Celebrity feud of the day: Sean Penn vs. Wyclef Jean

sean-penn-wyclefImage Credit: Pixplanete/PR Photos; Daniel Locke/PR PhotosWho says politics and showbiz don’t mix? The celebrity feud between actor-activist Sean Penn and hip hop artist-turned-Haitian presidential candidate Wyclef Jean is getting more entertaining every day. The latest salvo: Penn’s blog in today’s Huffington Post. “I was there for those 6 months after the earthquake,” Penn wrote, “and so many of us on the ground wondered where [Jean] was when that kind of [media] attention was so necessary and absent, and why he was NOT helping to keep this desperate situation in the news.” (Marian Salzman — Jean’s publicist, who was also name-checked in Penn’s piece — gave the following response to EW: “There shouldn’t be a negative debate between Sean Penn and Wyclef Jean, who both obviously care deeply about the people of Haiti. There’s no reason they need to agree, but they certainly need to advance the dialogue about Haiti.”)

Earlier this month, you may recall, the former Fugees member announced on Larry King Live that he was running for president of Haiti, his homeland before moving to the U.S. at age nine. (It was a strange venue for the occasion, since not much of the electorate on that still-recovering island gets basic cable.) Afterwards, Penn was interviewed as a celebrity expert on the country, and he walked right up to the line of calling Jean an opportunistic and political lightweight. “I worry that this is more about a vision of flying around the world talking to people,” he scoffed. Jean responded on the Gayle King Show a few days later. “I would like to tell Sean Penn [that] I do not have to sacrifice my life and live inside a tent to prove that I am for the Haitian people.” Bam!

What makes Penn’s counter-attack today a bit curious is that it comes a week after the Haitian government declared Jean ineligible to run. (There’s a five-year residency requirement.) Jean has vowed to appeal that ruling, but that may be an empty threat, since Haiti’s judiciary apparently doesn’t allow for appeals. In any case, the whole thing does seem a bit rich. Jean may well be an opportunist trading his fame for political power — the guy refers to himself in the third person, for goodness sake, as in “His Excellency Wyclef Jean.” But of all people to criticize an entertainer for getting overly involved in politics — Sean Penn?

What do you think Popwatchers? Does Penn have a point?  Or is he one to talk?

Read more:
Sean Penn not a fan of Wyclef JEan’s bid for the Haitian presidency; Jean responds
Wyclef Jean cannot appeal Haiti electoral council ruling, says council lawyer
Wyclef Jean issues statement about Haiti presidency disqualification
Wyclef Jean to run for President of Haiti

Comments (19 total) Add your comment
  • GD

    Wait, is this fight about who’s douchier? Hmm, tough call.

    • lta

      Sean Penn, he has a longer history and has perfected the art of being a douch.

  • Adam

    “No fighting!”

  • Melissa

    “What do you think Popwatchers? Does Penn have a point? Or is he one to talk?” Does this have to be either or? From where I sit the answer is “both!”

  • djm

    I read an interesting article about Sean Penn working with the U.S. Army in Haiti and the work that was being done. Regardless of what he has done in the past decades, he earned the respect of the U.S. Army Generals he was working side by side with in Haiti after the earthquake. I think Sean Penn has a VERY valid point about Wyclef Jean running for President. It just comes across as very opportunistic and self serving.

  • ShotgunShogun

    They both suck.

    • Blarblarblar

      Funny, so does your mom.

  • Podman

    Sean Penn looks like a Jeff Dunham puppet.

  • Anna

    There’s always a place for those who wish to speak up against injustice and on behalf of the dispossessed. My biggest problem with Mr. Jean is that he seems to think the only way he can serve Haiti is as its’ President. I’m sure there are many, many ways in which he could have a positive impact on his homeland – perhaps he could better serve by exploring those possibilities.

    • Devin

      an intelligent response to the question? seriously gtfo, this is no place for those things. i’m just gonna leave on a “lois and clark are the best everything else sucks” note.

      well said though. he’d be wise to head your advice.

      • Anna

        Lois and Clark are awesome!

  • Spiek

    I’m on Team Penn, all the way. Sean Penn may come across as a mouthy SOB, but he has, since the earthquake, LIVED AND WORKED IN HAITI NEARLY EVERY DAY. His mouth might write a check but his @$$ can DEFINITELY cash it.

  • Mari

    Sean Penn is super annoying.

  • Snarf

    Team Penn. Jean wants to get into office to stroke his own ego, under the guise of “doing it for the people”. Shady.

    • Miss Talk

      Team No Interference. Haitians are wise enough to decide on whoever they want to run their country. Sean Penn should mind his business.

  • kristin

    Maybe Penn can get Hugo Chavez to be the next president of Hati

  • Samsara

    Sean Penn definitely comes across as a blow-hard – I don’t disagree there. But there was a great article in Vantiy Fair a month or two ago about Sean Penn and all of his efforts in Haiti. Whether you like him or not (and that’s not really the issue and I’m sure he could care less), he’s made a definite impact on the people of Haiti. The guy is determined. Wyclef needs to realize that you can probably get more done on the grassroots level than by being president. Besides, what kind of experience does he have? I think his love of country is misguided at best.

    • lisa

      I know this wouldn’t be common knowledge, but Jean has been an activist for Haiti for over a decade, way before the earthquake. I don’t fault Penn, he has no reason to know that, but he should check his facts and talk to the haitian people about Jean. I also have to commend Jean for not tooting his own horn in response to PEnn, because he most definitely has a horn to toot.

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