23 January 2008

The Updated Version of Foster Brooks?

In the 70s, Foster Brooks made a career of pretending to be the "lovable lush"--the raging alcoholic at whatever venue in which he happens to find himself.

The other day, I'm watching "Two and a Half Men" and thinking about the character of Charlie Harper--the raging alcoholic at whatever venue in which he happens to find himself.

And I posited that Charlie Harper is this decade's updated Foster Brooks.

We would no longer laugh at Foster Brooks, the belching, stumbling, boorish, out-of-control drunk because clearly he has a serious problem--a disease, fergawdssake--and there's nothing funny about that. It wouldn't be politically correct. Or even kind.

But it's okay to laugh at Charlie who is a high-functioning alcoholic. He always has a drink--often straight from the bottle, frequently passes out, periodically wakes up in strange places--like the neighbor's dog house, sometimes suffers from memory loss, admits that he is an alcoholic and that he uses alcohol to deal with most situations.

So what's the difference?

Charlie is still a fairly tightly controlled presence... and therefore it's all in good fun, yes?

Alcohol is funny if we remain in control of it or allow it to control us but only as we choose?

Foster's character doesn't know how he's coming across but Charlie's does know or doesn't care?

That's the only difference I can see... that we commiserate with Charlie but we distance ourselves from Foster's character because Charlie remains "cool" most of the time and Foster never is. So, the lesson is: it's okay to be an alcoholic if you remain cool?

Dunno. I invite other theories.

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