comScore Sean Penn's New Book Should Never Have Been Published | The Mary Sue
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Congratulations to Sean Penn, the New Poet Laureate to Misogynistic Sh*t Bags Everywhere

sean penn book poem gross

So many people have a book living inside of them that for so many reasons–time, insecurities, whatever other excuses we all rest on–they never write. I have my own book sitting, latent inside of me. I encourage everyone to put their heart and mind to paper and put their thoughts out into the world.

Or at least I did. And then I read some of Sean Penn’s new book and I realized that nothing, not even emotional support and creative encouragement, needs to be doled out as “universal.”

Sean Penn has been doing the self-promotion talk show rounds lately, smoking cigarettes on Colbert (SO EDGY! WOW!) and just generally smugging up your TV. This isn’t because he has an acting project in the works. In fact, he says he’s retired from acting. Instead, he’s promoting his work as a novelist. His debut novel is Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff (cool title, bro), and wouldn’t you know, it’s about a guy who’s tired of soceity and social media and women and just wants to kill people. Such an original subject from a post-middle-aged white dude in the public eye.

Here’s the synopsis, via Amazon:

Bob Honey has a hard time connecting with other people, especially since his divorce. He’s tired of being marketed to every moment, sick of a world where even an orgasm isn’t real until it is turned into a tweet. A paragon of old-fashioned American entrepreneurship, Bob sells septic tanks to Jehovah’s Witnesses and arranges pyrotechnic displays for foreign dictators. He’s also a contract killer for an off-the-books program run by a branch of US intelligence that targets the elderly, the infirm, and others who drain this consumption-driven society of its resources.

The book has been read and covered by other outlets, and I am forever grateful for their sacrifice because it means I don’t actually have to read what appears to be excruciatingly pretentious drivel.

Here are just a few excerpts (via HuffPo):

  • “Hence, his life remains incessantly infused with her identity-infidelity, and her abhorrent ascensions to those constant salacious sessions of sexual solitaire she’d seen as self-regard.” ― page 11
  • “Behind decorative gabion walls, an elderly neighbor sits centurion on his porch watching Bob with surreptitious soupçon.” ― page 71
  • “While the privileged patronize this pickle as epithet to the epigenetic inequality of equals, Bob smells a cyber-assisted assault emboldened by right-brain Hollywood narcissists.” ― page 99
  • “There is pride to be had where the prejudicial is practiced with precision in the trenchant triage of tactile terminations.” ― page 125
  • “His dream’s desert daylight diffusion dictated disturbances in the void of visual detail.” ― page 142

Oh my god, Sean Penn loves alliteration as much as he loves everything about himself.

But the absolute worst part of this novel is what HuffPost says is a “six-page epilogue poem” on the folly of the #MeToo movement.

Brace yourselves.

Though warrior women
Bravely walk the walk,
Derivatives of disproportion
Draw heinous hypocrites
To their flock.
[….]
Where did all the laughs go?
Are you out there, Louis C.K.?
Once crucial conversations
Kept us on our toes;
Was it really in our interest
To trample Charlie Rose?
And what’s with this ‘Me Too’?
This infantilizing term of the day…
Is this a toddler’s crusade?
Reducing rape, slut-shaming, and suffrage to reckless child’s play?
A platform for accusation impunity?
Due process has lost its sheen?
But, fuck it, what me worry?
I’m a hero,
To Time Magazine!

When reached for comment on that specific collection of words, the entirety of The Mary Sue responded:

Wow, where to start? Maybe with the fact that no “warrior woman” wants the praise of a man who then criticizes every one of their specific choices. Or that the questions of where Louis C.K.’s “laughs” went should maybe be directed to the women he forced to watch him masturbate, rather than to him directly. And maybe the general query of whether the callout of Charlie Rose was in “our interest” should clarify who’s included in that “our.” Is it the women harassed by Charlie Rose? Then yeah, probably! Does “our” = Sean Penn? It shouldn’t.

As for who Time magazine considers a “hero,” Sean Penn is no silence-breaker. It doesn’t take a drop of courage to belittle women who have spoken out publically about abuse. That’s not heroic.

The rest of the world doesn’t see you as this hero. Certainly not for disparaging and demeaning those speaking out against the men abusing their power in your industry. Should we maybe address the accusations of abuse and assault made against you yourself? Yeah, probably. And if you’re going to commit yourself to using a glib, clumsily rhyming poem to criticize those who speak out against abuses of power within your industry, then one would probably expect for your past to be dug up and presented publically alongside the rest, right?

Women don’t need random men to criticize them when they finally find the strength to speak out about their abuse. They definitely don’t need to hear from men who have allegedly attacked their wives, who have been accused of “ongoing, continuous violence against women.”

So the next time Sean Penn feels the urge to publish a poem about how awful women are and how they’re ruining men’s lives, we would like to offer our humble advice: don’t. Neither the content nor the quality of writing is worth putting his words out into the world.

(image: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)

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