Sean Penn heads to Cuba: Hooray or yawn?

Sean-Penn_lControversy lightning-rod Sean Penn is at it again: The politically active actor has just arrived in Cuba with the hopes of interviewing Fidel Castro, according to a Cuban government-controlled television report. He will write a story for Vanity Fair, TMZ reports. Yet Penn’s rep says that reports of a Castro interview aren’t true, and he’s in Cuba for a “journalistic and creative” visit. This isn’t Penn’s first trip to Havana, and previously Penn interviewed Raúl Castro (and Hugo Chávez) in 2008.

Celebrities spend their social capital in all kinds of ways: vapid vanity projects, scandalous romantic choices, ostentatious consumption, bad behavior. Penn spends his on political projects, which ought to seem more worthy than a fleet of sports cars or a harem of fan girls, but instead it just seems equally indulgent. Which isn’t to say he shouldn’t do it — go nuts, Sean Penn! It’s that no matter the outcome or content of the could-be interview, we’ll only see it through the inescapable shadow cast by Penn’s celebrity.

What do you think, PopWatchers? Should Penn stick to acting, or can celebrity political activism be a good thing?

Photo credit: Reuters/Robert Galbraith/Landov

Comments (27 total) Add your comment
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  • bjing


  • Elizabeth

    Dear Sean:
    Can you take your little buddy Dennis! Kucinich with you… and lose him.

    Future Fans in Cleveland

  • Mike

    It would be interesting if Sean Penn asked Castro about Oscar Biscet, or any of the other political prisoners the Castro regime has kept jailed for years for daring to speak out about human rights abuses in Cuba. But no, Sean Penn will continue his habit of cozying up to dictators.

    In other news, dog bites man.

  • Ed

    What a ridiculous article. He’s free to do as he wants. A human being is not and should not be defined or limited by his or her career. Maybe you should find something more to do than celebrity bashing.

    • Bill

      he is a public figure, if he did not want the attention then he should have left acting 20 years ago. He is going to draw attention to himself and to give credibility to a brutal dictator and murderer.

  • Bill

    I hope he is going there to scold castro for not caring about the people of cuba. To beg him to embrace freedom for his people. Maybe then they can get the aide they need to set up decent medical centers.

  • Chappel

    Dictators will always have groupies like Sean Penn to service their egos.

  • taz

    Hey, if that’s what he enjoys doing on his down time, who are we to judge?

    • Bill

      Sean gave up his right to privacy when he became a pubic figure. And you have to know that he is doing this SO we will talk about him. His love for brutal dictators and murderers is well known. So give it a rest.

  • Guy Thompto

    So nice! How many thousands of political foes has Castro killed? I guess as long as you believe, it doesn’t matter.

  • markux

    So why is it when someone does something out of the rules and marching order of the conservative, it is controversial. It’s a shame that what this government has done to the people Cuba. There is no rule of law. Might is right. Shame on the rest of us.

    • Jacob

      What has this government done to Cuba that is so shameful?

  • Hork

    There’s a fine line between raising awareness and political activism. For issues that most people might not even be aware of, a celebrity can use their fame to shine a light and be effective. But for issues that everyone already has an opinion on, celebrity activists only do more harm than good.

    Not knowing what Penn’s purpose is in this venture, it’s hard to say which side this falls on, but knowing Penn, it’s more likely the latter than the former.

  • juju

    hope he stays there and learns a real life lesson.
    like communism is the devil’s work.

  • Mike

    You know – my father lost his dad to the Soviets right after WWII. Only he wasn’t shot or hung – it was worse. The Russians came in and gave my grandmother and grandfather 24 hours to pack what they needed for there relocation onto something called a “Barragan”. She wanted to take the china, silver, etc…and he stopped her – he said: “pack a frying pan, a couple big rugs and some basic necessities” She didn’t understand that they were part of Stalins “redistribution” plan. In the end, my grandfather died of a stroke in the middle of a field in Siberia under a rug he hug up on four poles as a shelter.
    I wish Sean Penn could have witnessed that!

  • anne

    Sean Penn is a buffoon who uses his celebrity to foster his communist ideas. Maybe he should live amoung the people of his demigods. I’m sure Chavez would love to use him up .

  • cusegirl

    Listen Sean can do whatever he wants but this whole lets interview dictators who have shown blatant disregard of human rights. I am not sure you can call this a liberal agenda as I am a die hard lib and a dictator is a dictator, pure and simple and most famous dictators shower outright abuse of the people they were suppose to govern. Frankly Sean you are a puzzlement and I usually love your performances so this isn’t about your acting.

  • wunder

    It’s hilarious. As a citizen of the US, Penn can go to countries like Cuba and Venezuela to interview dictators. That’s fantastic and I would never argue that he shouldn’t be allowed.

    But the irony of it all astounds me.

    Nevermind that Penn wouldn’t have been allowed to make MILK in Cuba (or Venezuela). If he had managed somehow, though, he and the rest of the makers would be in prison (or dead) now.

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