Sean Penn: Social media is ‘fueled by the idiocracy in this country’


Sean Penn is still promoting his shoot ‘em-up action film, The Gunman. The cast includes Idris Elba and Javier Bardem, which is enough to get me to watch this when it comes on TV two years from now. But no, I don’t think anyone was really clamoring for a big Sean Penn action film. His press tour to promote the film has been really interesting though – this is his first big press tour since getting with Charlize Theron. So we’re seeing a different side of Penn. He does seem happier, I guess. Anyway, he has a new interview with USA Today – you can read the full piece here. Some highlights:

His memories of his filmography: “Honestly within a week after I’ve finished shooting a film I’ve almost forgotten it… I remember playing none of those scenes [in a highlight reel] – none of them. I remembered the movies…I virtually didn’t remember saying the words that I said. I saw myself in scenes with actors I didn’t even know I’d ever worked with!”

On red carpets: “Red carpets are uncomfortable. Being photographed is uncomfortable. It’s got nothing to do with being an actor, it’s just got to do with being me… you gotta suit up and take a deep breath and look for your real smile. You might even be happy that day but it’s hard to smile because you can feel the muscles in your face. I’m self-conscious under those circumstances.”

On the Oscars: “I didn’t go for most of the times I was nominated simply because it’s socially uncomfortable. It’s really like mainlining discomfort, because you’re going in a room full of people you haven’t seen. Like if you’re going into a restaurant and there’s too many people you haven’t seen or called in a year. That’s already uncomfortable. It’s like, ‘Hi, I didn’t call for this reason.’ Or then you have all the people you don’t want to see and you have all the people looking at you. I hate that. I don’t mind going there if you go in the back door and give out an award or something. But sitting in that seat, that’s a long sit.”

On directing Charlize Theron: “I really wish this could translate without the bias of the personal relationship – she is a director’s dream.” He smiles when talking about her. “She’s a woman.”

On social media: “I’m not interested in social media at this stage because I just feel it’s fueled by the idiocracy in this country.”

[From USA Today]

The interview also includes a half-way amusing story about Marlon Brando forgetting his costar in On the Waterfront (Rod Steiger) and Sean’s thoughts on the paparazzi. Regarding the quotes on red carpets… he reminds me of Kristen Stewart. RIGHT?! I feel like she’s said the exact same thing about how much she hates the red carpet. K-Stew and Sean Penn are emo siblings, hand to God. As for Charlize and “she’s a woman”… maybe I’m reading too much into all of this (doubtful), but it feels like Sean and Robin Wright are still making passive-aggressive (or just plain aggressive) digs at each other. Charlize is a “woman” and what about the mother of your children, Sean?


Photos courtesy of WENN, Fame/Flynet.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

62 Responses to “Sean Penn: Social media is ‘fueled by the idiocracy in this country’”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. perplexed says:

    Social media is global, isn’t it? There are some smart people you can find on there too…

    • MrsBPitt says:

      Penn is just too much of an “Idiot” to realize that!

    • Sixer says:

      It’s because celebrities think social media revolves around them. The good bits aren’t about them, so the good bits might as well not exist.

      Suits me. I enjoy the good bits. And they’re better for not having self-obsessed tits going on about the idiocracy all the time.

      • laura in LA says:

        Exactly. Celebrities complain about being harassed by mean tweets (so much that it’s fueled Jimmy Kimmel’s hilarious segments for awhile, but anyway…)

        So, here’s a thought: Maybe don’t be on Twitter? That a celebrity like Charlie Sheen is posting his own random, racist comments there is enough “idiocracy” for me.

    • Kiddo says:

      Penn sounds either incredibly introverted or antisocial. I’m going with the latter because he used to punch and attack people, and may still do it.*

      * Just caught a show about him last night, coincidentally.

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        He sounds so socially tortured for his age. More like I was in high school, when anything socially uncomfortable was sheer agony. Life’s too short to put yourself through that. He needs to grow up more – do your best to do the right thing towards other people, and then relax about it. Don’t be so exhausting.

      • Sixer says:

        I’m always depressed when he comes out with wankiness and demonstrates that he probably hasn’t become nicer with age, because I really rate his acting. Dead Man Walking is my favourite.

      • Kiddo says:

        I can relate in that I find large events with strangers and endless smalltalk EXHAUSTING and mostly not worth the time. Plus, as much as I enjoy being an observer of pomp and pageantry, I detest being a part of it. So I can relate to that, like maybe I’d want to just do my job well, but not to have to endure the really shallow political fakey-fakey element.

        But he has had incidents of rage over the years that just seemed disproportionate to circumstances, so that I find it must not just be simple extreme introversion. Or perhaps it is a combination of things, I’m not a psych doc.

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        Yes, I can relate to not wanting to be there, too. My husband’s firm annual black tie party. Ugh. Small talk with people you don’t know or especially like for hours. I just don’t get why he’s so squirmy and tortured about it. Do it. Don’t do it. Just don’t let it get to you.

      • Kiddo says:

        GoodNamesAllTaken, I get squirmy and tortured. I am screaming on the inside! I feel like I will crawl out of my skin. I can do it for an hour tops. Then it goes significantly downhill from there.

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        You poor thing! I’m so sorry. I guess I was being unfair to him. Is it because you’re shy, or bored or feel like you don’t know what to say? I was like that when I was younger, but it was mostly my ADD. It’s very hard for me to be bored, or rather to focus on something that bores me for a long time. When I would be chatting with someone, my mind would constantly roam off to more interesting areas, and I would have to say to myself over and over “focus, focus, focus.” So I wound up exhausted. I guess as I’ve gotten older, I just found ways to cope plus stopped really caring. Lol. But I’m sorry you have to go through that.

      • Jib says:

        Haha!!! I agree with you!! Definitely anti-social. I don’t know a lot of sensitive introverts who beat the shit out of their women.

        He sounds like such a jerk – idiocracy! Like he just came from a MENSA meeting or something. Really, these celebrities are so self-involved, they think the world revolves around them and that what they think matters.

        Go away, Sean. And since she obviously is a dope for dating you, take Charlize with you.

    • mernymerlyn says:

      Other generations said that about any form of “entertainment”.
      Radio, moving pictures, talking pictures, pictures in color, television, computers, the internet!
      Lighten up you joyless piece of weathered looking leather.

  2. Kiddo says:

    I don’t think I would ever categorize Penn as “emo”. Doesn’t that denote someone who has all the sensitive ‘feels’?

  3. Hautie says:

    Charlize is a woman = Charlize does not take any sh*t off me. And she has been known to back hand him when he acts up with her. (joke!)

    I don’t really read it as a slam towards the previous wife. As much as Charlize is just not the one, to put up with non-sense. Especially from a 50 year old emo.

    • Tara says:

      Agree. It’s not a slam at his ex-wife. What is Sean supposed to do every time he says something nice about Charlize add: and my ex-wife is wonderful too! People read too much into stuff. LOL.

  4. Lb says:

    Shocked to say this because he’s usually such a douche but I don’t see anything offensive or wrong in what SP says in this interview. I also like his explanations about why he doesn’t like the red carpet and award shows.

    • Kiddo says:

      Well, I’ll give him that he has difficulty being inauthentic in acting, in real life, when it comes to his peers. He doesn’t seem to want to pretend that he’s awed or happy to see anyone, who he is not joyful to see.

      • StormsMama says:

        “…didn’t remember saying the words that I said. I saw myself in scenes with actors I didn’t even know I’d ever worked with!”
        Cocaine will do that to you Sean!!!!!!!

    • Esmom says:

      I could relate to what he said about the red carpet and award shows, too. I hated having a wedding because I knew all eyes would be on me. The older I get the more I realize I’m basically only truly comfortable when I”m at home with a book (or my computer, clearly).

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        True, but I think your feelings come from a dislike of being the center of attention, which stems from something nice about you – modesty, or whatever you might call it. And your feelings are realistic – all eyes ARE on you at your own wedding. But he’s acting like all eyes are on him at the Academy Awards, which I think stems more from ego. Are they really? I’m not saying that his remarks were offensive or anything. Just maybe a little less than I would expect from someone his age who has been in the situation many times.

      • Esmom says:

        GoodNames, thank you for the kind sentiments. Maybe I give him too much credit in thinking as I read his words that he’s also really shy and maybe even modest…and while he loves the craft of acting (while simultaneously being able to block the experience out immediately?) he just isn’t comfortable with the spotlight that comes with the celebrity. I know he’s had anger/rage issues so clearly it’s more complicated than that and certainly ego plays a part of it too. I guess maybe he and I are less alike than I’d started to think, whew! 🙂

      • Franca says:

        GNAT, he said he didn’t like to goo when he’s nominated, because then all eyes are on him, which is true, nominees get more attention.

        I’m not married, but just thinking about being a bride makes me anxious. All eyes on you and all that. Especially the first dance. Dancing while people stare at you? Incredibly uncomfortable.

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        That’s true, Franca. Maybe I was too hard on him?

      • Virgilia Coriolanus says:

        Me too! Whenever I imagine getting married, I always imagine a short affair at the Court House with a giant party…..because I always feel so awkward when everyone’s looking at me. Like I hate it when everyone looks at me when they’re singing me happy birthday……it just makes me feel so weird and awkward.

    • Tara says:

      I like that he says it has nothing to do with being famous, it’s just to do with him being him. He is never comfortable on the red carpet or award shows, so he will always look pissed off.

  5. D says:

    I wonder if Sean Penn thanks his lucky stars that social media wasn’t around when he sexually assaulted and beat the crap out of Madonna.

    Then again, given how many celebrities continue to have flourishing careers after committing physical/sexual violence against women, perhaps it wouldn’t have made a difference and his career wouldn’t have been derailed at all.

    • Jib says:

      It obviously wasn’t derailed, right???

      Isn’t it odd that he doesn’t remember working with people he worked with?? I can understand the lines not being remembered, but forgetting people?? Does he have a split personality or was it just all of the drugs????

  6. Tig says:

    After the recent awfulness of Curt Schilling’s daughter, Ashley Judd’s Twitter account, and now the “private” FB account of Penn State frat boys with their wonderful comments re passed out drunk women, in various stages of undress- I think “idiots” is too generous. His other comments are fine.

  7. MrsBPitt says:

    With every interview and every, picture of that smug, arrogant, face, I dislike Penn, more and more! Penn reminds me of Kanye, in that, he thinks he is a genious, that floats above the peasants, and knows things, the rest of us “idiots” couldn’t possibly comprehend. The difference is, I can laugh at Kanye, because when he starts his diatribe, he sounds so ridiculous. Penn, on the hand, just sounds like an angry, condescending, egotist! Also, this man has had a reputation as an abuser of women, and I don’t believe a leopard changes his spots so quickly. Charlize should know better, with the history of abuse her mother and she suffered at the hands of her father. I will never see another Sean Penn movie again. To me he is right up there with Charlie Sheen, Mel Gibson, Woody Allen, and Roman Polanski, etc…

  8. Prairiegirl says:

    Takes one to know one, Sean.

  9. Talie says:

    I don’t like him, but I do agree that social media has created this weird world where people have to tear down others for mistakes to the point of total destruction.

    • Esmom says:

      Agree. I know others here have pointed out the positives of social media but I think the bad far outweighs the good.

      • Ash says:

        I agree, Esmom that the bad outweighs the good, which was a factor in why I quit using social media.

    • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

      Yes, I agree. I was just reading an article on Lonny about a couple who decorated their Manhattan cafe in a unique style, and it was a homey, comfortable place – not at all pretentious. I glanced at the comments, and this one guy wrote “does the phrase ‘more money than sense’ come to mind?” That’s just the tip of the iceberg, I know, with all the hate and threats of violence, but I thought, really? Why make such a nasty remark about this little couple who made their dream come true. He just wanted to be mean. I think social media is awful.

    • Patricia says:

      I can’t stand him but I do agree with him about social media networks.

    • Ash says:

      I agree too. I used to be active on social media. I see how it can be beneficial on a professional level and for keeping abreast of the news. But on a personal level? I no longer see it as a productive use of my time.

  10. Maya says:

    Ok Sean – we get it. You are the most intelligent man in the world, the rest of us will never reach the same genius status as you. Charlize is the most stunning woman in the world, she is lovely to date and is the only woman you have loved, she is a perfect match for you etc

    Now can you please do the rest of us less intelligent humans a favour and shut up, take your woman and disappear???

    Many thanks in advance..

  11. dr mantis toboggan says:

    Cool. I nominate Sean Penn for Monday night rehabilitation

  12. Betti says:

    i have never gotten him – good actor and all but he’s really not a nice person. He’s always treated the women in his life like crap, only a matter of time before he starts bad mouthing Charlize (who is too good for him).

    • GingerCrunch says:

      Yeah, he might’ve been better off just keeping quiet and letting his work speak for him. But he’s such an egotistical arse he’s gotta mouth off. And it’s so offensive I think that’s all I’d think about if I ever saw one of his movies again, which is doubtful.

  13. seesittellsit says:

    He must have been reading some of the BC/SH “truther” blogs. Hey, Sean darling, don’t judge the rest of us by BTT and Wiki! Meanwhile, back at Penn Ranch, we hear Mr. P. from your ex-wife that you were kind of a slouch in the sack. So let’s call it a draw and you cut us some slack and we’ll cut you some?

  14. Pete says:

    Why does he have time for interviews?

    Shouldn’t he be standing in some Venezuelan breadline right now?

  15. Adrien says:

    I’m sure Sean has created several accounts before and trolled everyone but is too old to know how those things work so he dismisses them as idiot’s playground. So yeah, those people who are too cool to have one are probably spending their time stalking and trolling their high school classmates and former lovers.
    Anyway, here’s Sean Penn and his ingenious way of helping Katrina victims.

  16. Tara says:

    I know he’s a douche, but can Sean ever say anything nice about Charlize without people taking it as a dig at Robin? He was just saying something nice about his girlfriend. “She’s a woman” is just a nice thing to say. I don’t think Robin had anything to do with it. That’s like people saying every nice thing Brad says about Angelina is a dig at Jennifer Aniston. It’s not.

  17. Nikki Girl says:

    “Idiocracy” is not a word. It is the name of a (hilarious) movie starring Luke Wilson and Maya Rudolph and was meant to be an ironic title. “Idiocy” is the word he was looking for. Pretty humorous considering Penn considers himself to be above everyone else in terms of intelligence. Not so much.

  18. ilovesunnydaze says:

    He’s a terrific actor and I like what he says. I have a hard time being phony esp to people I dont respect.

  19. Jayna says:

    I don’t think he’s a bad person. I get the awkwardness he’s talking about socially and hating the red carpet and social media.

    But I think on a personal level he’s probably an exhausting person to be around. He has a mind that is always going and his thought patterns are all over the place, and arrogant in his beliefs in the way he delivers things. I do think in his relationships he’s needy. I couldn’t imagine being with him day in and day out. But he is a brilliant actor. His bitterness towards his ex-wife is sad, to me. They were together a long time, and he needs to get over it.

    What is interesting is in another interview he gave in which he was all over the place, but the interviewer said he was actually a delight and really engaged and seemed to enjoy it (unlike many of the interviewer’s other celeb interviews), and that you just had to go with the flow in where Sean would go, I guess more like a stream of consciousness. But Sean said he grew up in a normal, loving family, great parents. He praised his father as a real man, a real hero to him. They were in the movie business,I think, but it never spilled over into the family life where it affected the kids. And that his anger issues, etc., had nothing to do with his childhood, as happens with many people. I don’t know where Sean’s tortured soul comes from. He did say becoming so involved in Haiti and other places changed him forever.

    I still believe Charlize all of a sudden got with him because he was spending time with Madonna. He went to Madonna’s tour and was front and center cheering her on. He later went to her premier for some art for freedom project she was doing and photos showed them together smiling and hugging. Madonna broke up with her boyfriend (not because of Sean). He invites her down to Haiti, probably to see firsthand the work still ongoing and for Madonna to donate, and Rocco came. And, bam, Charlize is in heavy with him all of a sudden and not hiding it. Photos are taken of them on the beach. I think she was on the fence about him and maybe casually saw each other, and saw Madonna and him being even friendlier than usual, though not involved, and that motivated her and she swooped in and turned full-on serious for him.

    • ilovesunnydaze says:

      He’s had a lot of bad press. I don’t believe the majority of it. The press are simply pissed because he doesnt like their intrusion.

    • Tara says:

      No I believe what happened is they ran into each other at Seth McFarlane party, found that they were both single this time and started taking their friendship to the next level. It’s nothing to do with Madonna.

    • Jib says:

      So a man who ties up his wife for nine hours and beats her with a baseball bat is not a bad person???


  20. Jonesy says:

    Shut up, Spicoli.

  21. phlyfiremama says:

    OK, Spicoli, thanks for your opinion, dude.

  22. Sara says:

    He’s right about the social media bit. He may be grumpy, but he’s not stupid or short-sighted.

  23. Penelope says:

    That’s actually the best explanation of why the Oscars, etc. kind of suck on some level.

  24. Wheeze says:

    He’s so right. Social media is mostly used by very stupid people who have a need to pose all day and post pics of their abs/cleavage. Hence the rise of Kim Kardashian. Posing as self-actualisation. Beat that, Socrates (or Plato or Francis Bacon or Einstein or *insert major philosopher of choice*). It IS the Idiocracy.

  25. Kisses says:

    Same guy that was caught with Russian escorts by Robin Wright and was rumored to have hit Madonna. Take a seat dude. I didn’t think you would be hip to social media anyhow. We don’t need your constant mr.grump act.

  26. LaurieH says:

    I dislike Sean Penn on so many levels, but his take on social media I agree with. It’s killed civility.

    • Lola says:

      I actually like Sean Penn, always thought he did belong with Madonna and they both knew so, basing the comment on an article I read ages ago, about Madonna being at a photo spread and when asked to do something that would get her angry she just kept repeating Penn’s ex wife name, that I would forever love in The Princess Bride, but … I digress … I do agree, social media has made us dumber, we can barely write and our thought process is extended to forming an opinion not by research but by listening to what some one else said that sounded pretty. Plus, it’s not the internet but hate net…. sad really.