Philly Blunt

Freelance writer. Editor and web-video producer. Former Atlantic City Press and Philadelphia Weekly staff writer, City Paper managing editor/columnist and Dougherty for Senate campaign manager. Comments welcome here or emailed to brianhickey9 [at] hotmail. Now on: Facebook (Brian Hickey, in Philly) Twitter at Flickr at Be sure to check out Hickey on Divorce Court:

24 February 2009

Milk cried for The Ram

Listen, I'm still furious that the "commie, homo-lovin' sons-of-guns" slighted Randy "The Ram" Robinson Sunday night because of Hollywood's lust for milk, but I've long loved me -- in a non-sexual way, of course -- some Sean Penn. Because he's the one dude that I consider more badass than I think of myself, though the hit-and-run just might have evened us out. I'll let you know when I get casted as the Junkyard Dog.
In any case, I read Penn's pre-Oscar interview in Rolling Stone last night and it reminded me of why I got much respec' for the man. I don't entirely agree with his politics -- except maybe that Bush and Cheney should "be in fucking jail," but I wholeheartedly believe that people who hold different stances than myself should be afforded the right to share them as many people as possible. And that freedom of not only speech but thought should be celebrated.
Here are some examples:

What do you think Harvey Milk would have become, if he had lived?
The only significant speculation I make is if you look at the timing, what an incredibly powerful voice he would have been when the plague hit, which was a year after. You had an entire administration that never said the word "AIDS." He would have pushed that issue, and there would be people alive today that aren't. That seems a pretty safe bet.

How about the famous scene in Mystic River, where your character is being held down by that huge group of police officers as he tries to get to his daughter's body?
This is my favorite story of his guidance. In the script, it was written that six guys are stopping me. I thought maybe two of them could take me. But if it's only six of them, someone might get hurt if I really let myself go, so I don't know what to do. I don't want a really fake fight, and I don't want to hurt anybody. Clint said, "I'll figure it out," and that's all he said. When I came back to the set, he had about 15 guys jump on me, and I was locked down — I was literally able to try to head-butt people, I was able to try to bite people, I was able to try to kick them. I didn't have to hold back at all, and it freed me to do anything. This is Clint thinking.

The gist was, they praised you as an actor but said you're a naive journalist.
Well, I think that they're professionally naive journalists. I have no regard for 90 percent of American journalism. That's why I travel and look for things for myself. If you're going to get on Cuba for its lack of free press, well, we don't have any press, as far as I'm concerned. We supposedly have the right to it. But we don't fulfill it. I'm flattered by their disparaging remarks. And with the television guys, a lot of it's based on actor envy. They're all a bunch of failed actors. Bill O'Reilly wanted to be an actor more than anything. So they have to diminish it. I've heard plenty of actors say, "I don't like it when actors get political." They're just trying to appease these people.

Have you seen other Oscar-buzz films?
I thought about getting out later today, start with Gran Torino and The Wrestler, and then see Benjamin Button later in the week. I run into Clint and Mickey all over the place lately and have to keep saying, "Sorry! I haven't seen it yet. . . ." [In a follow-up interview, Penn said he'd seen The Wrestler: "I wept. Beautiful piece of work."]

As Bush leaves office, do you have anything nice to say about him?
No. I truly think the man should be imprisoned for the rest of his life. I know that sounds like some lefty thing, but I think the state of accountability is a sham. It's one of my biggest problems with Barack Obama. When Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon, a lot of people were upset about it, but then when Ford died, these Democrats who'd once criticized Ford for that pardon suddenly had these revisionist opinions: "We needed to be unified." But long term, do you think Bush and Cheney would have gone to the trough like they did if Nixon had gone to jail? No. So when Barack Obama came out militantly opposed not only to impeachment but censuring, I thought, "What the fuck is that for accountability?" Yes, I do think that Obama is a deeply elegant, bright, human person who gives a shit and can do it, who can actually help change the world. But I don't know yet if all of us are going to do our part.


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