Thursday, June 16, 2005

Sean Penn

Some of you may know that Sean Penn is in Iran for the San Francisco Chronicle, a sort of parallel to his trip he made to Iraq a couple of years ago. I don't know what most of you guys think of Sean Penn...his politics, his acting, whatever. I've read the Richard T. Kelly book that basically takes a whole bunch of audio-taped interviews and lets people who know him (and of course Penn himself) paint the picture of him...I have huge respect for Sean Penn. That, and I can still laugh at the Team America stuff.

But I think Penn is very misunderstood because we know him through beating up photographers and marrying Madonna and being very intense. I still think the comments he made to Chris Rock during the Oscars when Rock ripped on Jude Law were ridiculous ("With respect to our host...Jude Law is one of the finest actors working today...") But, what I took out of the book is that this guy is always on the effort to change--trying to get comfortable in everything he does. It'll probably never happen, but he tries.

And I have even more respect now that I've read this article. I am immensely grateful for his comment to Iranian students, after chants of "Death to America," that they are hurting their cause. Penn, of course, does not believe in these wars and the talk of attacking Iran--he knows where these comments come from, but he's ever trying to make a difference with education and ideas. I admire that.


At 6/16/2005 03:09:00 PM, Blogger Kennelworthy said...

I don't have a problem with Sean Penn using his celebrity to try and heal cultural wounds between us and the Middle East. I can even sort of admire that.

But I do have a problem with the way he spoke out against the war on terrorism as though he's some sort of expert (part of the reason he gets lampooned in Team America).

But my feelings aren't directed at him alone. Lots of actors decided they were political pundits at that time (I have vivid recollections of Susan Sarandon on CNN...that still makes me cringe).

I agree that his violent run-ins and beat downs have given him a bad reputation, but he does have only himself to blame there. We all deal with consequences of our actions. Some are just longer-lasting than others.

I have no doubt he is sincere in his effort to help bring about change. I do admire that. I do think he tries to better himself too. I just don't think he does a great job of it.

He rips Bush and Republicans and the war on terror a lot a few years back. And then, when Team America comes out, he throws a toddler's temper tantrum over it, closing a letter to the filmmakers, "F*** You!"

This is the same guy who once said, regarding critics of his activism, "My accusers are against everything I believe in, so, as in a schoolyard, if the bully calls you a prick you get a little bit happier."

Strange that he seems to say he gets happy when people rip him, but then when it actually happens, he blows his stack.

I don't know. I'm not saying I have any more right than him to state my beliefs. He has a right as we all do. But I wish he'd just live them and not use his fame to get a huge audience so he can say things like F*** you.

That's just me. He's got a right to his opinions, and none of my opinions about him are based on the fact that he and I tend to disagree politically. But I just see more evidence of the silly-Oscar-Jude-Law-defending Penn than of a thoughtful, insightful, positive force for change.

At 6/16/2005 03:38:00 PM, Blogger Chris said...

Yeah, I wrote that knowing that there are times when Penn is a contradictory entity. I don't think even he knows what is truly right for himself sometimes. He has a liberal-eyed view according to politics but a right-winging attitude towards force when it comes raining down on him personally.

But basically, I enjoyed the talk about the "Death to America" chants being counterproductive. You don't see too many people actually bringing that to light.

At 6/16/2005 03:41:00 PM, Blogger Kennelworthy said...

Yeah, I agree. I think that part of it is very cool.


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