In his 2011 essay for Rolling Stone on actor Charlie Sheen, Rob Sheffield takes a somewhat scornful approach to Charlie and his issues. This was at the height of the ongoing saga of Charlie losing his job on Two and a Half Men and responding by producing his famous rants about tiger blood and Vatican warlocks.
It’s obvious that Sheffield has no respect for Charlie Sheen. In the opening paragraph of his piece, he refers to Sheen as having “a 100 percent failure rate as a human being.” The author then tries to place Charlie Sheen in context, using allusions from classical literature such as Moby-Dick when comparing Ahab and Charlie’s egos. That’s ironic, because Sheffield’s main argument is that Sheen is a megalomaniac, yet it’s not Sheen who’s comparing himself to one of the towering tragic figures in American literature.
Sheffield goes from nasty to nastier when referring to Sheen as “waltzing into the lead role of a hit sitcom without paying any dues” and “washed up in the movies, he became even more famous playing a cartoon version of his already-cartoon image.” There’s no doubt that Sheffield wants the reader to understand that Charlie Sheen never deserved to have a career, never deserved to have not one but two hit sitcoms. Sheffield continues to attack Charlie Sheen, moving from his career to his personal life, referring to him as a “Hollywood’s go-to man-skank punchline” and a “45-year-old drug zombie.”
By the end of the essay, Sheffield is paying mock-tribute to Charlie’s ego and quoting from Camus to again add a touch of literary weight to what is basically a rant by Sheffield about Charlie Sheen’s rants. Despite his professed scorn, Sheffield’s essay has a faint flavor of envy in it. He says in the essay that he doesn’t want to be Charlie Sheen—in fact, he says it more than once with colorful details piled on top of details as to why Charlie’s life sucks so badly. To rip off Shakespeare as Sheffield ripped off Camus, “Methinks he doth protest too much.”