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Cool or Lame: Sean Penn Reports from Iran
Time for another edition of Cool or Lame:
We all remember Sean Penn's Iraq Adventure, his effort to play a "low-key" visit to Iraq just before the war to give us an up-close-and-personal view of Iraqis and why we shouldn't attack them. How did you feel about that? I have mixed feelings. I personally find most celebrity activism rather abhorrent (Bono not withstanding…Bono's work with debt relief in Africa is highly admirable). There is something about these stars taking on pet projects to save the world, something about their self-righteousness, that rubs me wrong.
Having lived in LA for most of my life, I know the culture of the place and where much of this activism comes from. It tends to be rather weak and suspect, the result of a millionaire working in a shallow business having a prick of conscience and deciding to use his special powers for the good of mankind. Of course, the issues and problems these folks raise SHOULD be publicized. Of course we should be AWARE and INVOLVED. And perhaps in our celebrity obsessed culture this is a bona-fide way to deliver an important message about world affairs. But to me, having a mega-star like Brad Pitt wander through a village in Africa to show off his mid-career concern just seems kind of lame.
And so here we are once again with Sean Penn. Penn is on assignment in Iran with the San Francisco Chronicle, writing about the country and the Iranian elections. No question the Iranian elections seem rigged, or at least severely lacking by true standards of democracy. And the fact that Penn landed an interview with Muslim cleric Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani is impressive. But there is something about Penn assuming the role of serious reporter that bothers me. When these articles come out, we can judge them on their merits, but I'd have to say I'd rather see these issues taken on by real reporters who have professional experience dissecting and understanding them than some celeb who gets mad when he reads the paper.
Am I off base? Cool or lame?