Sean Penn wrote about Sean Penn for Esquire. As celebrity interview/articles go, this one isn’t a puff piece. There is some insight. There is a lot of honesty, and it goes hand in hand with a lot of self-congratulation, but at least it’s not boring. He comes from a generation of actors -- let’s call it, arbitrarily, the Class of ’81: the Sean Penns, the Tom Cruises -- who are not boring, and certainly so much more interesting than the Ashley Greenes and the Chace Crawfords being trotted out one after another. And complicated. SO complicated.
On the one hand, his work in Haiti is admirable. The “trauma” narrative he speaks of is compelling. The way he relates it to his son’s head injury and how that was the genesis of his involvement in Haiti is compelling. His application of trauma to the course of his career is especially compelling in that it reveals his process -- here is a man who somehow seeks ...pain. Like everywhere. As validation? I wonder if Sean Penn isn’t happy until he finds something to be UNhappy about.
Which brings us to love. According to Sean Penn, he is a victim of love:
“There is no shame in my saying that we all want to be loved by someone. As I look back over my life in romance, I don't feel I've ever had that. I have been the only one that was unaware of the fraud in a few of these circumstances blindly. When you get divorced, all the truths that come out, you sit there and you go, What the fuck was I doing? What was I doing believing that this person was invested in this way? Which is a fantastically strong humiliation in the best sense. It can make somebody very bitter and very hard and closed off, but I find it does the opposite to me.”
He is presumably referring to Robin Wright. And if you take him at his word, he was deceived into believing that she truly loved him, that she was fully engaged in their relationship. Evidently, according to his version of events, he was there, he was in it, he was the fool, he fell for her “fraud”, and in the end, he was blindsided by her general, overall lacking (noun). In the end, he finds her to have been lacking in love.
Replace Robin Wright with Katie Holmes and Sean Penn with Tom Cruise and it’s the same situation: megalomania.
Isn’t it always the ultimate narcissistic who believes that he did all the giving and was never properly compensated? And the one who holds you emotionally hostage during the relationship with all of his needing to be loved? If you’ve ever been in this position, you know, it’s intensely manipulative, and sometimes frighteningly so. This is a form of control under the guise of need. He uses his need as power; his need makes him RIGHT, and therefore the person who’s depriving him is WRONG, and he’ll f-cking lord that over her for as long as possible.
God that must be exhausting. To love him, but also to love any actor. Because, as I always say, this is what they are: narcissistic, needy to the point of selfish, insecure, self-absorbed, and, yes, PETTY.
Wasn’t this petty? Petty and unaware?
To hold onto this and let it go publicly? Think of the motivation behind his words. If he thought, even for a second, that he would be criticised for it, or mocked, he would not have gone there. What’s most fascinating here is that he put this out believing that he’d be received sympathetically, that there would be no way that anyone would read this and not say to themselves, well that poor Sean Penn just didn’t get enough love, how sad for him, and how inspiring that he didn’t close his heart but instead opened it even more.
I mean that’s the intended reaction, isn’t it?
To applaud Sean Penn for his bravery. For his courage to love, and to need love, even though love has never been kind. It turns out Sean Penn’s a f-cking martyr. Jesus, how did we not know?
Click here to read the full Sean Penn piece in Esquire.