Teachable Moments At The Emmys: Charlie Sheen Says He’s Sorry

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Apparently, awards shows don’t just celebrate the best and brightest of the entertainment industry, they also present fallen celebrities with the opportunity for redemption. Just last month, Chris Brown returned to the MTV Video Music Awards after a couple of years of exile. He literally flew through the sky in a triumphant return to stardom, begging everyone to forget the pictures of his abused girlfriend, Rihanna. To some extent, it seemed to work. Plenty of bloggers asked, “When did we forgive him?” but the Twitterverse and online commenters seemed to think that he had done his penance and we all should just welcome him in as a star again.

The Emmy’s presented another fallen star, the butt of everyone’s summer joke, with an opportunity to apologize and get back into everyone’s good graces. Of course, I’m talking about Charlie Sheen. The troubled actor took the stage to present Outstanding Actor in a Comedy, his old category, which he reminded everyone. Then, proving that he can still put on a show, Sheen delivered a halting, seemingly heart-felt pseudo-apology to his previous co-workers at Two And A Half Men. “From the bottom of my heart, I wish nothing but the best for this upcoming season. We spent eight wonderful years together, and I know you will continue to make great television.” Now don’t get me wrong, some PR exec earned his money with those few short sentences. It sure sounded pretty.

But just months ago, Charlie Sheen was on a downward spiral, getting increasingly out of control and incoherent.  In the end, it wasn’t even a train-wreck to watch. Sheen seemed to be in serious need of mental help. He was spouting vitriol at anyone who dared to question his sanity, which everyone had to be doing. The whole situation was simply pitiful. We often forgot during the Violent Torpedo of Truth that Sheen wasn’t just dragging his own name through the mud, he has children and ex-wives. He has kids to be responsible for, yet he was on-stage promoting his porn-star “Goddesses” and his tiger-blood winning. So after all that, does a couple of daytime talk-show interviews and a quick, polished speech on an awards show make it all better?

For kids watching the Emmys, I hope they had an adult around to point out that apologies are wonderful, but they don’t negate the consequences of our actions. If I behave irresponsibly and then feel bad about it, it’s not as if nothing happened. Of course we all make mistakes. But those mistakes all have fall-outs. One would expect the fallout from a breakdown and a couple of arrests to be more severe than publicly wishing the best to Ashton Kutcher.

Charlie Sheen’s words sounded right, but he hasn’t proven that he actually feels them. He hasn’t done anything to show that he realizes the error of his ways or plans to behave better in the future. Maybe we should wait until he actually gets back to work before we start applauding him at awards shows.