Welcome to Instant Meta! Charlie Sheen and the Speed of Social Media
Welcome to Instant Meta! Charlie Sheen and the Speed of Social Media
Laurel Brown
Laurel Brown
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
Meta is cool. Through meta, source material is made funnier or more interesting by the investigation of the original ideas. The results can be brilliant. But - usually -- there is a delay between the original art and the meta interpretation. After all, what's the point of meta if the source material hasn't had time to permeate society?

So what happens when social media allows that source material to permeate at super-high speeds? We get "instant" meta. Charlie Sheen may have provided us with a prime example.

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Unless you've been living in a wireless-free cave for the past few weeks, you know about Charlie Sheen's rapid descent into insanity. Recently the highest-paid actor on television, Charlie Sheen quickly and publicly became a mess. A joke. A cautionary tale. The symbol of all that's wrong with our celebrity-obsessed culture.

That was yesterday. Today, we've moved on to self-parody!

Funny or Die released a video entitled "Charlie Sheen's Winning Recipes." The video stars a suddenly back-in-control Charlie Sheen. The dialog consists mostly of dressed-up sound bites uttered in recent weeks by Charlie Sheen. And the butt of every joke is Charlie Sheen himself.



The video, much like many Charlie Sheen quotes, is quite funny. Unlike in his interviews, however, Charlie doesn't come off as bonkers. Instead, he's a funny, witty guy taking the opportunity to laugh at himself for everyone's benefit. Yes, the video plays like Charlie Sheen is advertising Old Spice, but it's still an entertaining farce.

But what he's laughing at only just happened.

We're within days of the actor's crazy-town media blitz. Do we really think that the Charlie Circus of Insanity has closed up shop? When we're talking about a guy who was spewing out the insanity of warlocks, trolls and Vatican assassins yesterday, can we honestly expect reasoned reflection today?

It remains to be seen if the Funny or Die video is a sane blip in the Sheen lunacy or a trend toward something new. Or if this is actually a trend in our culture -- scandals that turn into jokes that turn into old news before we can blink.

Parodies like "Charlie Sheen's Winning Recipes" used to only come months or years after the inspiring events. The subject had to face his demons, change his behavior and move on before audiences were ready to laugh at the previous horrors.

Not now though. With the over-saturation of Charlie Sheen coverage coming at us from our computers, radios and televisions, we in the consuming public have already over-indulged. The main meal of scandal has passed. And we're ready for our parody dessert.

But will so much rich food -- with the scandal meal so close to the parody treat -- provide winning satisfaction in the end? Or will we just end up sick to our stomachs?


Is Charlie Sheen insane or a brilliant artist? Where is any of this going? Did you find the video funny or disturbing? Leave a comment with your opinions!

(Image courtesy of STS/WENN, video courtesy of Funny or Die)



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