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Sean Penn gets the media he deserves

On the 15th of February, I was sitting in a pub in London. As is often the case nowadays, this pub had flat screen televisions on some of the walls, and they were switched to the BBC’s 24 hour news channel. This too is common, as is the practice of switching down the sound and turning on the simultaneous subtitles that are transmitted with the broadcast, theoretically for the benefit of the deaf, but also useful in other places (such as pubs) where it might not be possible for viewers to listen to the audio. For live broadcasts such as news, the audio is being thrown through computer voice recognition software and the subtitles generated automatically. It appears that particularly egregious or hilarious errors are then corrected by a human, but not until after viewers had seen them.

In any event, the news was of Sean Penn’s trip to Argentina, where he had been prancing around, referring to the conflict over the “Malvinas”, and just generally behaving like a self-important Hollywood star talking about things he does not understand. Yawn, actually. What was more interesting to me was the BBC coverage. The studio talking head in London said a few words, and then crossed to someone somewhere else, a South American reporter who was presumably somewhere nearer to Buenos Aires. (I didn’t record the names of the talking heads, unfortunately). The two had a conversation on air. The South American correspondent more or less repeated what had been said already. Then he uttered this lovely line.

Actually Sean Penn has gone to Uruguay today, or Paraguay – it is one of the two…

Huh? I mean, huh? Disregarding the fact that the BBCs South American correspondent should actually know where Sean Penn has gone before going on air to talk about Sean Penn, there are other things that helpful to know. Uruguay – nice place on the coast on the other side of the River Plate from Buenos Aires – in fact in many ways almost an extension of Buenos Aires and so close that one can almost sneeze and discover that one is there. Exactly the sort of place that a shallow Hollywood star likes to go to to be fawned on by the President. Also, the “He has gone there today” thing. You have a schedule of events in BA and someone throws an event in Uruguay in the middle of it. That works.

Paraguay on the other hand – dubious and rather lawless inland place that Sean Penn wouldn’t be seen dead in.Getting there from BA is a bit more work, and going there is not quite such a casual thing, so it is much less likely he would have an engagement there the day after one in BA.

They are not, in fact, very similar, and they are impossible to confuse if you know anything at all about them. However, they are small countries between Argentina and Brazil that have similar names, which I suppose makes it likely that today’s BBC reporters will confuse them. Is this guy based in Rio or something? Or is he in the next studio just pretending to be in South America. One does at least hope they can occasionally employ people who can deduce B from A, but not here.

Perhaps the budget has been cut. If so, am I admitting that my feelings about this are mixed?

10 comments to Sean Penn gets the media he deserves

  • Yes, there probably wasn’t any need for me to defame Paraguay there. Oh well.

  • Paul Marks

    The more P.C. (the more “the other guy is always right – all the problems in the world are caused by rich, white, males….”) the elite become – the more ignorant they also become.

    For example, if the hostility of Iranian regime is caused by America and Britain helping to undermine a pro Soviet government in 1953 (not that most of the media, and so on, could name the date – they would just say “Imperialism” or “colonialism” or some such) then one does not have to know anything about Islamic theology in general, or Shia “hastener” theology in particular.

    Just as if Argentina is automatically correct against “colonialist” Britain – then one does not need to know anything about Argentina (for example that this whole islands thing was whipped up by the governments Argentina has had since the 1930s – before this Argentinian governments had little interest in the Falklands).

    Nor does one need to know anything about other countries in Latin America – all one needs to know is that the locals are noble, wickedly oppressed by evil Anglo-American big business, and the local rich.

    You could actually send one of the elite media (or other such) types to the Latin American county – and they might still get the name wrong (after all – they would know nothing about the place).

    “They need to be educated”.

    Sadly they have been “educated” – that is the problem.

  • MojoMonkee

    I really can’t understand the mentality on these sorts of issues. Its similar with Spain and Gibraltar, they complain that it is rightfully Spanish because its near Spain whist completely forgetting about the Canaries which are off the coast of Morocco. Presumably they should be Moroccan aswell regardless of the will of the people?

    With the Falklands it seems the only right they have is an ancient claim of the Spanish Monarchy. So essentially the “anti-colonialist” Penn respects the law of the Spanish monarchy more than the rights of a few thousand people. How Radical that is

  • Robert Speirs

    Jane Fonda aims an anti-aircraft gun in Hanoi; Hillary C. attacks W. Bush for lying about WMD’s that she had agreed were there; Penn takes the direct opposite side from his government and country. These are not struggles between nations. They are struggles for dominance within elites in decrepit Western Anglosphere countries. I don’t see any Argentinian elites upholding the rights of the Falklanders to self-determination.

    OT (kind of): did you see the story about Syrian WMD’s justifying intervention, and, even more mind- boggling if true, that they might be Saddam’s?? What happened to that story?

  • Ernie G

    That Uruguay-Paraguay thing reminded me of the old joke with the punch line “Iceberg, Greenberg, what’s the difference?”

  • Mendicant

    Paul, there is no evidence that the democratically elected Mossadegh government was “pro-Soviet”. Mossadegh was pro-Iranian, and acted in his country’s interests. A patriot. It should be noted that BP arrogantly refused to negotiate a fairer deal, forcing Mossadegh’s hand.

    Mossadegh gave not a toss for Soviet ideology, in fact he was very Pro-American.
    Can you not see the irony and hypocrisy of a government (UK) which owned BP throwing a hissy fit over another government (Iran) nationalising its oil?

    Thus, the “Soviet” canard dies on its arse when faced with logic.

    Why do you think Truman told the Brits to get lost when they called the Waaaambulance?

    Operation Ajax was a classic example of big government cronyism and socialism; taxpayers money spent for the benefit of state-owned oil companies.

    As for the Falklands, Penn is talking nonsense (but then he is in good company; witness the hilarious, deranged speculation of war in the paranoid UK press), but so is Cameron; the British government’s attitude to sovereignty is truly revealed by the scandalous Wikileaks documents on the Chagos islands.

  • veryretired

    I would estimate my interest in Penn’s political views to be at the same level as my concern about which intoxicant Lohan is doing this week, or who Paris Hilton’s new bff is—zero.

    Another example of the reduction of the world’s communications network into a global edition of “Screen Digest”.

    It’s not the media’s bias that bothers me, but their endlessly boring trivia, their celebrity driven superficiality, and their abject cowardice.


  • guy herbert

    Penn takes the direct opposite side from his government and country

    That’s not a problem. I do it all the time. ALL the time.

    Penn’s problem is he’s an idiot. (Fine actors are frequently just a splurge of emotion and empathy. You want superhot steam in a calliope. You don’t want it under your desk with the PC and the genitalia.) ‘His’ government happens to be equivocal on the point currently. But if it agreed with him, it wouldn’t make his view any less idiotic.

  • Paul Marks

    Medicant you are mistaken, M – decided to play the Soviet card.

    I do not claim that he was a Marxist – but he played the card.

    As for the oil – the Shah nationalised it anyway.

    But he did not allow Soviet forces near the Gulf.

    “But M. was not serious – he was just playing a card….”

    Do that and get your heart cut out. That was the CIA view in the 1950s – and they were correct.

    However, if M. was innocent (if he really did not have Soviet contacts) then the British agents who framed him (if they did frame him) should have been force fed their own sexual organs – that should go without saying.

    As for the British – I do not understand them (and I am British myself).

    Such things as the deal with Nasser in 1954 (i.e. the removal of British forces from the Canal Zone in return for piece of paper) make no sense.

    The withdrawl of 1954 made the events of 1956 (the nationalization of the canal – and the collapse of Western influence in much of the Middle East) inevitable.