Another reason to get lads’ mags off our shelves…

So I was reading FHM the other day. Not a paid for copy I’d like to add, just one that I thumbed through off the shelf at WH Smith before I fulfilled my duty of turning it, and all the other lads’s mags, around. The sole purpose of my excursion to the dark side was to check out an article I had heard advertised on the radio in the gym; a claim that in amongst the pages of photos of Audrina off The Hills was “everything you need to know about…Chalire Sheen!” I wouldn’t normally pay much attention to the promise of a gossipy read about some burnt out actor’s exploits but my blood began to boil pretty quick when the radio ad referred to Mr Sheen as “Hollywood bad boy.”

I’m sorry…WHAT? The bracket of bad behaviour excusable due to being a resident of Beverly Hills has now apparently expanded to include being a serial abuser of women, violent in every relationship on record, prone to threatening outbursts exaggerated by cocaine addiction, shooting your first wife in the arm, beating your girlfriend unconscious and holding a knife to your 3rd wife’s throat as you tell her how you’re going to kill her. I imagine I’m not the only one who finds this a little disgusting. And so I thought it was worth finding out what the lads’ mag take on celebrity domestic violence might be. Half expecting the article to gloss over the full extent of Sheen’s abusive behaviour, I was shocked to find that in fact it laid bare the story of his violent past and present in much fuller detail than I have read in any other single piece on the topic. I also noticed that the overall question the author asked was ‘how come Hollywood lets this guy off the hook?’, albeit without any attempt to answer that question or any suggestion that the willingness to ignore his conduct while throwing money at him to make the public laugh, was in any way problematic.

But the worst part about FHM’s pathetic rehash of whatever information a couple of careful Google searches spewed out for this lazy journo, was the juxtaposition of descriptions of Sheen’s violent behaviour against the claim that many of the women in his life have been badly behaved themselves. Porn actresses, sex workers, women who use drugs and alcohol…all of which are used in the article to balance Sheen’s behaviour towards them but oddly enough there was no mention of any of them physically attacking people or mentally and emotionally abusing people with repeated threats to kill. A particularly disgusting example comes about 2/3 of the way through when a graphic description of how Sheen beat his partner Brittany Ashland unconscious by smashing her face into a marble floor in 1996, is followed up by a description of her particular crime: she did full frontal nude modelling shots (imagine, the readers of FHM must have been horrified.) Both here and in most news reports, as usual, far far too much has been made of the fact that Brooke Meuller had consumed alcohol on the night Sheen assaulted her in December 09. Police evidenced red marks on her neck and noted that Sheen had his pen knife in his bag, flicked open and locked in that position. But y’know, she was pissed so she was probably driving him up the wall and he had to use all of that force to keep her in her place.

For me, this whole thing is just one more depressing reason to get rid of lads’s mags and their damaging effects on how young men and women relate to each other. In effect, this article on Sheen is an example of  the virgin/whore dichotomy these magazines reinforce. Your average lads’ mag reader doesn’t think for a second that the sex object industry is damaging to his sister or girlfriend or daughter. Why not? Because the women bending over in a g-string in Nuts are not the same species as the women they love and respect. They’re whores. They made their choices and they deserve everything they get. And for Charlie Sheen and FHM this seems to extend to horrendous abuse and violence. Last week the most recent series of ‘Two and a Half Men’ premiered on Comedy Central UK and Ireland and I noticed the Irish News carried an ad with the hapless Sheen looking at us mischievously under the tagline “Charlie’s no angel”. I know that’s the character name they’re referring to but please… how fucking crass Comedy Central. Shame on you. You’re asking us to collectively become the neighbour that turns a blind eye to the bruises we notice on the school run in the mornings, ignores the angry outbursts that spill onto the street, turns up the television because we’re not quite sure if that last noise from the other side of the wall was a punch and it’s too stressful to try and figure it out. Well I won’t. I’ll tell you to go fuck yourselves. ( if you want to join in.)

To finish here’s Mary Elizabeth Williams over at writing brilliantly on the subject:

Sheen’s certainly not the first actor with a historic fondness for controlled substances and ladies of the town. So grudging props that he’s managed to parlay that very public bad-boy reputation into a lucrative on-screen career. Oh, that Charlie! He’s the philandering rake from that sitcom! And hey, the scandalous publicity just sent the ratings through the roof.

Here’s the thing, though: Are you fucking kidding me?

There’s naughty and there’s shoving women around, hitting them,verbally abusing them, and threatening to kill them. Repeatedly. Over years and years and years. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had an on-and-off relationship with sobriety. It doesn’t matter if the women in question are hookers or porn stars or sexy actresses or college students. It doesn’t even matter if they’re drunk. For what it’s worth, you don’t go pulling any of that on men either, though that doesn’t seem to be an issue for Sheen.

So while you can get fired from a hit TV show shortly after making a homophobic remark, and you can lose your beauty pageant crown after posing topless, you can also, apparently, make a career of abusing women and be the highest-paid actor on television.


2 Responses to “Another reason to get lads’ mags off our shelves…”

  1. 1 Lynn Malcolm March 24, 2010 at 10:50 am

    What an informative piece you wrote Kellie – well done – I agree that the Bad Boy image is just too shocking – these weirdos seem to think they’re above reproach just cause they’re movie stars – problem is too many women support these idiots because they also enjoy the ‘perks’ as girlfriends etc. We should refuse to watch anything Charlie Sheen and others like him appear in on television or the big screen – and with less support – their shows will get put off the air. I watched Oprah Winfrey yesterday & was horrified to see that ‘porn’ in U.S.A. is on the rise (seems like worldwide in fact) so the whole problem is massive – and while women think of themselves as sex objects or even that they deserve to suffer any of these crimes of violence etc. what chance is there for the children coming up – the whole education of VALUE needs to be addressed. Another thought – where’s this Sheen family – his father mother etc. don’t they have any credence with him to get him help – or will it come to ‘murder’ before he gets stopped & even then – like in the OJ Simpson case – will his MONEY get him off the hook? Start with the mags but it’ll have to go much further to the BIG SCREEN too ! ! ! Best wishes ladies – go for it

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