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A Hollywood star arrives in a ravaged, destitute country with a load of supplies and starts up a charity whilst ordering people around, blackmailing and pretending to know what he’s doing in a bid to try to look like some kind of hero. It sounds like something that wouldn’t be surprising, except that that’s not exactly what happened with Sean Penn and his work in Haiti. The NY Times has a decent piece about him and while I’m no fan, it does suggest he’s got some steel to back up his idealism and Latin American-leftist sympathizing. There are some questionable details about him (the parts in the description I wrote in my first sentence about him blackmailing and pretending to know what he was doing, he said it himself). He has been in Haiti for over a year and seems to have gained some respect from military figures and aid workers. The article also has one of the best phrases I’ve ever read- “In moments of great displeasure, Penn’s lip actually curls and his eyelids droop so low that he begins to look stoned on his own contempt.” The word “stoned” seems kind of apt in a witty way concerning Penn’s past. Penn himself gives a great quote of his own. Talking about why he’s doing relief work in Haiti, he says “But you sit here in a situation like this, and you feel part of the history of the world. The world is out of its mind with stupidity and the worship of stupidity.” Yeah, I think so too sometimes, Sean Penn.

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