Saturday, March 12, 2011

"Five Things Charlie Sheen Can Teach Us About Politics"

This post by Jessica Levinson originally appeared in the Huffington Post.

1. No one is watching until there is a train wreck.

Certainly Sheen has been a famous figure in Hollywood for decades, but Sheenmania didn't hit a fever pitch until he started chugging tiger blood and winning, make that imploding right before our eyes.

Similarly, take the scandal-plagued city of Bell, California as a political example of this phenomenon. Few knew about this small, industrial city until allegedly greedy, crocked politicians started paying themselves absurd sums, And if you need more proof, who knew Nevada Senator John Ensign until he faced an ethics investigation based in part on an affair with a campaign aide? Which brings me to # 2...

2. Everyone loves a good sex scandal.

It isn't so much that Sheen seems to have launched himself on a self-destructive course with supersonic speed, it is also that he's bringing some "goddesses" along for the ride. Sheen's much-discussed purported love of porn and prostitutes hasn't hurt interest in his recent "Sheen-aningans."

There are so many politicians hit by sex scandals that its difficult to highlight just a few. However, I think John Edwards, Eliot Spitzer, Gary Hart, not to mention Bill Clinton would tell you that where there is a an affair and/or over sexual behavior, there is a reporter waiting to write about it, and an audience ready to read it.

3. New / social medial is increasingly the way to reach people.

Sheen's public relations nose dive may have begun on television, but it was amplified and perpetuated thanks to websites like YouTube. Also, lets not forget the popularity of his tweets, (he has 2.5 million followers, and counting) or his new freak, I mean web "show," "Sheen's Korner."

Politicians are increasingly tuned in to new medial and social media as a way to reach constituents. Many of our elected officials have set up Facebook and Twitter accounts. In the last presidential debates, candidates took questions submitted via YouTube. And after the protests in Egypt and Libya, it is hard to overestimate the power of social media over politics.

4. It doesn't hurt to talk about the kids.

Every time Sheen talks about the importance of gaining custody of his children, we're reminded that even if he is constantly #winning, he is a terrestrial being who is a father. Simply put, it humanizes him.

Please do not ask me to count the number of times a politician has trotted out his smiling family to help his image as a loving family man. A beaming, adoring child never hurt a politician's poll numbers.

5. Sometimes it is best to stop talking.

If dear Mr. Sheen had given one interview, he might have seemed mysterious. After a veritable media blitz he seems, well to put it politely, a bit loopy. It might be best to stop talking about things like getting and staying sober, and in the immortal words of Nike, just do it.

And finally to the politicians of the world, I would be ever so grateful if you would stop talking about what you did, want to do, and/or couldn't do, and just do something. I know it isn't easy, and I realize that it is easier to throw stones and that there is only so much time in the day. One way to alleviate that situation is to talk less and do more.

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