly half of that life imprisoned because of what he wrote. Then again, Sade lived in a country that was swirling down the toilet as it was plundered by aristocracies consisting mostly of self-serving larcenous hypocrites, while today ... um ...
posted by localroger at 6:04 AM on March 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


Dear Bret Easton Ellis ,

Gretchen, stop trying to make fetch happen.

If you don't get that reference, you should Google it as it will help you get some of the Humor above. If you must do this, however, you're too inside the Empire to really matter. But given you've just tried to write a Provocative article on Celebrity for the new media arm of freakin' Newsweek, I think we knew that already.

Also, writing an article whose Central Premise demands recognition of the Awesomeness of a person while continually dismissing the abuse of women that is at the center of this person's actions seems just about as Old Order as one can get.

Sincerely,
MCMikeNamara

P.S. I hope this letter shows that when you decide to just start capitalizing nouns to make your point, you look like a Douche.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 6:18 AM on March 17, 2011 [10 favorites]


i have this idea for a cable-tv interview show where Debord is reanimated and compelled to act as host with duties including interviewing the relentless stream of celebrity guests except, that on air and in the studio are a range of instruments of suicide: pills, guns, knives, ropes, etc. each subtly sabotaged as to be ineffective so that the moment debord reaches for the gun, there is bang, he faints away from the shock and is revived a few moments later by his celebrity guest and the interview continues.
posted by ennui.bz at 6:20 AM on March 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Post-X is basically admitting upfront that you don't have anything new to add

Charlie should mix it up and go Pre-Raphaelite on us.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:23 AM on March 17, 2011


The fact that so many more people care about what Charlie Sheen does more than what the Koch Brothers do is so Empire.

Did I conjugate that correctly?
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:30 AM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


At first I thought this post was going to be about Keith Richards and I was all excited. (I just finished his book last night.)
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 6:34 AM on March 17, 2011


Shorter Ellis: If you still "get" shame, you're too old.

The GOP should hire Ellis. Maybe they already have.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:36 AM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dude, if you're going to say that THIS is "Empire," and THAT is soooo "post-Empire," define your effing terms! Gah.
posted by pised at 6:37 AM on March 17, 2011


Wow. That article is dripping with some primo lady-contempt.

So is American Psycho and most of BEE's fiction. Mary Harron gave "American Psycho" a good and proper meta-working-over and showed it up for what it really was.

Basically, Ellis pines for the days when his Fiction Ruled the Publishing World -- i.e., though he bashes Empire, he secretly longs and aches for Empire, because Empire was when his stuff still mattered, when his appearance on the dustjacket of a book could inspire a collective frisson all over the literati landscape. Back in the days when he could drop "as the Orientals call it, U.C.R.A." and "Jew.S.C." jokes in his books and have it be seen as edgy, not as the unwitting inspiration for lame-ass racist YouTube rants by privileged undergrads more than half his age.

Frankly, though I thought certain aspects of this piece were pretty dead-on, I think Douglas Coupland does this shtick a hell of a lot better (and always has).
posted by blucevalo at 6:39 AM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


hollywood attention whore uses political philosophy term without knowing what the hell it means? but of course :P
posted by liza at 6:49 AM on March 17, 2011


Articles about 'getting it' are just designed to trap the young and pretentious into thinking they 'get it', while the truth remains there isn't really any 'it' to get.
posted by Summer at 6:50 AM on March 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Bret Easton Ellis talking about shame just blows my mind. He is a huge celeb-schmoozer, name-dropper, and he's that guy that puts down the rich because he knows he's not going to be them, and he wants it so bad it hurts; wanting the rich-boy life imbues every cell in his body. American Psycho, the book, was so vile and woman-hating that my bookstore chose not to stock it unless a customer ordered it. I'd call him a fatuous dupe, but he's still got some cred in the East Coast literary establishment, as witness this article in Tina Brown's Dailybeast. In case I didn't make it clear, he epitomizes shamelessness.
posted by theora55 at 7:04 AM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Even shorter Ellis: Remember me? Buy my books!
posted by Thorzdad at 7:08 AM on March 17, 2011


First, I hate his use of the term Empire. We were already using it for something else that is actually well-defined and analytically useful, thank you very much. Just ask Al Jazeera.

Second, how can celebrities like Chelsea Handler or the Kardashians be "post-Empire" if we only know of their existing through "Empire" cable channels?

His whole point seems to be that post-Empire means simply people in the media calling the media out on its fakeness. Are people still playing this game "the media is so fake"? No shit it's fake. It was fake from the moment Milton Berle delivered his first monologue. Are we going to pretend that that Society of the Spectacle and Within the Context of No Context were never written?

Or, instead, should I simply conclude that Ellis himself has never read them? And if so, what does it say about the culture when one of its (former) trendsetters hasn't read the two most cutting works on the subject?

Because if you read those books, you realize that Sheen isn't post anything. If TV is the context of 300 million projected onto the scale of the context of one (the viewer), obliterating any intermediate or local context, then the function of celebrity is to create within the scale of 300 million the sense of closeness and personal familiarity that would otherwise be lost and the source of a frightening alienation. But all Sheen has done here is substitute his celebrity, his scale of one, for the scale of 300 million. All he's done is cut out the middleman. Celebrity is simply conferred by the mere fact of being on TV, regardless of what it's for. You don't need a show or an act. You just need to get on TV.

Charlie Sheen used to be on TV by being hired as an actor on a sitcom. But then he figured out it was his celebrity that was carrying the show-his celebrity status had such a strong gravitational attraction is was pulling others along with him. But it was also pulling him back a bit. So he realized he could do some crazy shit and get on TV even more, and break free of the dead weight. Now his celebrity status is conferred simply by virtue of his being a celebrity who did crazy things.

Ellis goes wrong where he celebrates this result--this post-Empire--as some new authenticity or some new truth. No. This represents the clearest reason yet why TV sucks.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:10 AM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


What Sheen has exemplified and has clarified is the moment in the culture when not giving a fuck about what the public thinks about you or your personal life is what matters most—and what makes the public love you even more

And hence this is Empire's new trope, you waterhead.
posted by fleetmouse at 7:12 AM on March 17, 2011


The excess of fat on your American bones
Will cushion the impact as you sink like a stone.
posted by larry_darrell at 7:25 AM on March 17, 2011


This might be the best thing Bret Easton Ellis has ever written.
posted by koeselitz at 7:27 AM on March 17, 2011


(I don't mean it's good.)
posted by koeselitz at 7:29 AM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Because if you read those books, you realize that Sheen isn't post anything. If TV is the context of 300 million projected onto the scale of the context of one (the viewer), obliterating any intermediate or local context, then the function of celebrity is to create within the scale of 300 million the sense of closeness and personal familiarity that would otherwise be lost and the source of a frightening alienation. But all Sheen has done here is substitute his celebrity, his scale of one, for the scale of 300 million. All he's done is cut out the middleman. Celebrity is simply conferred by the mere fact of being on TV, regardless of what it's for. You don't need a show or an act. You just need to get on TV."

Dude, I think you have one kick ass term paper ready for the A- it deserves.
posted by En0rm0 at 7:41 AM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I "get it" so much. I didn't even have to finish the article.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:45 AM on March 17, 2011


theora55: In case I didn't make it clear, he epitomizes shamelessness.

I don't think he epitomizes it. I think he epitomized it in 1987. There are far, far more expert practitioners of shamelessness these days, and the sad part for Mr. Ellis is that they have more fame doing what they do instantaneously now than he ever had in his heyday working 1000 times as hard as his shameless pawn.

Enorm0: Dude, I think you have one kick ass term paper ready for the A- it deserves.

Envious?
posted by blucevalo at 7:50 AM on March 17, 2011


Christ that read like a desperate attempt to his editor to float a new book idea.
posted by modernnomad at 8:03 AM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think he actually means post-propriety.
posted by mikeh at 8:03 AM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm tempted to print this article and put it in a shoe box under my bed with the words "reasons to move to the mountains and cut all ties with modern society" written in thick black ink on the top.

Among other things, the box also contains a DVD with several episodes of the The Bachelor and an earworn copy of Walden.
posted by jnrussell at 8:07 AM on March 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Very interesting. I don't think any of us knows the truth of what lies at the core of Sheen's action...but this seems as good an analysis as any I've heard.
posted by vito90 at 8:13 AM on March 17, 2011


bluecevalo: Envious?

Dude, I would have fucking killed for an A-.
posted by En0rm0 at 8:14 AM on March 17, 2011


BEE: Charlie Sheen blows open the myth that men will outgrow the adolescent pursuit of pleasure, the dream of a life without rules or responsibilities...

Hmm. Yeah. As a female, I have no idea what that is like. *rolls eyes*
Does this guy actually know any women?
posted by apis mellifera at 8:17 AM on March 17, 2011


Sheen isn't post anything

I suspect he is a post-actor. Much like his female counterpart, the divine Ms. Lohan.
posted by bonehead at 8:19 AM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I really want to believe in Ellis' analysis of the situation, and damn it's easy to get caught up in his enthusiasm while reading it. I mean, everyone loves to see bullshit get called out, especially publicly (hello Michael Moore at the Oscars). No doubt Sheen has witnessed a lot of bullshit. It has been especially entertaining watching Sheen's story play out on Headline News, which I am forced to look at when I'm at the gym (god it's weird that the only thing on that channel is Japan horribleness all the time interspersed every 20 minutes with the update on the Charlie Sheen situation). It's true that old media doesn't know what to do with this situation *precisely* because old media is so superficial and fake.

If only Sheen would give us a wink that he's created this persona consciously it would be easier to swallow. I think it takes a special kind of pathology to not recognize that Sheen is mentally ill, and violently unpleasant to be around. I've sat alone in countless exam rooms interviewing people in this exact state and it is frightening, and sad, and it rarely ends well. It's fascinating to watch the cultural spectacle, but I just can't comprehend the people cheering him on.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:23 AM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Seriously, Bret Easton Ellis and Perez Hilton; has anyone ever seen them in the same room?
posted by taz at 8:34 AM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


His whole article is based on the idea that deep down inside, all men want a mountain of blow and a stable of whores. His entire argument is predicated on a fallacious supposition. Rhetorically there's no need to address any of his claims because they're grounded on faulty assumptions. But I would like to punch him in the face anyway, just for the hedonistic thrill of it. Point to Ellis.
posted by Owowthathurts at 8:38 AM on March 17, 2011 [6 favorites]



Charlie should mix it up and go Pre-Raphaelite on us.


Honestly, I think he's doing a fine enough job of drowning without the flowing locks and diaphanous gowns.
posted by thivaia at 8:42 AM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


For a second, I thought it was "post-Empire Records," and it all made sense.
posted by cnelson at 8:43 AM on March 17, 2011


pised: "define your effing terms!"

What do you think he is, a Science Fiction writer?
posted by idiopath at 8:50 AM on March 17, 2011


"If I had to perform these scenes or deliver these one-liners week after week after week, I’d probably want to lose myself in drugs and alcohol and hookers as well. (Actually, I want to lose myself in drugs and alcohol and hookers anyway. What man doesn’t?)

Umm... Me?!

Sure, I would be glad to have enjoyable on-demand sex and good highs all the time, but drugs and alcohol and hookers don't deliver that very effectively. There's always the crash afterwards, and, well... that crash is longer in your early 40s.

Sadly, I must content myself with the constant, loving companionship of my wife... and, of course, the friendship and mutual satisfaction of my dear teenaged kinkster who visits twice weekly. Moderation in all things still works best, really.

(That said, if anyone *really* knows of any drugs that are clearly a net positive, and that don't damage your body, be sure to let us all know, 'k?!)
posted by markkraft at 9:16 AM on March 17, 2011


It's true that old media doesn't know what to do with this situation *precisely* because old media is so superficial and fake.

"Old" media knows exactly what to do with this situation: run with the story as long as possible and sell ads around it in the meantime. Don Henley "got it" twenty-some years ago and it was a cliche then.

Can I say here how much I loathe Bret Easton Ellis? Jay McInerney at his worst is four times the writer Ellis ever was. Tama Janowitz is better. Lauren Weisberger is better. JT LeRoy is better than Ellis and he was a gag! In fact, it's possible that the Bangles' version of "Hazy Shade of Winter" is the closest Ellis has ever come to something that doesn't suck.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:28 AM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I had never read Ellis because his stuff always looked stupid and immature. Lately I had been wondering if I was wrong about him since so many seem to like his work. Now that I’ve read that article I see I was right all along, except I need to add shallow and pointless to that list. Is he still 15 years old?

I certainly don’t get it. After I got a couple of emails I realized I had seen that first Sheen interview and changed the channel in the middle of it because I didn’t care. It just didn’t strike me as anything. I later thought some of it was mildly amusing in 3 second bursts, but I still don’t care.

I realize Ellis is trying to be at the forefront of something, but being at the front of nothing isn’t going to work. That article sounds mostly like an addict propping up addicts. I’ve been there and am not that impressed. If he had a point (and I think there was a very small one in there somewhere) he needs to not bury it under a mountain of bullshit if he expects anyone to get it.
posted by bongo_x at 9:35 AM on March 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


I hate to sound "empire", but glamourization of drugs and justification of drug addicts still won't help aforementioned drug addicts get a paying job.

What's the point of being a post-empire actor, if that means that you're an out-of-work actor with a drug addiction?!

Really... how soon before we hear he goes into rehab, has a book ghostwritten for him, and goes on Oprah?
posted by markkraft at 9:41 AM on March 17, 2011


Don Henley "got it" twenty-some years ago and it was a cliche then.

Is there a single song on that album which doesn't still resonate today, perhaps even a bit more now in some cases? Truly one of those legendary moments when all the stars lined up just right and the Universe spoke a bit of truth through an artist.

posted by hippybear at 9:46 AM on March 17, 2011


So, if I don't really care for the way the celebrity fame machine is headed, but haven't overly suffered from the notion that celebrity equated legitimacy, and yet I still pay for satellite TV, do I qualify as Protectorate?
posted by Graygorey at 10:29 AM on March 17, 2011


Celebrity has always been like a meteor -- the pieces on the outside fall off and burn up or evaporate. The pieces on the inside know that the closer to the center they are, the safer they are, the more likely they'll stay frozen. You can call the meteor Empire if you want. That's fine. Yes, the pieces that fall off are always the most interesting. Just like a meteor, they're the parts that are making heat and light. But Charlie Sheen and all of the other "post-Empire" people Ellis names will either learn to dig in and cling tightly to the rock or they too will be abraded and destroyed in the friction of the atmosphere.
posted by penduluum at 11:29 AM on March 17, 2011


In fact, it's possible that the Bangles' version of "Hazy Shade of Winter" is the closest Ellis has ever come to something that doesn't suck.

I've always been fond of this song (it plays over the end credits of Less Than Zero), even though it's really just a thinly-veiled rewrite of "In Dreams", because it still blows me away that Orbison sang something written by Glenn Danzig.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:46 AM on March 17, 2011


Cruise is still that alter boy from Syracuse...

Altar boy?

Altered boy?

Alternate boy?
posted by mmrtnt at 11:50 AM on March 17, 2011


My dear, responsible, job-having, Officially Grownup boyfriend is loving the hell out of this Charlie Sheen business because -- and I'm directly quoting here, Sheen isn't "giving in to the Oprah-military complex" which is his new term for the whole sorry set of events that happens every time something like this goes down...all the going on The View and apologizing for shit that you actually don't feel like apologizing for, but get pressured into doing, etc. Do you REALLY think Alec Baldwin wanted to do a mea culpa when he pulled that little vmail stunt with his daughter a few years ago? Shit, I'm in my mid-30s and even I know some of the things I've pulled over the years would have provoked that reaction and worse out of my dad, and rightfully so.

Sheen may be a complete psychopath. He might be mentally ill, he might having a weird reaction to coming down from a Colon Blow-commercial-sized mountain of cocaine. But in some way, he's speaking to a certain demographic who have been quietly harboring fantasy lives about not only having a huge amount of money at their disposal, but also being able to tell anyone who gets in their way to fuck right off.

"Take This Job and Shove It," the older cultural touchstone here, isn't exactly as viable given today's economy. Living vicariously through Sheen? Doable. You take what you can get, I guess. For me, it's no different than hoping to win the lottery (even though it seems anyone who does just inherits a whole new set of problems that aren't solvable by money).
posted by bitter-girl.com at 12:02 PM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Don Henley "got it" twenty-some years ago and it was a cliche then.

Then went on to record "In a New York Minute" one of the most mawkish, sentimental, and flat out ridiculous songs ever. It's like the affectation of an angry young man wore off and he didn't know what to do with that, so he struck out randomly.

Now what middle-aged writer can we apply that paradigm to? Hmmm.....
posted by lumpenprole at 12:16 PM on March 17, 2011


Using three name parts in a byline is rather "empire".
posted by Matt Oneiros at 12:41 PM on March 17, 2011


The bit where he talked about how Sheen "allegedly abuses women (who keep coming back again and again and again for more abuse)" was probably the best, considering.

I can just imagine those Empire goons. "Oh waaah-waaah feminism and basic respect for human integrity!" So Empire, those goons!
posted by col_pogo at 12:41 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mawkish and sentimental? Really? It's a song about not having anything to anchor one in life anymore due to a lifetime of choices and living with the knowledge that it was probably your fault for being in the position you're in and wanting to believe and hoping against hope that life can indeed change for someone that late in life.

I guess it fits the textbook definition of sentimental, but it's hardly a celebration of that state.
posted by hippybear at 12:44 PM on March 17, 2011


The excess of fat on your American bones
Will cushion the impact as you sink like a stone.


The Chocolate Cake is a Lie.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:06 PM on March 17, 2011


His whole article is based on the idea that deep down inside, all men want a mountain of blow and a stable of whores.

Well, to be honest, I probably wouldn't say no to a trial run.
posted by tumid dahlia at 2:21 PM on March 17, 2011


I will shout until I learn how to speak
OR
Why shut up?
OR
Charlie brought some much needed poetry to public life
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 2:39 PM on March 17, 2011


But I don't get the post-Empire stuff. Rock stars were doing this for ages.
Tho maybe MeFi loving Gaga is post- Empire?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 2:56 PM on March 17, 2011


"Hazy Shade of Winter" was written by Paul Simon.

Which is even more of a mind-fuck.
posted by bardic at 4:26 PM on March 17, 2011


"Take This Job and Shove It," the older cultural touchstone here, isn't exactly as viable given today's economy. Living vicariously through Sheen? Doable. You take what you can get, I guess.

Hard to equate the soft Sheen gig on CBS with the kind of grueling humiliating blue collar job that inspired the song.

Moreover, if that show goes under, so do a lot of paychecks that have been a lot smaller than Sheen's - thanks a lot, Chuck. .

You want a hero for Joe Paycheck, find someone who's rolling the dice on a business start up, not some pathetic drug addled basket case.
posted by IndigoJones at 4:30 PM on March 17, 2011


"Hazy Shade of Winter" was written by Paul Simon.

Which is even more of a mind-fuck.


The entire Bookends album is sort of not at all what you expect from Simon And Garfunkel. It's the closest thing they ever did to a concept album. It's my personal favorite out of their very short catalog. (Although the quad mix of Bridge Over Troubled Water is pretty splendid, I've recently discovered).

posted by hippybear at 4:47 PM on March 17, 2011


Overrated has-been writer analyses overrated has-been TV Star. Gets mocked by overrated has-been internet commenter. (Ha! Beat ya to it!)
posted by jonmc at 4:56 PM on March 17, 2011


Irony and disrespect are fashionable, people with no discernible talent beyond self-promotion have the most social cachet, and in the current media moment we have to analyze a movie star 30 years passed prime, currently famous for being on a sub-literate sitcom which is not viewed by anyone who is currently involved in the actual shaping of our culture, for having a meltdown/drug binge which is reminiscent of so many celebrity implosions which have come before.
And this is told to us by a once enfant terrible writer 30 years passed prime, who is famous for shocking academics, classicists, and prudes with emotionless descriptions of sex, drugs, and violence; none of which have really stood the test of time other than encapsulated stillicides of fashionable posings and preenings of a dead era.
Fuck you Bret Easton Ellis.
You will suck Martin Amis' dick in hell.
posted by Enigmark at 5:03 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


If Aaron Sorkin, Martin Scorsese and David Fincher are all Empire, and Bret Easton Ellis is not, sign me right the fuck up for Empire, please.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:56 PM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


So, wait, if I enjoyed Glamorama as a fun comedy romp, does this make me a bad person? Do I have to ebay my copy or something?
posted by tumid dahlia at 5:58 PM on March 17, 2011


Alec Post-Empire is the founding member of Jaguar Pre-Adulthood Uprising.
posted by ifandonlyif at 6:48 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


The entire Bookends album is sort of not at all what you expect from Simon And Garfunkel.

I love the brass-horn-sounding-thing in S&G's version of "Hazy," but the vocals leave me cold. Somehow, Hoffs & Co. make their version sound both much more exciting and much more melancholy and I think that has something to do with the pitch of their voices. Or maybe I'm just more partial to female vocalists. It could be.

Is there a single song on that album which doesn't still resonate today

There's filler on the album, but yeah, a lot of the songs do still resonate. "Dirty Laundry," though, wow. Someone should remix that song. I'd love to hear a Trentemoller/Spoek Mathambo-style cover. What's odd (or ironic or insightful or lucky) is that the song is such a perfect description of the 21st century media enviroment, yet Henley (and Kortchmar) wrote that song only two years after 24/7 news was invented.

(I'm happy to turn this thread into a discussion of Don Henley, the Bangles, and Simon & Garfunkel, instead of, you know, those other guys.)
posted by octobersurprise at 7:58 PM on March 17, 2011


I love the brass-horn-sounding-thing in S&G's version of "Hazy," but the vocals leave me cold.

In the context of the album, it's pitch perfect. But I can see where the Bangles cover may work better as a standalone track.
posted by hippybear at 8:23 PM on March 17, 2011


Any way we can have a moratorium on calling the authors of articles you don't particularly like "assholes," or rhetorically telling them "fuck you"? It doesn't exactly improve discourse around here, and it seems to be a growing trend.
posted by decoherence at 11:22 AM on March 18, 2011




BEE's listing of who "gets it" and who doesn't reminds me of Stephen King's article where he talked about what's cool and what's not.

They both choose try to categorize the entirety of pop culture with their completely subjective distinctions and end up just looking out of touch and clueless.
posted by Ortho at 10:20 PM on March 23, 2011


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