Why Is Tiger Woods America’s Bad Guy, Not Charlie Sheen?

On Christmas night, I sauntered into the kitchen to pour myself a glass of milk when my dad turned away from the TV to tell me that Charlie Sheen had been arrested for domestic violence. A major TV star? Domestic violence on Christmas? Zut alors! Blogger Jessica sprang to action: I hit up TMZ and typed out a post as quickly as I could. This will be huge, I thought.

It was all for naught, though. The Charlie Sheen story never became a Really Big Deal like the Tiger Woods scandal did. Maybe Woods’ established good-guy reputation is more fun to rip apart and all the mistresses are dishier. Or maybe Sheen’s lawyers really were successful in their effort to keep Brooke Mueller quiet and the controversy has been muffled into submission. (Last we heard, Mueller’s lawyers said the two just had a “bad night”—um, my bad nights don’t involve death threats!) Or maybe the nation just has Charlie Sheen Is A Douche fatigue.

But I don’t: Sheen allegedly held a knife to his wife’s throat and threatened to kill her—and he’s been convicted of physically abusing a girlfriend in the past. And yet the public reaction isn’t even one-tenth as much as the Tiger Woods scandal reaction. Since when is cheating worse than beating?The best piece about Sheen vs. Woods that I’ve seen is actually a short broadcast on NPR by the editor of The Hollywood Reporter, Andrew Wallenstein.

He compared Sheen’s alleged domestic violence incident with the affairs of Woods, Sen. John Edwards and David Letterman, and asked why we aren’t tut-tutting more at “chronic miscreants like Sheen instead of less prolific wrongdoers” than the other men. The best excuses Wallenstein can come up with are: 1.) everyone expects this behavior out of Charlie Sheen; and 2.) he’s not only a boozy womanizer in real life but he plays a “smarmy rake” on TV, too. To quote:

…If the blurring of [Sheen’s] real and fictional personas hasn’t lulled the public into giving him a pass, then the frequency of his bad behavior sure has. We’re better than this, America. So lets all make a resolution in the new year—to exercise a more rational morality in our celebrity worship.

Well put. “Two And A Half Men” is apparently a good show and Charlie Sheen is the highest paid actor on television—but the man clearly has screwed-up long-term substance abuse and violence issues. If Sheen, a father of four, is convicted of the crimes Mueller has alleged, it’s time for the kid gloves to come off. He doesn’t sound like a lovable scamp anymore—he sounds like a danger to his family’s safety. [NPR]