Last night, 60 Minutes delivered interviews with two of the hottest media properties going around – one from Australian circles, one globally. Both interviews polarised people across social media networks. What is painfully obvious is that both central characters are playing very dangerous games with a very attention starved media, and both aren’t sure how it’s really playing out for them.

Charlie Sheen has become a monster of his own making. A 20+ year veteran of Hollywood movies & television, he’s been around the block more than once. Sheen’s performance in this and the many other interviews he’s held in the last two weeks are reveal a few things: His mind is still suffering from the after-effects of taking serious amounts of illict drugs; He’s in desperate need of a new publicist, if only to tell him to shut up; He thinks he knows exactly what he’s doing in playing this current character for the media & the world; & whether is through dumb luck or great advice, he’s leveraging social networks to get his message to the people directly – unedited, without spin doctors, & unretractable.

Sheen is playing a dangerous game, but he’s a fully grown man who will live and die by the consequences. No matter what people think, he is going to continue to do whatever he feels like doing (he is WINNING, after all) until he chooses to or is forced to stop. The only person he is really hurting is himself – pain for his girlfriends, his children, is all collateral & they are all in a position to choose to be with him or remove themselves from his influence (or in the care of people who are doing that for them, in the case of his kids). Charlie Sheen is on Charlie Sheen, and no amount of face-melting will convince him or the world otherwise.

If it turns out to be a spectacular PR stunt, good on him. Beyond that, he has my pity (though he may not deserve it) and as long as no more episodes of Two and a Half Men are made, Sheen’s work here is done.

Kim Duthie – the “St Kilda schoolgirl” – is an entirely different kettle of fish. At 17 and ostracised by her family, Duthie is well and truly a girl on her own and well out of her depth (no matter how much she doth protest otherwise). Her interview with Liz Hayes was disturbing in her honesty; that she was so willing to lie about one thing to seek revenge, yet so willing to hook up with a man old enough to be her father she had previously professed to having hated… she’s confused, scared, alone and needs support.

That doesn’t excuse her behaviour in any fashion. Nor does remove the AFL footballers and AFL player manager who have clearly dealt with her indecently from the crosshairs of blame. No matter how manipulated the former may have been, she is still (and certainly was when she was involved with them) a child. As for the latter, his direct manipulation and coercing of Duthie is downright appalling – bordering on paedophillic, almost like he was grooming her once he got near her. These “men” need to be reminded in a very real way of their responsibilities in dealing with the public – especially women. If Ricky Nixon ever works as an AFL player manager again it will be an outrage.

Duthie’s use of media (particularly social media) to spread her story, control her image, has on one hand been spectacular. She’s had the press hanging off every tweet for a couple of months now. People have, rightly or wrongly, wanted to know what she’s going to do or say next. It’s gotten her in hot water (in part to her almost complete disregard for the law), but she’s basically sailed through it. However it’s in her handling of the media that has been her downfall. They’ve been able to manipulate her to get what they want, which has contributed to the release of pictures, video and information that may have seen her in big trouble. For all her toughened exterior, she’s a very scared little girl.

It’s clear Duthie needs help. Support. A judgement-free ear to listen and broad shoulders for being cried on. She needs some one/people in her corner encouraging her and supporting her as she now tries to build a life (and possibly even reconcile with her family). It may be all shits and giggles for her right now, but there were moments in her interview that you could see the complete fear and panic in her eyes. All her cards are played, she’s alone, and she knows it. Whatever happens, it’ll be a bumpy ride with compassion and forgiveness required to help her turn her life around in the face of this mess. She’s hardly innocent in this mess, however she’s not exactly working from a position of experience & maturity.

Sheen has all the money in the world to get all the help he wants to listen to. Duthie is living off a handout from the St Kilda Football Club, and whatever 60 Minutes paid her (which will not last forever). It may end poorly for him, however it stands to be much worse for her if no assistance appears soon (or she rejects that which does appear).


Image/Video sources – Ch9.