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Globe Editorial

Sheen: Self-destruction as entertainment

April 11, 2011

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It’s hard to know what precisely to make of Charlie Sheen’s “Torpedo of Truth Tour,’’ which rolls into the Agganis Arena tomorrow. On one hand, Sheen’s schtick of insta-catchphrases and sneering self-promotion might be the product of substance abuse — and even mental illness. On the other hand, Sheen’s rants against his CBS overlords have clearly struck some sort of populist chord, making him an unlikely (and extremely well-compensated) symbol of personal freedom in the face of corporate greed.

How long Sheen can make a career out of this is an open question. There’s only so much tiger blood the public can hear about, and there will be plenty of regret to go around if his victory lap ends in tragedy. In the meantime, though, Sheen has decided to take people’s money, so it’s his responsibility to entertain.

After a disastrous debut in Detroit, Sheen apparently revised his show to make it feel more worth the $15 to $350 that the Agganis Arena is charging for tickets. (Word is that ticket agencies are now offering seats at deeper discounts.) Crowds in Chicago and Ohio seem to have largely been pleased, and surely ticketholders knew what they were likely to get. There has always been an audience for train wrecks; TV is currently full of them. Sheen’s innovation, if you can call it that, is that he’s taking his train wreck directly to the people.