Charlie Sheen Plays the Part Too Well; Debauched Behavior Is Destructive Role Model for Men and Boys

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Warner Bros.' announcement that Charlie Sheen has been terminated from his role on CBS' Two and a Half Men comes on the heels of a media frenzy over his public meltdown, personal trials and professional impasse. Unfortunately, there is a bit of sad irony in the similarities between his reported behavior in real life and the lifestyle caricatured on the hit television show.

In comments to the Hollywood Reporter, Two and a Half Men creator Chuck Lorre said his original concept for the series was to show how a child might be a positive influence on the life of a degenerate. On the show, Mr. Sheen plays a pleasure-seeking jingle writer whose life is altered when his brother and young son move in with him in his Malibu beach house. Far from showing emotional growth or maturity after assuming shared responsibility for his brother's son, the series has instead presented Mr. Sheen's character as a model to American males, young and old, of idyllic masculine behavior.

Each week, viewers watch Mr. Sheen's character engage in unsavory behavior, turning his brother and young nephew into apprentices in debauched living. Even worse, Mr. Sheen's character normalizes his boorish, egocentric, immature and womanizing behavior by presenting his behavior as cool - something to be idealized by every man who wants to be like him and every woman who wants to be with him. By making him the cool character on the show, his behavior is made to seem not only acceptable, but also the gilt-edged guarantee of success in life.

The archetype of masculinity presented in the show becomes subconsciously engrained in the hearts and minds of the men and women, boys and girls who watch the show, and it indirectly makes its way into our culture, affecting the rest of us in other, more insidious ways. Shows like Two and a Half Men tell impressionable teenage boys and unenlightened adult men that sex with prostitutes or porn stars is every man's birthright and is to be preferred over committed relationships; that you can use women and discard them as long as you are charming while you do it, and that getting intoxicated on a regular basis will not adversely affect either your personal or professional life.

The misogynistic messages in the series have also imprinted young girls with damaging female stereotypes, in which crazies (Rose, Charlie's stalker-ex who lives downstairs), shrews (Alan's ex-wife, Judith, the mother) and sluts (any of Charlie's or Alan's endless parade of one-night stands) are presented as the only images of women. …