Monday, March 7, 2011

Bear-baiting, 21st Century style . . .

Wikipedia begins its article on bear-baiting this way:

Bear-baiting in the 17th Century
 (image from Wikipedia)
"Bear-baiting is a blood sport involving the worrying or tormenting (baiting) of bears. ...Bear-baiting was popular in England until the nineteenth century. From the sixteenth century, many herds of bears were maintained for baiting. In its best-known form, arenas for this purpose were called bear-gardens, consisting of a circular high fenced area, the 'pit', and raised seating for spectators."
How demeaning and degrading for all concerned! We civilized, 21st Century citizens would never, ever find such an activity entertaining. I mean, just look at how we rained fury down on Michael Vick for his treatment of dogs.

I've occasionally blogged about my own long-term addiction recovery. As someone speaking from the trenches, I'd like to suggest that it's perfectly appropriate to substitute the term "celebrity-baiting" for "bear-baiting," and so give a name to one of our society's favorite blood sports.

And please, make no mistake, celebrity-baiting is a blood sport. Addicts, no matter how rich or famous or talented, die cruelly and squalidly from their addictions. Whenever we find ourselves entertained by the symptoms of their addictions, we are participating in a blood sport.

I'm reacting to the obsessive coverage of Charlie Sheen, admitted alcoholic and addict, whose symptomatic sad and bad behavior has kept the American public "entertained" for weeks.

Charlie Sheen on ABC's 20-20
Mr. Sheen has been everywhere -- on the tube, on the radio, whizzing around the social media sphere; goaded by whomever's got a camera or a mic on him into spitting out whatever  irrational, manic, outrageous thought is boomeranging around his head at the moment.

On a blog called "Guinivere Gets Sober" I found the following excerpt from Mr. Sheen's 20/20 interview with ABC's Andrea Canning. The subject was the actor's drug usage.
Q: When was the last time you used? 
A: I don’t know. .  .. 
Q: What are we talking about? How much? 
A: I dunno, man, I was banging 7-gram rocks and finishing them, because that’s how I roll. I have one speed, I have one gear: GO. 
Q: How DO you survive that? 
A: Because I’m me. I’m different. I have a different brain, a different constitution, I have a different heart, I have a different—you know, I got Tiger Blood, man.
That Friday night segment of 20/20 brought the show its best ratings for more than two years. (Since 2/13/09 for Diane Sawyer’s Peabody-winning special on the children of Appalachia). I watched it this morning on my computer, and saw a terribly sick person at bay, baited by a reporter in the cause of ratings.  

Yesterday's  seemingly obligatory Charlie Sheen article in the New York Times began this way:

Sheen Is Surrounded by a Coterie of Enablers 
LOS ANGELES — Since getting sober more than two decades ago, Tom Arnold, the actor and comedian, has been a quiet force in Hollywood’s recovery community, helping stage a number of interventions for drug-addicted executives and alcoholic stars. 
But even a seen-it-all show business survivor like Mr. Arnold was stunned by what happened when he tried to pull his friend and former neighbor, Charlie Sheen, back from the brink. 
“I went to a person close to him and said, ‘This guy is in serious trouble with serious drugs. We’ve got to help him,’ ” Mr. Arnold recalled in an interview. “And this person flat-out told me to my face, ‘We make a lot of money from him. I can’t be part of it.’ That tells you everything you need to know."
Bear-baiting, in the form of celebrity-baiting, is alive and well in the 21st Century.

Your thoughts?

1 comment:

  1. 2 decades into my recovery myself, my thoughts are " there but for the grace of God".

    They have to stop, someone has to get him into rehab.