Yesterday, Captain Ed directed our gaze to the pathetic cry for attention by Hollywood star and professional vonts Sean Penn, who pretended to participate in the rescue of Katrina victims… in a tiny boat, just about big enough for three people. Which is what it already carried, counting Penn and two “unidentified members of his entourage,” one of them a photographer along to record the historic moment for posterity. (King Banaian brought our attention to the former Mr. Madonna’s valuable contribution to the Hurricane Katrina rescue effort.)
According to Agence France-Presse:
Efforts by Penn to aid New Orleans victims stranded by Hurricane Katrina foundered badly Sunday, when the boat he was piloting to launch a rescue attempt sprang a leak. Penn had planned to rescue children waylaid by Katrina’s flood waters, but apparently forgot to plug a hole in the bottom of the vessel, which began taking water within seconds of its launch.
(Where was Penn going to put the expected rescuees?)
Today, as Paul Harvey would have said, we get “the rest of the story.”
From This Is London (emphasis added, as if you needed any help to spot the duncetude):
Oscar-winning Hollywood actor Sean Penn, who has been assisting rescue efforts in New Orleans, said the US government did not “seem to be inclined to help”.
“We were pulling drowning people out of the water, it’s the ultimate distress and human suffering … dead bodies,” he told GMTV.
Penn said he had spent nine hours on Monday searching the water for people and during all that time he saw just three boats carrying US officials.
“There are people that are dying right now and I mean babies and old people and everybody in between – they’re dying. There are people dying and (the US government are) not putting the boats in the water, I think that’s criminal negligence. I don’t think anybody ever anticipated the criminal negligence of the Bush administration in this situation.”
As Morey Amsterdam said, sometimes, you look at them and wonder. Other times, you just look.
My first thought upon reading that Penn “saw just three boats carrying US officials” while he floundered and foundered was to wonder why it took three boats to rescue the oaf. I also wondered whether Penn’s nose stretched like Pinnochio as he spun this creepy and psychotic fantasy about “pulling drowning people out of the water” (unless he meant his own photographer, who might have toppled over trying to get the perfect publicity shot.
Captain Ed called it smack on the nose:
Penn wanted to show up the government response by claiming that performing a rescue was not a difficult task, and that while FEMA and the National Guard took too long to get it done, a Hollywood celebrity could just rent a boat and tool around at will, picking up children and taking pictures for the Exempt Media to publish.
But Ed misunderestimated the cosmic extent of Penn’s chutzpah, failing to anticipate that the superannuated enfant terrible would go right ahead with his deception notwithstanding having been caught in the act of fabrication… and even in the face of photographs proving his mendacity!
Oh well; “Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.”
UPDATE: Several commenters, notably MattJ, noted that after Penn’s embarassing collapse above, he found some other boat and went out and rescued a few people (only one is named). MattJ links to an article in the New York Daily News.
They miss the point. Had Penn really wanted to help, there is a lot he could have done that would actually have helped. For example, he could have done what many other celebrities are doing: raise money for food, water, medicine, and other relief efforts.
He could have rented trucks or buses, had them driven to some staging area outside the flood zone, and turned them over to FEMA or some state agency. Or he could have just donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the relief effort; he certainly has more liquid capital than Sachi and I, and we gave more than we could really afford (we contributed to United Jewish Communities; if anyone knows whether they do a good job, please comment here — we’re about to donate more, and I want to make sure it’s being spent effectively).
But the goofy and useless way that Penn chose to carry out his “rescues” — accompanied, nobody now denies, by his “personal photographer” — makes it brutally clear to all that he had only two real purposes: first and foremost, to satisfy his own narcissism; and secondarily, to advance the urgent task of hating George W. Bush. The needs of actual victims took a back seat to these to psychotic goals; just for one example, leaving the photographer behind would have allowed him to take another doctor, a real rescuer, or even just twenty more gallons of fresh water.
I stand by everything I wrote above… even if Penn’s photo-op went somewhat better in Take 2.