To me actor Sean Penn will always be Jeff Spicoli, the stoner character he brilliantly played in that classic 80’s film, Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Don’t get me wrong, Penn has gone on to do brilliant work in dozens of other films since then, but the Spicoli character, to me at least, personifies him the best. Every time he opens his mouth without a script in front of him is like watching one of his hilarious scenes from Fast Times. At any moment, I expect him to slip off one of his checkerboard sneakers and bang his head with it. So when you hear Penn talk politics, you have to keep in mind that what you are really watching is Jeff Spicoli talking politics. He is just as clueless as Spicoli, and apparently, just as stoned.
In a recent interview Penn was asked about the criticism he received when he wrote those fawning articles about Hugo Chavez and Raul Castro for Nation magazine. His Spicoliesque response was truly classic.
MB: I know you don’t want to talk about politics, but I’m sure you saw the recent columns attacking your…
SP: No, I didn’t. I’m pretty out of the loop.
MB: The gist was, they praised you as an actor but said you’re a naive journalist.
SP: Well, I think that they’re professionally naive journalists. I have no regard for 90 per cent of American journalism. That’s why I travel and look for things for myself. If you’re going to get on Cuba for its lack of free press, well, we don’t have any press, as far as I’m concerned. We supposedly have the right to it. But we don’t fulfil it. I’m flattered by their disparaging remarks. And with the television guys, a lot of it’s based on actor envy. They’re all a bunch of failed actors. Bill O’Reilly wanted to be an actor more than anything. So they have to diminish it. I’ve heard plenty of actors say: ‘I don’t like it when actors get political.’ They’re just trying to appease these people.
So what Jeff… I mean Sean, would like us all to believe is that the press in the US is just as repressed as it is in Cuba. I find that funny because I have yet to hear of the US government rounding up dissident journalists and sentencing them to long prison sentences. But that does not stop Penn from drawing such a comparison. He apparently views the US, and the world, through the lens of a smoky bong.
The comedy, however, does not stop there. When the interviewer suggests that actors do not speak out about politics out of fear of getting boycotted, Penn provides yet another pearl of wisdom.
MB: Maybe they don’t want to get boycotted.
SP: Or laughed at. People are more afraid of being laughed at than boycotted. It’s a really cowardly position to take.
His answer brings me back to the original point of this post. Although through the use of his twisted logic Penn sees the label of laughing stock as something to be proud of, he basically gets it right: He is nothing more than someone to laugh at.
It is truly a waste of time to get upset about whatever idiocy comes out of Sean Jeff Penn Spicoli’s mouth because one has to consider the source. So the next time you come across one of his moronic quotes, just add this line to the end of it: “Dude! I’m so wasted!”
Once viewed in the proper context, Sean Penn continues to provide us with plenty of comedic moments.