Sean Penn, appearing in Argentina as part of his work as the United Nations ambassador-at-large for relief efforts in Haiti, recently criticized the British government’s claims to sovereignty over what it calls “the Falkland Islands” (and what Penn, bowing to Spanish-speaking custom, refers to as the Malvinas Islands) as an example of a “ludicrous and archaic commitment to colonialist ideology.”
He subsequently denounced the deployment of Prince William to the islands, calling it “unthinkable that the United Kingdom can make a conscious decision to deploy a prince within the military to the Malvinas,” because of its insensitivity to people who lost loved ones in the Falklands War. Unsurprisingly, Penn’s remarks didn’t go over well in England, with the Daily Mail imploring “Save us from these egotistical stars who think they are world statesmen.”
Now Penn has written an editorial for the Guardian to clarify his views and address some of the reaction to his earlier statements.As you might expect from a committed activist who has always been eager to share his informed opinions on any subject except for what Madonna’s really like, Penn feels very strongly about all of this, especially the part about how his words have been misrepresented as the misplaced showboating of a celebrity loudmouth:
Here is what needs to be known: the principal re-sculpting of my remarks by irresponsible journalism was to encourage the inflammatory notion that I had taken a specific position against those currently residing in the Malvinas/Falkland Islands, that they should either be deported or absorbed into Argentine rule. I neither said, nor insinuated that… the legalisation of Argentinian immigration to the Malvinas/Falkland Islands is one that it seems might have been addressed, but for the speculative discovery of booming offshore oil in the surrounding seas this past year. So when I used the term “archaic colonialism” in my remarks, it was not, as so ubiquitously misreported, a call for the repatriation of British subjects, but rather to question the deployment of Prince William to that area of operations… It is difficult to imagine that there is no correlation between the likely discovery of offshore oil reserves and the message of pre-emptive intimidation being sent by the UK to Argentina.
The first thing that ought to be said about Penn’s essay is that he raises an interesting point or two. The second thing is that, to truly savor his prose style, you should arrange to have it read to you aloud by whichever friend of yours does the most killer Jeff Spicoli imitation. While Penn’s deep concern on these issues is commendable, it remains a sad statement on the quality of this year’s presidential race that he had to go so far outside the boundaries of his native land and its mainstream news cycle to find something he could talk about to piss people off.