Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Bad boys and snakes (by Suzie)

Charlie Sheen was charged with assault, menacing and criminal mischief after his wife told police the actor pinned her on a bed, put a knife to her throat and threatened to kill her in a Christmas Day fight that began when she said she wanted a divorce."

I bet these charges disappear, as often happens when it's a woman's word against a rich, powerful man. In the past, Sheen's previous wife said he tried to kill her, a woman he dated ended up shot, and he plead no contest to a charge of battery against another woman. Jo Piazza, for CNN, says:
While any claims of violence against women, whether real or alleged, can be career ending for a celebrity, Sheen seems to be a special case. This is not the first time he has been at the center of a domestic violence scandal, and the stories don't seem to harm his reputation.
Piazza goes on to say that the accusations bolster his "bad-boy" reputation, and this reputation helps him get roles as rogues. In fact, some have bestowed "bad boy" on him as a title, calling him "Bad boy Charlie Sheen."

Women can be seen as "bad girls" for drinking, drugging, partying and being promiscuous -- something that young, single men are expected to do. To be a bad boy, men usually have to display violence, against women or other property. Our society seems to tolerate aging bad boys much better than their female counterparts.

In contrast to Sheen, Piazza says, Tiger Woods' affairs destroyed his image as a clean-cut family man. (Other thoughts are here.) Sheen is more akin to Roman Polanski and Mike Tyson. In both cases, supporters said the victims should have known not to spend time alone with the men if they didn't want sex. I assume people will say that any woman interested in Sheen should know what to expect. It's like the song by Al Wilson above. (Most of the lyrics are correct, but I think he's referring to "couverture," not "curvature.")

So, how many male celebrities have lost their careers after women accused them of violence? Not Polanski or Tyson. Not Evel Knievel or Tracy Lawrence or Harry Morgan or David Hasselhoff or Sean Penn or Tommy Lee or OJ (before the murder). Not Chris Brown or James Brown or Jackson Browne.

Let's look at that last case. Browne denied hitting Daryl Hannah, she didn't press charges, and much later, she retracted her accusation (although I can't find a good source on the retraction). The Santa Monica police issued a statement that no assault had occurred.

As a fan of Browne's early music, I've wished for a definitive account of what happened. I know that victims often fail to press charges or recant. I know police are not infallible.

Browne wouldn't say how she got a black eye and bruises. He just painted her as crazy. Joni Mitchell, a former lover, supported Hannah, who had met Browne as a teenager. According to Sheila Weller, Mitchell later attempted suicide after Browne hit her and left her for a woman who would later succeed at suicide. After Hannah's accusations, Mitchell wrote "Not to Blame," a scathing song about batterers that Browne thought was about him. He called Mitchell "disturbed." No one says he got what he deserved for hooking up with all these disturbed women.

Let's return to the Piazza piece, which posits "real" vs. "alleged" violence against women. I guess "alleged" means the writer thinks the crazy or drunk or gold-digging woman lied.
Edited to correct a mistake and for clarity.