Charlie Sheen Is to Pop Culture as Sarah Palin Is to Politics

Dumenco's Trendrr Chart of the Week

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What a difference a week makes. Whereas last week Charlie Sheen grabbed our collective attention because there was something quasi-entertaining about his comedic take on his spectacular meltdown (e.g., calling himself an "unemployed winner" in his Twitter bio), this week he's grabbing our attention because, well, the whole mess has stopped being funny. The social sphere -- Twitter especially -- loves comedy and it loves tragedy. Charlie Sheen was briefly sort of amusing; now he's just sad-making.

Charlie Sheen has turned the Twittersphere's frowns upside down, and then back again.
Charlie Sheen has turned the Twittersphere's frowns upside down, and then back again.

The turning point? The weekend debut of his awful webcast, "Sheen's Korner." And the release of pathetic details about his work ethic, as outlined in the lengthy letter Warner Bros. sent to his lawyer to officially fire him from "Two and a Half Men," didn't help. ("As outtakes of the filming show, Mr. Sheen had difficulty remembering his lines and hitting his marks. His conduct and condition created substantial tensions on the set.")

Right now Charlie Sheen is to pop culture as Sarah Palin is to politics. Both are self-styled folk heroes with a knack for dopey catchphrases ("Tiger Blood," "Mama Grizzly") who remain in the national conversation largely because people can't stop talking about how damn sick they are of them. Sheen got a fresh new boost in negative buzz this week thanks to the release of Tinted Sheen, a plug-in for Firefox and Chrome browsers that automatically blocks mentions of his name and face. And Palin got a fresh boost in bad buzz because she scraped the bottom of a new Quinnipiac University "National Thermometer" poll that gauged voters' feelings toward 23 national political figures. (Michelle Obama, with 60.1 degrees of "warmth," topped the list; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, at 57 degrees, was the top-ranked Republican; Sarah Palin, at 38.2 degrees, was the lowest-ranked Republican, though at least she did better than Harry Reid, with 34.8 degrees, and Nancy Pelosi, with 32.9 degrees.)

Trendrr chart

Trendrr's Celebrity Activity Score shows Charlie Sheen beating out Justin Bieber.

As for Sheen, all the sudden Sheen-bashing is demonstrably causing him to dominate even more of our collective consciousness. Which brings me to Trendrr's Celebrity Activity Score, developed by our editorial partners at Trendrr, the social-media monitoring service. Every 24 hours, refreshed scores are generated by looking at 20 social actions across social networks, blogs, video and photo sites (including Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, etc.). For instance, a link shared about Sheen on Facebook adds a point, every new follower he adds on Twitter adds a point, and so on.

Yesterday Sheen had 310,767 points. Today he's up to 448,668. (Yes, he's overshadowing even Justin Bieber.) I suspect -- hope -- he's nearing his peak. But I confess that another part of me hopes that he starts campaigning in Iowa …

Dumenco's Trendrr Chart of the Week is produced in collaboration with Wiredset, the New York digital agency behind Trendrr.

Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" media columnist for Advertising Age. You can follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.

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