Charlie Sheen’s Mad As Hell and He’s Not Going To Take It Anymore

Charlie Sheen’s Mad As Hell and He’s Not Going To Take It Anymore (photo)

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Charlie Sheen’s been quoting “Apocalypse Now” a lot during his ongoing public meltdown — “‘You have the right to kill me, but you do not have the right to judge me.’ Boom. That’s the whole movie. That’s life.” — but the film he should be watching to understand his own life is “Network,” which predicted just about everything in our modern telvision landscape, including Sheen’s recent rise from sitcom has-been to media circus ringleader.

If it’s been a while since you’ve seen director Sidney Lumet and writer Paddy Chayefsky’s “Network” — or if you haven’t seen it at all — it tells the story of Beale (Peter Finch), an aging network anchor who reacts to the news of his impending firing by using one his last shows to announce his intention to kill himself on live television. His bosses’ first reaction is to suspend him, but they reverse themselves when they realize that Beale’s public meltdown draws big ratings. Though Beale is undeniably insane, he’s also undeniably good TV, so the executives at UBS keep him on the air.

On Saturday, over 100,000 people tuned in to UStream to watch Charlie Sheen become Howard Beale. They could have watched him every week on CBS’ “Two and a Half Men” until his erratic behavior and insulting comments about his bosses got him fired. But all those Ustreamers were much more interested in Sheen’s post-dismissal behavior: Beale-ian rants about violence and persecution and rage. Sheen played the part so thoroughly he even provided his own Beale-ian catchphrases. Beale famously encouraged his viewers to go to their window and yell “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!” On Saturday, Sheen wanted people to do the same with his catchphrase: “Duh, winning!”

That parallels between Beale and Sheen’s freakouts are eerie. After Beale is suspended from his gig on UBS, he becomes front page, top story news for every other media outlet in the country. And in the days after CBS finally fired Sheen from “Two and a Half Men” he appeared as a massive ratings draw for NBC’s “The Today Show,” “ABC’s “20/20,” CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight,” and “The Today Show” again. The only difference with “Network” is that CBS didn’t look at the ratings their competitors were milking from Sheen’s meltdown and grab for a piece of it themselves. Maybe they would have, if only Sheen, bitter over his firing, had let them.

The content of their screeds are similar too:

“I probably took more [drugs] than anybody could survive… I was bangin’ seven-gram rocks and finishing them because that’s how I roll, because I have one speed, one gear. Go. I’m different. I have a different constitution. I have a different brain. I have a different heart. I got tiger blood, man. Dying’s for fools, dying’s for amateurs.” — Charlie Sheen

“This is not a psychotic episode. This is a cleansing moment of clarity. I am imbued, Max. I am imbued with some special spirit. It’s not a religious feeling at all. It is a shocking eruption of great electrical energy. I feel vivid and flashing as if suddenly I had been plugged into some great electro-magnetic field. I feel connected to all living things, to flowers, birds, to all the animals of the world and even to some great unseen living force, what I think the Hindus call prana.” — Howard Beale

You could argue that Charlie Sheen hasn’t been a mentally well man for a while; you’d certainly having a tougher time arguing that he was in complete control of his faculties while he was trashing his room at the Plaza Hotel in an alleged coke rage. In one interview, Sheen joked that the only drug he was on was “Charlie Sheen.” But really the only thing he was worried about going cold turkey on was fame. Like Beale — another aging, single, substance abuser — it was the impending loss of the television spotlight that finally pushed Sheen over the edge. In an environment of media consolidation and political upheaval eerily similar to the one in “Network” — in one scene, Faye Dunaway marvels at the way Beale’s breakdown is more widely covered than skyrocketing oil prices and a civil war in Beirut — Sheen, a faded TV star speaking his unbalanced mind, has become the biggest story in the country.

Sheen’s rants don’t have Beale’s political dimensions — at least so far. So I don’t think we’ll see Sheen reenacting the apocalyptic end of “Network” (then again, the title of his proposed autobiography is “Apocalypse Me,” so who knows). Regardless, the people tuning in to watch Sheen putz around his home office on UStream are doing it for the same reason they fictional throngs flocked to Beale: because people in the worst emotional states make the best television.

One of my favorite scenes in “Network” is Beale’s announcement of his intention to commit suicide, seen from inside the control room at UBS. As he says he’s going to blow his brains out, a producer responds with “10 seconds to commercial.” The UBS staff is so dead inside from their years working in the TV industry that they don’t even notice his threat. Beale warned that watching television turns people into “humanoids.” Maybe. Or maybe television’s appeal is that it permits us to think the people on it are humanoids, which allows us to view its programming free of our sense of empathy. We watch reality television — the socially acceptable version of lunatics like Beale or Sheen — cheering for people’s failure, laughing when their hearts break, without ever considering the emotional impact these decisions must have on their real lives. They give us 45 minutes of entertainment for a potential lifetime of misery and shame.

Beale’s bosses fancy him a “modern day prophet renouncing the hypocrisies of our times.” Maybe the saddest part about the Charlie Sheen drama is that our real life Howard Beale doesn’t even renounce our hypocrisy. He only reinforces it.


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.


Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.