A Lady's Ruminations

"Jane was firm where she felt herself to be right." -Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Friday, September 09, 2005

A Hero Complex?

Sean Penn was on Larry King's show on CNN on Wednesday night. According to the website, the topic, theme, whatever you call it was "Celebrity Studded Panel Discusses Hurricane Katrina Disaster." How silly is that? "Celebrity Studded Panel." As if they know anything about the hurricane just because they are "celebrities."

Osean Penn Laden was on to discuss his little adventure in New Orleans. You can read about it here. Picture here.

In short, Penn decided to play hero, took a boat out to "rescue" people, and caused a great story. The boat sprung a leak, so Sean Penn, in a white flak jacket, started bailing it out with a red plastic cup. The boat was full of Penn's entourage, according to the story, including a personal photographer. The motor wouldn't work, so they had to row down the flooded New Orleans street.

Not exactly a Knight in Shining Armour (but then, I'm sure Sean Penn would think such men evil, because they defend the innocent---like we did in Iraq).

Over on IMDB.com, you will find this blurb:
Sean Penn: "My New Orleans Efforts Were Sincere"

Movie star Sean Penn has hit back at reports he used the Hurricane Katrina tragedy as a publicity stunt. The Oscar-winning actor and activist has been charged with taking a personal photographer and crew to New Orleans, Louisiana - so they could document his efforts. But angry Penn insists his motives were all good - he hired a boat and helped ferry 40 stranded locals to safety. On Wednesday, he told CNN host Larry King, "We went in, a couple of friends of mine, on our own. Certainly we had the attention of some photographers. We tried to do what we could."
I found the entire transcript from his interview on Larry King's "Celebrity Studded Panel Discusses Hurricane Katrina Disaster" show, on 7 September 2005. You can read it here (scroll down).

Right now, we're going to go to San Francisco and checking in with Sean Penn, the Oscar winning actor and activist. He was in New Orleans. Just landed back to San Francisco. What was your role there, Sean? What were you trying to do?

SEAN PENN, ACTOR: Well, Larry, let me -- let me just begin by sharing the MoveOn Web site for housing and those interested in opening up housing for people. It is www.HurricaneHousing.org. And they have already -- they've got 160,000 beds available. They've already placed 17,000 people.

KING: Great.

PENN: My role, basically, I was, you know, one more person watching television, and just feeling that there weren't enough people there. And so, it became easy to get out to for me to get a boat, and get out on the water with some other people, and try to get people out of water.
KING: And so you obviously had a personal feeling. But there's been some -- you always run into this, attacks on you. So, let's clear some things up. The "Melbourne Sun Herald," apparently the first to report that you traveled with an entourage, with a personal photographer and claim the rescue boat filled with water and sank. What is the story?
Attacks? We have called Sean Penn an idiot and a stooge of Saddam Hussein. His side has called President Bush "Hitler," "liar," "loser," "murderer," and a thousand other foul and untrue names. I think Sean Penn can handle being called a few things like "dumbbell," "stupid," and "brainless."
PENN: They find -- the Sun (INAUDIBLE) that photographer. They give me a million to contribute to the people here. And I'll do the same back to them to do whatever they want with it. That is absolutely not the case.

We went in, a couple of friends of mine on our own. Certainly, we had the attention of some photographers. We tried to do as much as we could. We were able to bring, between our boat and two other civilian boats, about 40 people out of water. And that was all we were there to do.

So, if we can -- if they'd like to stand up to the plate and help some of the people, I would be right with them on it.

KING: So, you are asking the paper to put up some money?

PENN: Absolutely. I think the paper should put up some money. And I think a lot of -- this is going to be a situation that we know is going to go on for a long time. I think we should be considering some kind of potentially permanent reparations, along those lines of veteran's benefits and so on, because these people will be desperate for a long time.

They've already made one life that's been taken away from them. Clearly, there's a lot of political issues that are surrounding this that will come out in the wash. But for the moment, they are absolutely desperate and need a lot of help.
He doesn't actually deny having a personal photorapher. Perhaps he ought to have worn a hat and sunglasses, so as not to draw such attention to himself.

And, why should the newspaper, which was doing its job of reporting (something liberals think is sacred), have to give money because it reported the truth about Sean's little adventure? Should every newspaper that has "maligned" President Bush have to contribute to the Republican National Committee?

And, reparations? "Potentially permanent reparations"??? Whatever for? So we can have an entire city of people on welfare? That's a ridiculous idea. Why don't you finance it, Sean? I'm sure you have made enough money pretending to be other people.
KING: The boat never sank, then, right?

PENN: No. The boat never sank.
Hmmmm, I don't remember any reports of the boat sinking, only of it having a leak and needing bailing out. One of those photographers took a nice picture, which you can see here.
KING: Do you think celebrity can be a double-edged sword here? On the one hand, it draws attention to he problems. On the other hand, people are always saying, well, he's getting publicity?

PENN: You know -- it doesn't really matter. The point was that I -- out of the benefit of celebrity, I could afford to get on an airplane and get down there. And we got a lot of people out of the water. The rest is for people to talk about.
PENN: Well, it is clearly devastating. I mean, once we were there, it was busy. You are moving all the time, hurrying very much. I have to thank CNN, whose boat, Nic Robertson allowed me to commandeer. But at the moment we were there, I was on the water, on and in the water for nine hours. And we only saw three noncivilian boats. Most of the National Guard presence was in the air. They were doing a great job, those that were there. But there weren't enough there. There were an awful lot of civilians getting in there. And I think they will need more help and medical attention.

Sometimes, one of the issues is that the helicopter, because it's a difficult type of rescue process and it takes a long time for the lines to come down, there's power lines everywhere. We could sometimes go there and save them time, by seeing where the helicopters were, we'd go to what they were looking at. But sometimes those rotor blades would put people under water, which would mean that people had to jump in the water, which I also had to do to get people out.

So, I think that the more boats they can get in the water, the more immediately, the better.

There are still a lot of people very much alive. This isn't a circumstance where, because of the heat and the time -- you know, they've foraged for food, they have been exposed to it for a long time. They're very much alive. And while there are many who do refuse coming out, there are still many that want help.

KING: Thank you so much, Sean. Sean Penn.
And by the time you were saying all this, Sean Penn, most of the citizens of New Orleans were out of the city. There were a few holdouts who wanted to stay, but the need for boats to go in was very much decreased.

I guess it must be fun to play a hero. Just remember, Sean, acting it isn't the same as living it.