Charlie Sheen, Mel Gibson-What Are the Rules?

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
Feb. 25 2011 4:00 PM

Charlie Sheen, Mel Gibson-What Are the Rules?

Jess , I agree that meltdowns of public figures are fascinating, as is trying to figure out what line has been crossed when a career takes a possibly fatal hit. You have a convincing theory on why Charlie Sheen was able to skate on domestic abuse charges, but may have done himself in by referring to his television show’s producer, Chuck Lorre, as "Chaim Levine." (Lorre was born Charles Michael Levine. Sheen was born Carlos Irwin Estevez.)  Sheen’s entire interview sounded like the insane ranting of someone who had just snorted a super-sized line of coke. But it’s the vaguely anti-Semitic references to his boss that seem to be what’s shut down production of his show, Two and a Half Men . (A mystery to me is the appeal of the show.  I’ve only seen it on airplanes and 10 minutes is all I’ve ever been able to take.)

But then how do we explain the similar downward trajectory of Mel Gibson’s career? When he was arrested for drunk driving in 2006 he went into a full anti-Semitic tirade, blaming all wars on Jews and inquiring of his arresting officer if he was a Jew. (Miraculously, he was!) Gibson was wounded, but continued to work. It’s the most recent revelations of his domestic abuse, the release of the recording of his panting tirade against his ex-girlfriend, and an apparent physical assault that appear to have torpedoed him.  This is so unfairly confusing for celebrities and their handlers! How are stars supposed to keep straight-especially when they’re zonked out of their minds-when it’s OK to slap and when it’s OK to rant?

Emily Yoffe is a regular Slate contributor. She writes the Dear Prudence column. 

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