By Chez Pazienza:
Angus T. Jones has something in common with many, many Americans: he thinks Two and a Half Men is crap. He's right about this. He's also correct when he says that many, many other Americans -- I have yet to meet any of them, but I'm not gonna go all Pauline Kael here -- watch Two and a Half Men with something bordering on infatuation. It's not one of the top-rated comedies on television for nothing.
Chances are by now you've heard that during a recent interview, Jones -- who's the titular "Half" of the show even though he's now almost 20 -- bit the hand that feeds him $350,000-an-episode by calling Two and a Half Men "filth." In an act of rebellion that I have to admit is pretty damn impressive and would do any self-respecting punk rock aficionado proud, Jones passionately lashed out at the sitcom that's been his meal ticket for the past nine years, imploring its vast audience to put him out of his apparent misery.
"I'm on Two and a Half Men and I don't want to be on it. If you watch Two and a Half Men, please stop watching it and filling your head with filth. People say it's just entertainment. Do some research on the effects of television and your brain, and I promise you you'll have a decision to make when it comes to television, especially with what you watch."
The kid's got balls -- I'll give him that. He's stupid and ungrateful as hell, but he's got balls. Still, this isn't a case of Angus Jones suddenly wising up and realizing that regardless of the small fortune he's making off of it, the show he's the star of is poorly written, badly acted garbage. Instead, Jones's outrage stems from the fact that he's turned his life over to Christ. The interview in question was with the Christian online show "ForeRunner Chronicles" and it marked the official coming out of Jones as a Seventh-Day Adventist. While I'm certainly no fan of faith-based religion -- and it can easily be argued that this is what it can do to a disillusioned young mind: make it think it's a good idea to throw away a career most people would kill for on a teenage whim -- I have to respect Jones's overall point and certainly the sincerity with which he seems to be approaching self-immolation.
"If I am doing any harm, I don't want to be here. I don't want to be contributing to the enemy's plan... You cannot be a true God-fearing person and be on a television show like that. I know I can't. I'm not OK with what I'm learning, what the Bible says and being on that television show."
That television show is admittedly exactly what Jones describes. To his credit, he's not going after a TV series that portrays, say, gay people as human beings or that at the very least confronts subjects some would consider controversial through subtlety or by turning them into art. No, Two and a Half Men has always trafficked in the glorification of the basest of stereotypically male impulses; it gets laughs through the kind of humor that most people outgrow around junior year of high school. This is why a lot of people hate the show and why just as many others love it.
I don't really think Two and a Half Men is ruining our culture, at least not through the degradation of its morals. It's far too dumb to have that much power. Railing at a show as boring and callow as Two and a Half Men is giving it far more power than any Chuck Lorre production deserves; it's a lot like those perpetually terrified and paranoid Christian conservatives of the recent past who truly believed that a ridiculously vaudevillian metal band like WASP was going to destroy our children. Jones is correct, though, when he implies that the show's very existence is an affront to good taste -- even if his reason for believing this has to do with his fear of "the enemy," whom I presume is Satan but could very well be Lorre.
It'll be fun to watch this play out over the next couple of weeks. Reports say that, despite the uproar, Angus Jones is currently "cool and calm" -- in a way that I'd imagine only the knowledge of eternal salvation can provide. CBS and Chuck Lorre are both staying quiet at the moment, no doubt trying to decide between running Jones off the show on a rail or milking this latest round of publicity for all it's worth. If the former happens, look for Angus Jones to star in the inevitable Fireproof sequel alongside fellow former child star-turned-fundamentalist-nutjob Kirk Cameron; if it's the latter, you can count on a hack like Lorre to begin writing Jones's Road-to-Damascus conversion into the storyline. Hijinks will ensue.
As for Jones himself, he'll either grow out of this stage of his late-teenage angst or he won't. Regardless, for those confused by his seemingly sudden change of heart: If you spent seven years hanging around Charlie Sheen every day, how would you rebel?