How come people loathe Chris Brown and Mel Gibson, but still love Charlie Sheen—who has constantly been beating up his wives and girlfriends?
—Ash, via the inbox
As for "loving" Charlie Sheen, I have some news for you:
You're wrong about that.
And some members of the so-called Sheen Cadre—for that is what Sheen calls his possibly imaginary army of adorers—have actually booked time in their calendars for Sheen's live shows, coming to Detroit and Chicago so far.
Both are sold out, in fact.
But do not confuse such interest with adoration.
Exhibit A: A sharp 23-year-old woman named Caitlin Madden. Madden recently moved to Los Angeles from Colorado. Madden has applied for a position as Sheen's "winning" intern, a gig that has been much sought after and publicized since the actor announced it March 7.
So why does Madden want this job? Does she venerate Sheen and want to be his next goddess? Not exactly.
"I wouldn't say that I love him," Madden explains, "but I do love how honest he is about the things that he does."
Such as threatening and shooting and making thinly veiled anti-Semitic remarks? That kind of honesty?
"I wouldn't be dating him," Madden points out wisely. "I think that the relationship would be so much more different than that dynamic. I wouldn't be married to him, I just want to do social media for him, which is what the internship is."
As for why exactly she went for it:
"I applied to the internship on a whim. I thought it would be sort of funny. I think I would really regret not following through with it."
(And, yes, as of this moment, Madden is still in the running toward that internship.)
Exhibit B: Leo Braudy, who has written a book all about how fame really works.
"I'm reminded of the people who went to see Judy Garland when she was on the edge," Braudy explains. "I've had the same feeling about the people who went to see Janis Joplin. People want to see how long the star can keep the balls of their own sanity in the air."
But then again, when Mel Gibson acted out, many fans stopped giving him their money. Consumers are still, in one form or another, giving Sheen their money. So what's the difference?
"People are responding as if Sheen is the kinder, gentler character he played on Two and a Half Men, as opposed to the more dangerous person he really is," Braudy suggests.
The theory makes sense.
But again, none of this equates love or even acceptance. Beyond the goddess-stocked Sober Valley Lodge, America really doesn't like Sheen overmuch these days.
In 2010—the year that Sheen copped a plea stemming from a Christmas attack on his then-wife Brooke Mueller—pollsters tell me that dislike of Sheen skyrocketed by 133 percent.