October 09, 2004

Why Sean Penn Is A Prick

I mean, besides the giant ego. Personally, I think the ego tends to make him overract a bit. That's right, I said it--he overracts. And it's not a politically motivated statement because I disagree with Tim Robbins' political views just as much, but I have no problem telling you that Robbins acted circles around Penn in Mystic River, and--unlike Penn--actually deserved the Academy Award.

But enough of that for now. What really pisses me off is that Penn just wrote an open memo to Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creators of "South Park" and the upcoming Team America. Like most of Penn's writing, it's filled with some awkward constructions and sounds like some of the student writing I get when the student seems particularly interested in impressing me.

I do mind when anybody who doesn't have a child, doesn't have a child at war, or isn't or won't be in harm's way themselves, is encouraging that there's "no shame in not voting" "if you don't know what you're talking about" (Mr. Stone) without mentioning the shame of not knowing what your talking about, and encouraging people to know.


Grammatical issues aside, the memo is tactless and unnecessarily vicious. He begins by (I guess) implying that Parker and Stone somehow used his name to achieve their success.

I remember not being bothered as you traded on my name among others to appear witty, above it all, and likeable to your crowd.

I remember them making fun of a lot of people on "South Park," and maybe Penn was one of them, but I honestly don't remember it. But so what if they did? I mean, is it that wrong to trade on the Penn name, son of famous director Leo Penn (and actress Eileen Ryan)? At least Emilio Estevez had enough class not to use the name Sheen. And Nicholas Cage didn't need to use Coppola, either. You see, despite that "bad boy" image that seems to follow Penn around, he didn't really have to struggle that much. Growing up in a show-business family in southern California? Jeez, it must have been tough to break into the business.

Now, let's go back to this winner:

I do mind when anybody who doesn't have a child, doesn't have a child at war, or isn't or won't be in harm's way themselves, is encouraging that there's "no shame in not voting" "if you don't know what you're talking about" (Mr. Stone) without mentioning the shame of not knowing what your talking about, and encouraging people to know. You guys are talented young guys but alas, primarily young guys. It's all well to joke about me or whomever you choose. Not so well, to encourage irresponsibility that will ultimately lead to the disembowelment, mutilation, exploitation, and death of innocent people throughout the world. The vote matters to them. No one's ignorance, including a couple of hip cross-dressers, is an excuse.

I'm not sure what Penn's point is here. Is he claiming that people who have children (like his--11 and 13, I believe) are in the same group as those who currently have a child at war? And that if you don't, your opinion doesn't matter? Well, that just seems stupid. Is he upset that the South Park guys say that there's no shame in not voting if you're uninformed without stressing that they should be informed? That sounds great, but doesn't seem to go with the next bit, which claims that not voting will "ultimately lead to the disembowelment, mutilation, exploitations, and death of innocent people throughout the world." This assumes--and stop me if I'm wrong--that these uncast votes would be cast for the candidate of Mr. Penn's choice. We all know that Penn is a Bush hater. Is he really arguing that it's the vote that counts and not who you vote for? If so, then his argument makes no sense. He seems to be arguing that if we just get enough votes, irrespective of for whom they were cast, we will prevent bloodshed. No, he's trying to sound objective, but he's really saying "vote for my guy." Or maybe he's just so egotistical that it doesn't occur to him that some of those newly informed voters could possibly vote for the other guy.

And while I might agree with Penn that the vote matters to those innocent people around the world he alleges will be disemboweled, etc., I also have to say that it's none of their fucking business, nor is it yours, Mr. Penn, for which candidate I cast my vote. You see, that's the one place in this country where the lowly man on the street has the same exact amount of power as self-important assholes like yourself. We all get one, and only one vote. It's my vote, and if I decide to vote for either major candidate, cast a write-in vote for myself, or take the vote and piss it away completely...Well, that's my decision, Mr. Penn, not yours.

So, a sincere "fuck you" to you too, Mr. Penn, the man who has somehow found the moral high ground to criticize two young satirists, who--by the way--have done much more to educate the young people in this country than you have. The work that they produce may be irreverent and push the envelope, but it's also timely and thought-provoking. But maybe that's not fair. After all, in your career, you've been such an inspiration to young people. In Fast Times at Ridgemont High, you played an apathetic pot smoker. In Bad Boys, you played a...well, a bad boy. Oh, and then in The Falcon and The Snowman, you got to play Daulton Lee, a traitor to the U.S. (And they say life doesn't imitate art.) Of course, there was Casualties of War, where you got to play a psychopathic sergeant in the My Lai mold--that must have been inspiring for young people. And let's not forget the times you played a psychopathic cokehead lawyer (Carlito's Way); an unrepentant death row inmate (Dead Man Walking); or a paranoid crime-boss (Mystic River). Yeah, you're the fucking paragon of virtue. Maybe before you criticize others about the influence they exert, you ought to climb down off your soapbox and check out a mirror, jack.

In a P.S., Penn offers to take Parker and Stone, and Dennis Miller(?) to Iraq. If Mr. Penn really wants to come off as a tough guy, he'll make sure to let all the Iraqi press know before he goes over that his father was Jewish because we all know in what high esteem Jewish-Americans are held by some of the locals. Just ask Daniel Pearl's family.


  1. excellent fucking post.

  2. that was great! i agree, robbins had amazing subtly (sp?) in mystic river. penn was overrated.

    anyway, that's it. you're on my blogroll.

  3. Well said...But you gotta love the movie Bad Boys. O'Brien, Viking, Tweety, Horowitz, Paco Moreno. The fight with the pillowcase full of soda cans.

  4. The vitriol you posted with was phenomenal, good for you. Penn's been an annoying little prick since Fast Times. And of course he wants the WMD search put to rest, the purveyor of the biggest bomb in history {Shanghi Surprise} doesn't want his kids to find out how many innocent lives were lost there. Penn should do what he does best, play a diminished capacity fellow and shut the fuck up.

  5. Ari--

    Yeah, every once in a while I'll read something, or see it on the TV, and I'll just sit there, saying "Are you kidding me?" because I can't believe that someone would have the chutzpah to do such a thing. This was one of those times. Unlike others I mentioned who commit to their causes, speak, and occasionally get arrested(Tim Robbins and Martin Sheen, for example), you rarely hear from Penn until he's got something nasty to say. Taking a trip to Iraq doesn't make you an expert on foreign policy anymore than going once a week to the Tokyo House restaurant makes you a sushi chef.

  6. And don't forget how tightly the Iraqis monitored Penn's movements when he went over there, making damn sure what he could and couldn't see -- much like the KGB did with prominent Americans visiting the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

    If Penn doesn't realize what a total tool Saddam made out of him, he's an even bigger idiot than I thought.