Posts tagged Martin Sheen
Posts tagged Martin Sheen
The literary critic Lionel Trilling predicted in his 1972 book Sincerity and Authenticity that our culture would come to a point in which the only truly authentic artist was an insane one.
If all you have to rebel against is “whatever you got,” then rebellion for rebellion’s sake turns against your own humanity.
How seductive is open-ended rebellion when it first blooms in the heart of a healthy, attractive person - as perfectly captured by Charlie Sheen’s extraordinary cameo in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
But Charlie Sheen adopted this pose and never grew up. We paid him a fortune to stay this way. Now he pays the price. And so do we - as we experience the wild but soul-sickening spectacle of his public flame out. As my daughter put it, “we’re not watching him anymore – we’re just watching his addiction.”
This is FameUs culture at its nadir.
FameUs: the ever-widening sense of intimacy we have with our celebrities, the feeling of control we have over their self-expression and the growing conviction that we ourselves are going to be famous.
Now comes Charlie’s brother Emilio Estevez who has directed a movie about a father who goes on an ancient pilgrimage called the Camino Santiago, the Way of Saint James. Entitled “The Way” and scheduled for release this Spring, the film tells the story of a father whose estranged son has perished in an accident while walking the Camino.
Martin Sheen’s character leaves his social bubble in California and goes to collect his son’s body. He makes a decision to walk the Camino with his late son’s backpack and to deposit his ashes at holy points along the way to the Santiago de Compostella, the final destination of the Pilgrimage. This labor of love leads him to a new grasp of what real life is all about.
I have walked this very same Camino. It is a huge cultural phenomenon in Spain and has a rapidly growing cult throughout Europe. Twenty years ago almost no one walked it. Now the Spanish government estimates it attracts as many as 100,000 pilgrims a year.
I have only seen the trailer for Emilio Estevez’s movie. It looks extraordinarily beautiful and totally authentic to the subject.
One of the things that happens on the Camino is that people pretty much stop using their mobile phones and unplug from social media as they walk it. They also find themselves taking a genuine interest in everyone they meet along the way and engaging in soul-searching, amazingly honest conversations. No matter your beliefs or starting motive, it is impossible not to be changed by the experience.
So it is no surprise to me that when the press called Martin Sheen for a comment on Charlie Sheen’s public meltdown, Martin said, “We lift him up and we ask that you do, too.”
He is trying to turn us away from spectacle and turn us to compassion and hope – and that is indeed the pure spirit of AnonymUs.
AnonymUs: the growing conviction that so much of social media is communal narcissism, the impulse to unplug from a culture of celebrity worship, and the spiritual inspiration to lose oneself in pursuing a greater social good.