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Sean Penn's Political Painting
May 25, 2004

By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to

Sean Penn recently pirouetted across the Atlantic to attend the Cannes Film Festival. He was there to promote "The Assassination of Richard Nixon," a film based on a quirky but true tale of a furniture salesman who had planned to kill the former president by flying an aircraft into the White House.

Evidently, Penn is of the opinion that Hollywood isn't making as many politically charged movies as it should be these days. In his latest bit of dude musing, the actor said, "I don't think there is any art that doesn't respond to the times and I don't think there's enough political films here or anywhere."

Catching a philosophical wave in his head, he said, "The politics, as we understand politics to be, are so present in our lives right now that any painting that doesn't reflect it in some ways is dismissible to me."

Penn must have mentally surfed into another galaxy. In addition to Michael Moore's Palme d'Or award-winning "Fahrenheit 9/11," Tinseltown has the following politically laced flicks in the hopper:

  • "The Motorcycle Diaries," a piece produced by Robert Redford, which is based on the journals of communist revolutionary Che Guevara;

  • "Heir to an Execution," a documentary about Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, which is directed by their granddaughter and "reflects on their lives, principles, and ultimate sacrifice";

  • "September Tapes," a work that tells the story of an American journalist who travels to Afghanistan one year after 9/11 in order to learn the so-called truth about the search for Osama bin Laden;

  • "Neverland," a flick for the whole family to enjoy about the rise and fall of the Symbionese Liberation Army;

  • "Silver City," a movie that curiously features a "grammatically challenged" born-again Christian politician who is part of a Republican dynasty;

  • "Farmingville," a tale about xenophobia in suburbia where, as the Hollywood Reporter put it, the "undercurrent of fear, hostility, and paranoia brewing in the country comes home to roost";

  • "Tour of Duty," a film that beats the hero worship drum for John Kerry;

  • "Super Size Me," a documentary that attempts to pin America's obesity problem on McDonald's;

  • "The Yes Men," an expose that spotlights greedy corporate execs without mentioning greedy U.N. officials;

  • "The Hunting of the President," a revisionist film from Bubba's buddy Harry Thomason, which seemingly is meant to inflate the Clinton legacy balloon;

  • "Bush's Brain" a two-for-one skewering of Dubya and campaign guru Karl Rove;

  • "The Day After Tomorrow," a movie that shows global warming destroying everything, while Bush administration look-alikes ignore warn ings and let wholesale suffering take its course.

As you can see, Hollywood's really on agenda overdrive. Guess that means Penn can finger paint to his heart's content.

Reproduced with the permission of . All rights reserved

Copyright © 2004
James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

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