Am I a Hypocrite for Laughing at Charlie Sheen’s Ads?

Last week, I scolded Dior for calling their line “Dior Addict” and using Kate Moss, an alleged drug addict, for their campaign.

Yet, a few days ago, I saw Fiat’s new commercial called “House Arrest,” with Charlie Sheen and laughed out loud.

It got me thinking. Why was I so offended by Dior Addict and Kate Moss, yet I enjoy the ads from Fiat and DIRECTV starring Sheen? Am I a hypocrite? Am I being harder on one sex than the other?

The answer I’ve come up with is “I don’t think so.” Let me know if you think it’s a line of bull.

First, let’s look at the DIRECTV ad:

This clearly is making fun of Sheen and has a sort of playful vibe to it because Charlie is in on the joke. The guy in the ad meets Charlie Sheen in a Turkish bath house and then takes him home to re-enact movie scenes with the actor. You see a crazed-looking Charlie rising from behind plants aiming his crossbow at the guy. And you hear a voice:

“Don’t re-enact scenes from Platoon with Charlie Sheen.”

Funny! And good advice. I don’t find this offensive at all because it’s so off the wall and playful.

Then, a few days ago, I saw the Fiat 500 Abarth ad. Take a look:

Granted, I began loving it before I knew Charlie Sheen was the guy driving the car inside the house. My first thought on who it was (probably because I live near West Chester, PA) is that it was Bam Margera (notorious for pulling stunts like this in his parents’ home).

But then you see the driver’s foot step out of the car and it’s got an ankle bracelet (the criminal tracking kind) on it. Charlie makes a joke about loving being under house arrest, and then turns to the beautiful woman next to him and says, “What do I get for good behavior?”

Clever, witty, and perfect for Charlie Sheen.

But then I started having these feelings. These icky, uncomfortable feelings of not being sure if I was viewing the Sheen ads and the Kate Moss ads with the same moral barometer.

After much thought, I’m standing my ground. Here’s what I believe:

  1. Both Kate Moss and Charlie Sheen deserve to still be able to work in their professions. I think most people, including me, would love to see both of them stay healthy and sober and put out good work.
  2. The DIRECTV commercial is blatant in its intent to make fun of Charlie Sheen and use that fun to promote their product. And, it’s kind of nice to see Sheen making fun of himself and how far he’s fallen (after all, he was damn good in Platoon).
  3. The Fiat commercial, while entertaining, does make me a little uneasy. I think I’d be more comfortable laughing at it if I knew Sheen was committed to staying sober and if he hadn’t treated women so horribly in the past. The line “Not all bad boys are created equal,” at the end, leaves the impression that Fiat is doing more than making fun—they sound like they’re glorifying what he’s done.
  4. Dior’s Addict advertising, though, is still the worst offender to me. Their tagline, “Be iconic” along with their “Addict” name and choice of representative makes it very clear they are glorifying Kate Moss’ jaded history.

I will still laugh at the Fiat commercial. It’s a brilliantly creative ad with a terrific driving demonstration reminiscent of the Bourne Identity movie.

As for Dior Addict, I stand firm. It’s a horrible example to set for teen girls and women everywhere. Kate Moss’ comeback could have been glorious, but it’s tainted and irresponsible.

Not all bad boys or girls are created equal, indeed. But, I honestly don’t think it’s the gender of these stars that is causing my different take on their ads. I think it’s the content, so that I’m okay with.

What do you think?

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4 comments

  1. Liam Dempsey · March 30, 2012

    Hi Coreen,

    You raise a good question: how does a company walk the line between edgy/entertaining and too far? It’s definitely a meandering line that different viewers will see/draw in different places depending on their own personal experiences.

    In reply to your question about the appropriateness of the Charlie Sheen ads versus the Kate Moss ad, I think Dior’s direct connection between Moss, addiction and its own product is problematic in that it makes addiction a core element of the ad campaign. The focus on addiction is particularly concerning given Moss’s own history.

    As the Sheen ads do not rely on the emphasis of chemical addition to make the ads “work”, I would agree with you that they are less offensive.

    • ctmarcom · March 30, 2012

      Thank you, Liam…not for agreeing with my, but for explaining your opinion so well. And you are so right in saying: It’s definitely a meandering line that different viewers will see/draw in different places depending on their own personal experiences. Well said!

  2. Coreen I don’t think you are being hypocritical. The Dior ads with Kate Moss are promoting the idea of indulgence and addiction. The Sheen ads are poking fun at his situation. Two different things, and the Sheen ads are funny.

    • ctmarcom · April 24, 2012

      Thanks, Ryan. Very well said. Recently, I noticed that the Dior Addict ad was in either Teen Vogue or Seventeen magazine, and that is reprehensible in my eyes–promoting anything called “Addict” to the teen set.

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