The mainstream media sent real critics to the Charlie Sheen tour's opening night in Detroit, for whatever reason. It didn't take their experience to know it went badly. There was booing of the star, insults shouted back and forth, and early exits. "This show sucks," one of the first to flee told Fox 2 News last night in Detroit. A.O Scott, for many years the film critic for the New York Times:
As it happened, Mr. Sheen and Detroit proved to be a disastrous match. ...You could say that Mr. Sheen and the audience failed each other. The ticket buyers did not show him the “love and gratitude” to which he felt entitled, and he did not give them the kind of entertainment they thought they had paid for. But you could also say that the performer and the audience deserved each other, and that their mutual contempt was its own kind of bond."
The Los Angeles Times dispatched actual theater critic Charles McNulty, who posted on Facebook "it was an assignment that, suffice it to say, came as rather a big surprise to me." His review observes that Sheen brings to the stage "no ability as a live performer and has this passage:
While doing his best to cash in on his recent cult with the launch of his "My Violent Torpedo of Truth / Defeat Is Not an Option Show," he tried to position himself as a folk hero of freedom. Unfortunately for him the audience that turned out at the Fox Theatre in Detroit took him at his word: They felt free to boo him off the stage.
Well, it's not every day you see that. Earlier in the weekend, Times' Company Town writer Joe Flint went the counter-intuitive route and analyzed that Sheen may be winning his PR battle.
Sheen...appears to have a method to his madness. Since launching his media blitzkrieg in his fight against Warner Bros. and Lorre, he has surprisingly dictated much of the media coverage. Despite a tabloid-ready past that includes drug addiction, three messy divorces, a penchant for prostitutes and accusations of violence toward women, Sheen has somehow been able to portray himself as a David battling evil corporate Goliaths.
When the actor made a cameo appearance on Jimmy Kimmel's late-night show last week, he was hailed much like a conquering war hero by the studio audience.
Things went much better for Sheen in Chicago tonight, by the way.