Two and a Half Men Child Star Calls Show “Filth”

Breaking: A 19-year-old did something rash! 

Child star Angus T. Jones (who works on a television show for which I am not the target demographic and have thus not managed to watch more than ten minutes of) apparently had a religious conversion that prompted him to call the show “filth.” But then he apologized for it.

You know when Jones started working on Two and a Half Men? When he was ten. Do you know what it’s like to be a child star? No, neither do I. But the few semi-public figures that I do know—who are mostly religion-nerd-famous, not for-real-famous—have indicated that a big, big, big thing is managing access. People want to get close, more than you have time for. And often it’s because they want to extract the things from you that they would find personally useful. And the people who have the worst boundaries are, of course, the ones who will act like you have nothing better to do than meet their need for access to you, and they will have the hardest time of anyone hearing otherwise.

Okay, so here’s a kid who’s been on a TV series since he was ten, and has presumably been having conversations about managing career, brand, and access for part of that time. One of his coworkers seems to have had very public mental health problems and was alleged to have abused a number of people, including some in the workplace.

Oh, and in the video, Jones also says—if you actually watch the whole two-part testimony—that he started using drugs at a young age. 

(He also says “I like black people.” NO SRSLY. HE SAYS THAT. MORE ON THAT IN A MOMENT.)

I don’t share his theology, but guess I just don’t find it surprising or remarkable that this particular guy would experience deep freedom in a faith that says that life is about more than being a product, or that emphasizes sabbath keeping.(Jones became a Seventh Day Adventist. Seventh Day Adventists observe Saturday as a sabbath and abstain from secular work.) And I don’t even mean to psychologize the phenomenon—to suggest that the whole thing can be explained in terms of traumas or vulnerabilities in Jones himself. Rather, I’m trying, as someone who disagrees with Adventist theology, to meanwhile appreciate how compelling it nonetheless can be.

But a heartfelt religious conversion experience can also go hand-in-hand with poor professional judgment. Especially when you’re, like, 19? (I don’t know, maybe my motives are self-serving here, because in fact I myself had a profound religious experience when I was 18 and it led to my giving away a whole bunch of my possessions. Which in retrospect was… rash.) 

So I don’t know that it’s helpful to ask, “Was this a profound religious experience or a Sheen-esque meltdown?” It’s perfectly possible to have a profound religious experience, and then, a few months later, do a video sitdown in which you complain about your employer in really unprofessional ways. Finding God doesn’t magically impart a sense of what not to say if you don’t want to get your holy hiney fired.

[cleansing breath]

Now.

About this “I like black people” business. Oh good grief. Mr. Jones. My good sir. It’s fine to notice that you enjoy a type of worship you associate with African American churches. (In point of fact, there is actually not only one African American style of worship, but let’s bracket that.) But when you say, at around 1:20:

“I was looking to go to a church with an all-black congregation. I guess you could say I was looking for, like, a black gospel theme? I dunno. I like black people! And uh…[laughter] I’m not afraid to say it!… I mean no offense.” 

Oh, well as long as you don’t mean any offense, that makes it okay to say “I like black people” in an insultingly reductive and fatuous way. Black people of the world! Angus Jones LIKES you! He wants a church where there is a FULL SET of you, because he wants the COMPLETE BLACK PEOPLE CHURCH EXPERIENCE! My GOODNESS! Are you not FLATTERED?  

No no no. No more of that, please. Mr. Jones, you are not a college student, your dorm room is not your church, and “black people” are not the flokati rug from TJ Maxx that will really tie the room together. Jiminy Christmas. Please do better next time.

sarah.morice.brubaker@ptstulsa.edu'

Sarah Morice-Brubaker is an assistant professor of theology at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, OK. In addition to writing for RD, she’s also written for The Christian Century, Dialogic Magazine, and Faith and Leadership. She has a chapter in the forthcoming edited volume from Ashgate, Placing Nature on the Borders of Religion, Philosophy, and Ethics.