There's a new celebrity crackhead on the scene, and some folks can barely contain their glee. It's as if all of black Twitter and Facebook strained its collective neck to watch this 50-car pileup that is Charlie Sheen explode all over the mass media.
"What if @charliesheen has done so much drugs, he's come out on the other side — like he sees things how it really is … " tweeted the comedian Elon James White, creator of Blacking It Up, during the broadcast of Sheen's interview on 20/20. "I understand we're watching a mental illness disaster … but hell if @charliesheen isn't giving me brand new life affirmations … "
Other black stars, such as Floyd Mayweather, actress Tichina Arnold and much of hip-hop, sent Sheen supportive tweets in the wake of his bizarre, narcissistic stream-of-consciousness broadcasts on television. Among Sheen's greatest hits:
"I am on a drug. It's called Charlie Sheen. It's not available. If you try it once, you will die. Your face will melt off and your children will weep over your exploded body.
"I was bangin' seven-gram rocks and finishing them because that's how I roll, because I have one speed, one gear … I got tiger blood, man. Dying's for fools, dying's for amateurs.
"Every day is just filled with just wins. All we do is put wins in the record books. We win so radically in our underwear before our first cup of coffee, it's scary."
No one knows how unfunny addiction is more than black people. It's a tragic disease that devastates families and whole communities. We know crackheads. They are our neighbors. They are in our families. We are the ones who invented laughing to stop from crying over it. That's why even the cracked-out panhandler I just passed in traffic was shaking his head, no doubt finding some comfort and solace that someone is more self-destructive than he is.
There is plenty of evidence that white people do more drugs than we do. They just don't go to jail as often. And they also don't typically deliver the same profit margins when mass media converts their addictions into paychecks.
Consider the long list of fallen black cracked-out icons pimped for ratings. Bobby "Preparation H" Brown, Whitney "Crack Is Wack" Houston, Flava Flav, even Marion Barry. I have a friend who last Halloween dressed up as Rick "Cocaine Is a Helluva Drug" James, re-creating his iconic "F—- yo' couch" scene immortalized by Dave Chappelle.
And now, inducted into this elite club straddling the blurry line between cult hero and train wreck is Charlie Sheen. There is a perverse thrill in watching a pale, $2 million-per-episode TV actor (until CBS halted production on Two and a Half Men, that is) win the deadbeat sweepstakes so definitively. And the defiant, swaggering way he's going down — all Tony Montana "Say hello to my leetle friend" — is pure hip-hop.
Sheen refuses to allow others to have all the fun at his expense, so he parodied his own damn self on his Twitter feed ("Born Small … Now Huge … Winning … Bring it … ! (unemployed winner … )" reads his profile). Bravo, Charlie! That's the kind of trickster move I'd expect from Kanye West.
My friend Richard O'Connor caught up with the Sheen meltdown after a long, hard day spent educating the youth. "From a man in his early 40s, today really was pretty bad," He wrote on his Facebook status update.
"The only thing that made it bearable … Charlie Sheen!!! The voice of my generation."
Natalie Hopkinson is a contributing editor to The Root. Follow her on Twitter.
Natalie Hopkinson is a Washington, D.C.-based author whose current projects deal with the arts, gender and public life. She is the author of Go-Go Live: The Musical Life and Death of a Chocolate City. Follow her on Twitter.