Search Box

Monday, January 11, 2016

Sean Penn's visit to El Chapo is reflective of his Leftism

Sean Penn and Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman: the two macho hombres finally meet. (Guzman is reportedly responsible for the deaths of over ten thousand people. Penn beat up Madonna once, and has also roughed up a paparazzi.)

There's been a lot of ink spilled in the past two days over Sean Penn's interview of the fugitive el Chapo. An excerpt from the New York Post article about Penn's visit:

Hollywood blowhard Sean Penn secretly met, interviewed, and posed for grip-and-smirk selfies with murderous druglord Joaquin Guzman Loera — even as the world’s most-wanted fugitive continued to elude authorities in the months after running out of a Mexican prison….to gain access to the kingpin’s secret jungle hideout, Penn agreed that Guzman would have the final edit of the resulting story….[which] shows the killer kingpin — described variously as “serene,” and “a simple man in a simple place,” and “a businessman first” — in an almost worshipful light.

In breathless, first-person prose, Penn marvels over El Chapo’s humble, hardscrabble childhood spent harvesting in the drug fields of Sinaloa state.

Scant mention is made of the river of blood in El Chapo’s wake, and none at all of his alleged assassinations of Mexican officials and police. Guzman is credited with responsibility for tens of thousands of deaths of rivals, informants and officials in Mexico and the US, his biggest market.

“While I was surfing the waves of Malibu at age 9, he was already working in the marijuana and poppy fields of the remote mountains of Sinaloa….Today he runs the biggest international drug cartel the world has ever known, exceeding even that of Pablo Escobar,” Penn says.

If you read the Rolling Stone article itself, you'll see that Penn goes heavy on the moral equivalency:

...are we, the American public, not indeed complicit in what we demonize? We are the consumers, and as such, we are complicit in every murder, and in every corruption of an institution's ability to protect the quality of life for citizens of Mexico and the United States that comes as a result of our insatiable appetite for illicit narcotics.

As much as anything, it's a question of relative morality. What of the tens of thousands of sick and suffering chemically addicted Americans, barbarically imprisoned for the crime of their illness? Locked down in facilities where unspeakable acts of dehumanization and violence are inescapable, and murder a looming threat. Are we saying that what's systemic in our culture, and out of our direct hands and view, shares no moral equivalency to those abominations that may rival narco assassinations in Juarez? Or, is that a distinction for the passive self-righteous?

Okay, it's true that American consumers bear partial blame for the drug trade. But taking an illegal drug and murdering thousands of people to expand your illegal empire are hardly comparable. The US doesn't put people in jail for being "sick," but for possession of illegal drugs. And the "unspeakable acts of…violence" are almost always perpetrated by other inmates -- not by the "American public." These are not "a question of relative morality."

Penn has shown similar reverence for both Hugo Chavez and the Castro brothers in the past, managing to completely ignore all of the less admirable parts of their reigns. Both Chavez and the Castros threw political opponents in jail, squashed free elections, aided and abetted drug dealers, and enriched themselves at public expense. They were, in other words, unsavory dictators.

But Penn manages to overlook all of these faults because of their nominal leftism. And that is essentially what the Left is all about these days: political correctness, i.e., ignoring the obvious.

I understand the appeal of an outlaw who thumbs his nose at the law, accumulates over a billion dollars, and lives like royalty. I even wrote about it here and here, though I never tried to justify El Chapo's crimes.

The real giveaway to Penn's attitudes is his self-importance, which has only been exacerbated in recent years by his steroid use. ('Roid ego seems as real as 'roid rage.) Meeting mano a mano with El Chapo under top secret conditions seems to make Penn feel that he's burnishing his badass credentials. (He's not quite that badass, though: that fawning portrait ensured he would stay in El Chapo's good graces.)

Note the picture above: the actor is trying to look scruffy and tough. Meanwhile El Chapo, as befits an actual tough guy, makes no attempt to look tough, merely clean and presentable.

Willful blindness and political posturing infused with personal narcissism point in one direction: to the left. 


Anonymous said...

How can I take out a life insurance policy on Mr Penn?

John Craig said...

Anon --
Ha! Wouldn't be worth it, I'm afraid, only the good die young. (If you're old enough to remember that song lyric.)

Anonymous said...

When Charlize Theron was dating Sean Penn, I was hoping that the relationship would expire ASAP. He strikes me as moody, unstable, someone to avoid. I was glad when that relationship fizzled out.


John Craig said...

Birdie --
Yes, not to mention that that was a beauty and the beast situation to boot.

Lady Bug, Former and Future Panther said...

Sean Penn is truly contemptible. I can see him as an ugly old man now, wizened, spouting insane rants....if he grows that old. Drugs kill, and he's a druggie. Well, they aren't always bad! Hope he croaks, and soon.

John Craig said...

Lady Bug --
Uh…..isn't he already ugly and old and wizened?

whorefinder said...

Penn's hilarious at this point. He's starred in a string of over-the-top tough guy performances that have made him a mild joke. He's clearly compensating at ths point for what he perceives is a lack of toughness on his part.

He reminds me of Oliver Stone, in that both men are rabid leftists who are constantly self-consciously trying to show that leftist men aren't weak, sniveling cowards (i.e. rabbits). Hence why both desperately try to status seek with both overtly-macho speech and actions---

Hence why Stone makes sure almost every report about his actions on the set describe him as an "alpha male"; makes a lot movies about over-the-top hyper-masculine-acheiving men (Wall Street, Any Given Sunday, Savages, and heck, even W.); he constantly mentions being a Vietnam veteran in interviews; and he went on a worshipful-documentary tour of "tough guy" Latin American dictators, celebrating them (especially Fidel Castro) as great men.

Similarly, Penn (as you noted) is trying to look tough in all his photographs; tries to hang out with this actually tough guy (good call on the difference between actual tough guys and fake LARPers like Penn---I'm reminded of pictures of Al Capone and Meyer Lansky--dressed well, nice to their mothers, etc.); goes for roles that make him "look tough" these days (LA Gangster role, travel photographer in that Ben Stiller joke of a movie, etc); and finally starts inserting himself into humanitarian relief efforts (Katrina, Hati) like some white superman there to save the darkies.

And yet both end up fawning over and kissing the feet of actual tough guys (Stone's documentary and Penn's writings are disgustingly beta-apologizing-feet-kissing).

Steve Sailer has commented how Stone always seems to be searching for a father figure, both in his films and in real life. Penn seems to be doing the same. Both are desperate to actually be tough guys and be seen as such, but, not having had good fathers, are only cosplaying at it.

John Craig said...

Whorefinder --
Stone as a Viet Nam vet -- and member of the infantry -- has a far more legitimate claim to machismo than Penn does. Yes, Stone makes an effort in that direction, but it also seems to just be him being himself. With Penn, it strikes me as more of a pose. Penn seems to be suffering from movie star disease, where the actor mistakes himself for the heroic role he is playing. I wrote about that phenomenon here:

(This seems to be a disease to which stars on steroids are more susceptible.)

Just looked at the Wiki bios of both men. Stone's father was evidently a big influence in his life (his mother was somewhat absent). Penn's father was a Hollywood director and a committed leftist himself, so Penn was a red diaper baby. But that doesn't mean his father was bad as a father. Where did you hear that?

Samuel Nock said...

John, don't you understand? Sean had to trek through a dangerous jungle, probably on an off-road vehicle with a machete in one hand just to reach this momentous destination. It was a parlous journey that only someone as tough as he could handle and come out unscathed. I don't think you're the only one who doesn't understand that, and that's why Penn had to signal it through his tussled hair, five-o-clock shadow and tough guy look in the picture with the capo. :)

John Craig said...

Samuel --

It's actually sort of funny to watch Penn play at being a secret agent, what with his disposable burner phone etc. He really seems to be confusing himself with one of the characters he plays.

Steven said...

'Willful blindness and political posturing infused with personal narcissism point in one direction: to the left.'


Quartermain said...

I should have known better but I checked "All The King's Men" and the movie was okay except for Sean Penn. He chewed up scenery and he wasn't a ham actor so much as a spam actor. He didn't play Willie Stark but Really Stark raving mad. He sounded like a bad impression of a Southern preacher stereotype. He didn't sound like a man who could stir the passions of the people but someone, that some good ol' boy would beat up for making fun of preachers. I can't take him seriously at all.

John Craig said...

Allan --
Haven't seen that movie, but have seen Penn in plenty of others. I'm actually torn on him as an actor; yes, there are plenty of movies where he just overacts and tries to steal every scene shamelessly. But there are times when he's actually great, too. As an example: Carlito's Way. He played that Jewish lawyer to perfection, I was awed by his performance there. And, of course, he was quite good in (the slightly overrated) "Fast Times at Ridgemont High."

But I agree that when he's bad he's really bad.

Lady Bug, Fat Ass said...

"Uh…..isn't he already ugly and old and wizened?"
The face is a wreck, but the body is still good. Maybe it's steroids but his arms are well-muscled. An old fart will have wasted muscles, skin hanging like chicken wattles.

I have to say that I always thought he was a terrific actor, although I'm not the movie-goer you are and haven't seen him in a lot. He was great in The Thin Red Line, as I remember, although I didn't much like the movie itself.

It's his presumptuousness and arrogance that bother me. Remember what he said about Iran? What a dork.

John Craig said...

Lady Bug --
(I think I prefer "Former and Future Panther." Keep that self-image up.)

True enough, about his body; and it is steroids, no question.

Agreed about his personality. I remember when he went to Iraq to meet with that guy (drawing a blank on his name) who turned out to be a war criminal, and basically gave him a pass.

Anonymous said...

Too bad El Chapo got caught by law enforcement. I guess Mr. Penn should go visit the badass while he's in prison. I wonder how that conversation would go.

- Susan

John Craig said...

Susan --
Especially now that Mexican authorities are saying that they followed Penn to El Chapo's hideout.