Citizen Penn

about a week behind on my New Yorker reading and so was pleasantly surprised this week to find last week’s issue had a
rather informative and interesting profile by John Lahr on Sean Penn. Now, I’m no celebrity worshipper. I honestly,
deeply believe that our fascination with celebrity is both absurd and harmful. Absurd because we are placing such lofty
value in people’s whose compensation (in the form of money and status) is completely incommensurate with their
societal contribution. Harmful in the respect that we are largely distracted from more meaningful aspects of the human
experience by spending so much time and caloric output on worrying what Brad and Angelina are up to.

with that as a rather ridiculous, if contradictory, preface for this post, let me say that I did find the article on Sean Penn rather interesting. Penn, you might
remember has been traveling the world…or at least certain dangerous parts of it…to show us the other
of these places, the happy faces of the Axis of Evil, and it certianly is nice for him to have himself
photographed walking among the people. He penned, if you’ll pardon the pun, a series of articles, some 12,000
words total, for the San Francisco Chronicle, some of which we discussed here.
Now, despite my cynicism, there is value here, because Penn holds himself out as a kind of citizen of the world, a
purveyor of higher truths, and he is one of a few celebrities who really tries of leverage his status to heighten
public awareness of issues that lie outside of Hollywood. Now whether that is a good or bad thing is another issue.
Whether we should in any way trust that Penn possesses the smarts or experience to be the one who alerts us to the
world’s ills is a fine question to ponder. So you just go ahead and do so. But I think you will find the article here
pretty fascinating, as Penn comes across as a rather complex character. I can’t positively say I like him, but he
intrigues me.