What’s the worst job in the world? It’s a question that could easily be answered in 2003. Back then, as Coalition forces poured into Iraq, the holder of the unenviable title of ‘worst job in the world’ was Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf – the Iraqi Information Minister. This was the man whose job it was to face the international media on a daily basis and try not so much to put a positive spin on things as attempt to convince you that up was down and black was white.
What’s the worst job in the world? It’s a question that could easily be answered in 2003. Back then, as Coalition forces poured into Iraq, the holder of the unenviable title of ‘worst job in the world’ was Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf – the Iraqi Information Minister. This was the man whose job it was to face the international media on a daily basis and try not so much to put a positive spin on things as attempt to convince you that up was down and black was white. Even when presented with overwhelming evidence that there were huge armies advancing towards the capital, he refused to concede, heroically responding ‘They are nowhere. They are on the moon. They are snakes in the desert’.
Perhaps most famously, he declared in a television interview that there were no tanks in Baghdad. His insistence was somewhat undermined by the tanks that, at that very moment, were driving behind him. That he was monstrously mistaken isn’t really the point; against all odds, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf was still willing to talk things up. Just as all was lost and the city Baghdad was wholly occupied, he had the task of declaring to the world that Iraq was ‘winning’. Perhaps inspired by the former Iraqi Information Minister, Charlie Sheen has revitalized this catch phrase.
I can’t help but feel partly responsible. When I claimed in 2008 that the television show, Two and a Half Men was so bad that it made cricket seem interesting, I had no idea that it would spark a chain reaction that would culminate in the ruination of this once all-conquering sitcom. My comments seemed to have no discernable impact at the time, as the show went from strength to putrid strength and Jon Cryer, Angus T Jones and Charlie Sheen were showered with more cash per episode than I am ever likely to earn my entire adult life.
But in an instant everything changed. Just as a pebble dropped into a pond will create a ripple that will eventually crash onto the shore, so too has my withering criticism finally felled Two and a Half Men. Several things have since become clear – firstly; Charlie Sheen is no more impressed with the jokes on that show than I am. Pitching himself as a veritable comedic alchemist, he claimed to be turning the scripts into ‘gold’. The second is simply this: Charlie Sheen works better without a script at all. Frankly, the things that fall out of his mouth when given free reign are vastly more entertaining than anything he said as Charlie Harper.
Consider the evidence. Over the past few weeks, he has referred to himself as a ‘total bitchin’ rock star from Mars’ and cautioned people from taking the substance ‘Charlie Sheen’, lest your face should ‘melt’ and your relatives forced to ‘weep over your exploded body.’ Clearly, his true calling is not that of actor but writer, because I defy anyone to come up with anything so defiantly wahooti fandango bizarre as that. Perhaps Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf could churn out something to that standard, but I understand that he’s since retired.
This isn’t a matter of an occasional outburst but, rather, a sustained campaign beamed directly from planet Sheen. Faced with the prospect of an ignominious sacking, old Charlie fought the good fight by demanding a pay rise. He has since announced a tour that is snappily entitled ‘My Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat is Not An Option’ tour whilst variously describing himself as an F-18 and a ‘warlock’ riding a ‘mercury surfboard’. But as much as he talks a good talk, you can’t escape the feeling that the tanks are driving around behind him even as he speaks.
Whilst the ubiquity of Two and a Half Men once drove me to describe Charlie Sheen as a human screensaver, I now feel kind of guilty. It’s an odd thing when you rail against something and then witness its collapse. Had I realised how fragile it was, I’d have probably kept my mouth shut. It seems, though, that I am in the minority. For whenever an article appears on the web pages of our major newspapers, all manner of people seize the opportunity to post their comments. A healthy percentage of such comments pose the question ‘who cares?’ perhaps overlooking the fact that they obviously cared enough to post a comment. What is it about website commentary that brings out the absolute worst in all of us? It used to be said that if you can’t say something nice, you shouldn’t say anything at all. Were this principle to be applied now, the internet as we currently know it would cease to operate.
The title of ‘worst job in the world’ most recently belonged to the Charlie Sheen’s press agent, who has since resigned. Whilst this is understandable, it makes me feel guiltier still. There’s one thing I can do to right this terrible wrong – I must volunteer to fill-in for Charlie Sheen on Two and a Half Men. Forget Rob Lowe, John Stamos, Dean from The Curiosity Show or whoever else they’re considering parachuting in there. This is the least I can do. It is clear that I have committed a terrible wrong against Charlie Sheen and it is up to me to hold the fort whilst he sorts itself out. That said, I’m yet to check my availability. If it turns out that the production schedule clashes with my hectic social life, allow me to suggest Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf for the role of Charlie Harper. He knows how to carry on regardless.