The Difference Between Charlie Sheen and Tiger

Two big scandals, two very different reactions

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Charlie Sheen is no stranger to scandal. In 1994, Sheen's name was publicly released during the trial of prostitution ring leader, Heidi Fleiss. In 1996 he was accused of throwing adult film star Brittany Ashland on the floor and splitting her lip. When he divorced Denise Richards in 2006, she claimed he attempted to murder her. And more recently, on Christmas day, he was arrested on second-degree assault and menacing charges after his wife called police alleging that Sheen threatened her with a knife.

But amidst this latest scandal, it appears that Sheen will retain his job at CBS as star of Two and a Half Men and his sponsorship deal with Hanes. He seems to be weathering the storm remarkably well, especially when compared with Tiger Woods, who has never been accused of any criminal transgressions. So why are the two scandals being treated so differently? Entertainment writers offer their notions, which range from the importance of public and corporate expectations to Sheen's friendlier image:

  • Sheen Is Scandal-Proof, writes Joe Plazza at CNN: "Sheen ... has known scandal before and has worked each of his arrests, divorces and indiscretions into the canon of bad-boy lore that has made him essentially scandal-proof." He quotes a public relations professor at Carnegie Mellon who says, "this behavior is built into the fabric of Charlie Sheen's bad-boy profile ... he will bounce back as long as his popularity on his show remains high."
  • It's About Expectations, writes Linda Stasi at The New York Post: "Sheen never pretended to be a good guy. He's a spouse, drug and alcohol abuser--who is charming enough on camera to pass as a bad boy instead of a bad man in real life. Woods, our hero, turned out to be a paper Tiger. Fans would rather stand by their man than be fooled by him."
  • It's About Corporate Assumptions, agrees Chuck Ross at TV Week, his point similar to Stasi's: "I'd be surprised if Hanes drops Sheen as an endorser. It was only about 18 months ago that they hired him to wear their underwear, and his reputation as a bad boy was already well established. In other words, if anyone at Hanes is surprised by this latest trouble that Sheen's gotten into, THEY should be fired." He's also very profitable, adds Ross. ""Nor do I think CBS will sanction Sheen, who TVGuide says is the highest paid actor on TV making about $20 million a year...And did I mention the show's a big hit?"
  • It's About Likability, writes Robert Seidman at TV by the Numbers: "Why won’t I be surprised if Sheen gets a pass where Tiger doesn’t?  Because Sheen is like a real life Hank Moody from Californication. He's got the lovable rogue thing down in spades.  Where Woods comes off surly and aloof, Sheen is charming and likable. Some will say it’s because Tiger is much more famous than Sheen, and I think Woods is more famous, both in the USA and throughout the world, but still think Woods' getting more scrutiny is more a result of his surly and aloof image than his fame."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.