Yesterday morning, Charlie Sheen went on The Today Show and revealed to the world that he is HIV positive. During the in-depth interview, Matt Lauer confronted Charlie Sheen about extremely personal matters in his private life. Not only was his HIV status disclosed, but Sheen also answered questions about his diagnosis, his bank account, his revolving door of past prostitute companions, and how he revealed his status to his former wife Denise Richards and his family. Even his doctor got in on the action (with Sheen’s approval), divulging his health info while Lauer chimed in about whether or not Sheen could be trusted actually to take his medication. It was uncomfortable, invasive and easily one of the most exploitative interviews I’ve seen in years. But at the end of the day, Charlie Sheen approved every single question that came from Lauer’s mouth.
None of his admissions are shocking. But what did shock me was reading the angle that some publications were taking on the matter: They were actually calling Charlie Sheen brave for his admission, and many were sympathetic toward him and his story. I don’t think there was anything brave about what Sheen did. It was all self-serving, like most of Sheen’s controversies.
Sheen is no stranger to controversy or exploiting the public for attention. He has been in and out of trouble for decades; the long-reigning Hollywood king of second, third, fourth, and fifth chances. From accidentally shooting his fiancée in the arm to serious substance abuse and alcohol issues and dating porn stars and prostitutes, Sheen has been upfront about every single one of his digressions and the public has welcomed him time and again, an opportunity very few people, let alone celebrities, get.
After publicly dissing his boss and co-workers in 2011, he was fired from his million-dollar-an-episode gig on Two and a Half Men and went rogue. He had a meltdown where he publicly showed off multiple girlfriends that he called “goddesses,” said he had “Adonis DNA” and was “winning.” He even went on a tour, ‘My Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat is Not An Option’ where he was able to share his rants. The tour sold out in minutes.
And a year later, he found himself with another high-profile job, bad behavior be damned. He starred in Anger Management on FX, which ran for 100 episodes. Charlie Sheen really was winning.
Or at least it seemed like it. Around that time, he was diagnosed with HIV and quickly discovered that the company he kept was toxic, which led him to tell all his business to Matt Lauer.
Four years later, he is insisting that he is under attack and he just wants to share his truth. It’s a great plea. However, Charlie Sheen has not proven himself to be anything but a victim of White privilege. His PR team has been top notch and they undoubtedly held the puppet strings in Sheen’s big interview, especially when Sheen used his children, whom he claimed blackmailers were really taking his millions from, as a reason for the public to pity him:
“What people forget is that that’s money they’re taking from my children. I trusted them and they were deep in my inner circle, and I thought they could be helpful. My trust turned to their treason.”
Pretty low to use his kids to gain the public’s pity. Especially when ex-wife Denise Richards, whom he has publicly disrespected many times, had full custody of the four young children he has (including their two daughters and his sons from another relationship) while he lived recklessly. Last year, ex-wife Brooke Mueller was granted full custody of her twin boys with Sheen.
The truth of the matter is that Charlie Sheen is a reckless man who is suffering from more than just a slew of health conditions. He is using this as a moment for yet another chance. He didn’t come out to help others who share his diagnosis, but rather, he came out to save face and money.
I do want Sheen to receive all the help that he needs in the coming years to keep his condition under control. May he continue to have success in fighting his HIV. But I just think it’s best to be honest: Charlie Sheen is many things, brave is not one of them.