Thursday, March 3, 2011

Anna Karenina and Charlie Sheen, separated at birth?

First of all, wow. I finished Anna Karenina yesterday. I feel like I've been listening to it forever. Now that it's over, I sort of miss those crazy Russians. What a story! Full of family complications, jealousy, betrayal, resignation. It is epic. Fine work, Mr. Tolstoy. I salute you.
Now, about the title of my post comparing Ms. Karenina with Mr. Sheen-- why, you ask? HOW? Charlie Sheen has been all over the news lately like white on rice, and it got me thinking that he and Anna Karenina are very similar. First, the adultery and/or exploits. Anna brings Vronsky into her home while her son is there and he totally knows what's going on. Charlie fools around with a porn star and trashes a hotel room while his daughters are in the next room.
Second, substance abuse. Anna is using opium like it's going out of style at one point. I thought that would be her end. Charlie has been in rehab a few times and his alcohol and drug use is well documented.
Third, they both live on the fringes of society and dislike feeling judged by others. Anna can't even go out in society in Moscow and that nasty lady at the opera is really mean to her. She's an outcast because she can't divorce Alexei Alexandrovitch and marry Vronsky, and she has an illegitimate child. Charlie Sheen, although in the limelight, is on the fringes because he has gotten into trouble with the law and his job, to the point that his TV show is cancelled and he is facing custody issues with his recent ex. Anna can't stand being an outcast and often references her "position." Charlie, in his recent interview on 20/20, likened himself to not being of this terrestrial plain and says he has "tiger blood" and "Adonis DNA." They are frustrated with how they feel other people feel about them.
Finally, they both come off to me as rather erratic. At one point in the audio book, when Anna is being particularly unreasonable about Vronsky, saying that she doesn't care, and he'll pay for this, and the letter doesn't reach him but she thinks she's been given the brush-off and Vronsky wants to leave her, I literally, after every sentence, said aloud, "Because you're crazy!" Anna was out of her mind. Charlie Sheen has made some comments in interviews that seem unusual, like the tiger blood thing, and generally isn't making sense these days, at least to me.
Besides all that, I admire Anna Karenina and Charlie Sheen for being themselves and not conforming to anyone else's standards. Anna loved Vronsky obsessively and they both paid the price. Charlie Sheen likes his lifestyle and doesn't lie about it, and time will tell what happens next. Do I condone it? No, but I appreciate the honesty.
I think if I had read Anna Karenina I would not have liked it as much. I mentioned before that the reader of the audio book was great, and her name escapes me at the moment, but I will look it up. It was very accessible. And Tolstoy, what a beautiful and heartbreaking piece of literature. I think Charlie Sheen should read it.


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