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Take the money and run, Charlie. Apocalypse Sheen is picking up speed


This is Twitter-ese for the death throes of Charlie Sheen's valiant, doomed assault on his various nemeses - most notably, Two and a Half Men producer Chuck Lorre, who fired the actor last week.

And while Sheen has mounted a website, featuring a flaming-fisted, tiger-slashed cartoon portrait, to sell T-shirts emblazoned with his already-tired slogans ("I've Got One Speed: Go") and will shortly take his comedy act "My Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat Is Not an Option" on the road - his own show is over as well.

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On the site he rambles, poker-faced, about the trolls and warlocks, slamming each sentence with his signature stops: "Dogspeed," or "Hashtag: Fastball."

It is a small, haggard semiosis, and all signs point to Sheen's increasing desperation and hollow bravura.

Pop-culture events, in this fast time, move like lightning - a joke becomes a virus, meme and a bore in a day - and stars in crisis can only command our attention by spilling more and more blood.

Sheen's live shows sold out in minutes; he is on the cover of People, and in the news at all times. Most recently, 30 Rock star Alec Baldwin made headlines for calling Sheen "a drug-addled, porn-star-squiring, near-Joycean Internet ranter," but in the wrong; Baldwin said Sheen should "beg for America's forgiveness" and return to TV.

He should.

SNL has always been an excellent trending barometer, and the show aired its Sheen parody on March 5 (in Bill Hader's uncanny impersonation of the TV star, he suggested Sheen is using baby urine for his infamously immaculate drug tests).

Then, in a strange series of events, this past Saturday, Zach Galifianakis hosted and killed. In Galifianakis's latest film Due Date, he plays a bizarre aspiring actor who writes a fan blog called It's Raining Two and a Half Men. At the film's end, he appears on the sitcom as a stoned tutor.

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Sheen's cameo in Due Date is odd (TV looks so little in movies) and exhilarating: The show feels fresh and exciting, a good place to be.

And watching Galifianakis lately (who is no stranger to edginess or drug humour) makes one want to remind Sheen that #WINNING is a good thing. Why all the dark, sepulchral videos on the Sheen's-Korner webcasts? The brooding, smoky threats? What have you #WON?

Yet, on one level there is something enduringly fascinating about Apocalypse Me (his proposed autobiography title). Recently, Howard Stern floated the insightful idea to Sheen that the actor was obsessed with the film Apocalypse Now of late because it represents a way for Charlie to commune with his father, Martin Sheen, who co-starred with Marlon Brando in that film, and in life appears to have distanced himself and deemed his son ill, like a cancer sufferer.

As Sheen makes his slow, staggered speeches on his Sheen's Korner webcasts, he is riffing outrageously on Brando's mad Colonel Kurtz and playing to an unseen, mystified Martin Sheen/Captain Willard who simply fails to "see any method" behind all of this madness.

In Martin Sheen's opening monologue as Capt. Willard in Apocalypse Now, he observes (of the Viet Cong) that "every minute Charlie squats in the bush, he gets stronger."

Even Robert Duvall's rebel yell "Charlie don't surf!" (which became a Clash song) supports Charlie Sheen's analysis and re-enactment of the 1979 masterpiece: Busted by errand boys for a grocery store/TV network, Sheen is exposing the true horror at large here.

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The horror is that a TV network has fired him for his personal, not professional conduct. Forget about McCarthy's witch hunt: TV networks (and film companies) have been grossly violating the civil rights of their talent for decades. (Are certain stars allowed to come out, do you think? Are they allowed to express contentious points of view; allowed even to alter their hairstyles?)

Baldwin is right to ask Sheen to return to TV because Two and a Half Men is a great show; he is wrong to ask him to beg.

If Sheen has so many fans, why are they not pressuring CBS to drop-kick its frantic replacement show Mad Love back to the hellhole where it was devised and bring back its cash cow? They won't; we will lose interest in Colonel Sheen and never know what became of Two and a Half Men's Harper family, who are, already, terribly missed.

And Sheen deserves our attention - not for his misdirection, his laboured psychodrama, but for his predicament.

He was fired for living his life. He may not live wisely or well, but that is not for us or his boss to determine. Would you like your boss to analyze your downtime? To tell you how to act, dress, talk and comport yourself sexually?

No employee at Applebee's would tolerate this abuse of power!

Selfishly, I want Sheen to go back to being Charlie Harper. Pragmatically and, like Laurence Fishburne's Tyrone (Clean) Miller in Apocalypse Now, I urge him to take the money and "Run, Charlie!"

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