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03/03/2011

What's so funny about Charlie Sheen?

Charlie Sheen, who shocked the world and invited ridicule with some bizarre rants earlier this week, has become a social media star. Sheen was a little late to the party with his Twitter account, set up this week, but he's making up for lost time; he has set a new Guiness World Record for the quickest time to reach a million followers.

@Charliesheen, a verified account on Twitter, had actually gathered 1.3 million followers as of earlier today. Sheen has been talking up his own soundbites from interviews with ABC and NBC in the past week. "Face it folks, you just feel better when you say it. #WINNING" said one Twitter quote.

Given that Sheen's publicist quit, and that he's now done with interviews for the time being, it seems as though he's taking his message direct.

But that's not the most interesting thing about this whole affair. Not the bizarre interviews, or the public war with CBS over the cancellation of his show, or the way in which celebrities get to control their own messaging - for better or worse - directly through social media.

I've been thinking a lot this morning about whether it's ethical for us to watch celebrities implode (sometimes apologetically and sometimes not) online, whether it's Charlie, Britney, or Tiger? Is it right to mock what looks like a significant internal crisis at best, and a form of mental illness at worst, just because it's happening to a celebrity online?  I posted my fair share of Sheen jokes on Facebook on Monday and Tuesday. And spoof sites  and videos are proliferating wildly as we speak. But what happens when, one day, a celebrity self-destructs all the way in full public view, and loses everything? What if Sheen implodes further in the future? Will it still be as funny then?

Danny Bradbury, MSN Tech & Gadgets

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Danny BradburyDanny Bradbury

Danny Bradbury is a technology journalist with 20 years' experience. He writes regularly for publications including the Guardian, the Financial Times, the Financial Post, and Backbone magazine. Danny also writes and directs documentaries.

Maurice CachoMaurice Cacho

Maurice Cacho is a Toronto-based journalist mixing his love for tech with a passion for news. He's also CP24's Web Journalist and appears daily on CP24 Breakfast and weekly on the channel's tech show, Webnation, discussing tech news and trends.

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