By Mary Robb Jackson

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Actor Charlie Sheen has been ranting about his rep as a party animal, his life as a druggie, his reputation with porn stars and his five children while dissing his bosses.

In between, Sheen is demanding that his pay per episode of “Two and a Half Men” be doubled.

One pollster says Charlie’s popularity has increased more than 400-percent in the past week, so is he crazy or crazy like a fox and why do we continue to watch?

“I am on a drug – it’s called Charlie Sheen!” That’s Sheen in one of his many “exclusive” recent interviews.

Maybe the rest of us are on that drug too or is it just another symptom of the “train wreck culture” we find ourselves living in.

“I talk about how – like Charlie Sheen I don’t care – but I watch it like every night like on ‘E! News’ every night,” says a young woman on Forbes Avenue.

Dr. David Shumway, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, pins part of the attraction on the media.

“Mass media does have to take some responsibility for this,” he said. “The 24-hour news cycle makes these things more significant than they might otherwise be.”

Charlie boasts that he’s different from most of us. “People that don’t have tiger blood and Adonis DNA,” he said.

Another Oakland passerby offers this explanation. “That’s what’s selling right now – weird stuff is selling right now.”

The man who, until now, was the highest-paid actor on television, says he doesn’t really care if we think he’s slipped a few cogs.

“Half people think I’m insane or they don’t think what I’m saying is true,” he said. “I have no interest in their retarded opinions.”

Dr. Shumway believes perhaps we envy Sheen’s rant a little.

“I think they envy being able to tell your boss off – being able to say to CBS – um, you know, ‘Take a walk,’ and all of us would probably like to do that sometimes and most of us can’t!”

“People need some sense of drama in their life so they turn to television,” is a Lawrenceville man’s assessment of why we watch.

“The truth is that people have always been interested in gossip – long before the mass media, people told stories about their neighbors misfortunes,” adds Dr. Shumway.

And summing it up Charlie observes, “I don’t think people are ready for the message that I’m delivering and delivering with a sense of violent love.”

A message on Twitter spotted earlier said: “Car accidents are slowing down to watch Charlie Sheen.”

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