Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Nobody is safe from the vicious, ham-fisted satire of Sean Penn's new novel

Illustration for article titled Nobody is safe from the vicious, ham-fisted satire of Sean Penns new novelem/em
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Last year, we reported that Sean Penn had released a secret audiobook called Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff under the outrageous pseudonym “Pappy Pariah.” The story was about a man who installs pyrotechnic displays for foreign dictators and also works as an assassin for the U.S. government, and once Penn was finally unmasked as Pappy Pariah, he announced that he was teaming up with Atria Books to turn Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff into a proper novel. Now, Deadline has granted us a wicked glimpse into Penn’s totally in-your-face satire, and though it may shock and appall you, he has some stuff to say about Donald Trump.


Apparently, there’s a scene in the book where the eponymous Bob Honey writes a letter to the president, a man identified as—get this—Mr. Landlord. Here’s Deadline excerpt in full, because these words should not be tampered with:

Many wonderful American people in pain and rage elected you. Many Russians did, too. Your position is an asterisk accepted as literally as your alternative facts. Though the office will remain real, you never were nor will be. A million women so dwarfed your penis-edency on the streets of Washington and around the world on the day of your piddly inauguration…You are not simply a president of impeachment, you are a man in need of an intervention. We are not simply a people in need of an intervention, we are a nation in need of an assassin…Tweet me bitch, I dare you.


The comparisons are subtle, but it really seems like this “Mr. Landlord” is actually meant to represent Donald Trump, a man who famously owns property, tweets a lot, and had a sparsely attended inauguration. In a way, it’s the most vicious and unflinching takedown of Donald Trump since John Oliver suggested we start calling him Donald Drumpf. Penn’s targets don’t stop there, though, as Deadline says he (as Bob Honey) also takes on the #MeToo movement in a poem that calls it “infantilizing.” Here’s that excerpt:

Is this a toddlers’ crusade? Reducing rape, slut-shaming, and suffrage to reckless child’s play? A platform for accusation impunity? Due process has lost its sheen?

It’s about as nuanced as his takedown of Mr. Landlord, but it showcases Penn’s talent as a writer by allowing him to inhabit the character of this man who—for whatever reason—is frightened by a culture in which men are actually called out for the bad things they’ve done. Perhaps Bob Honey has faced some accusations in the past, possibly regarding a tumultuous marriage he had with a musical icon or violent outbursts against photographers?

We’ll get to know more about Bob Honey when the book is finally published later this month.


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