June 12, 2005

Guided Tours


From Reuters: Sean Penn in new role at Friday Prayers in Tehran.

Hollywood actor Sean Penn, adopting the role of a journalist, scribbled in his notebook as Friday prayer worshippers in Tehran chanted "Death to America."

Penn, 44, in Iran on a brief assignment for the San Francisco Chronicle ahead of presidential elections on June 17, may be one of the best known faces in film, but he went unrecognized by the 6,000 faithful at Tehran University. [Emphasis added]

And from Mr. Penn's pre-war visit to Iraq: That's (not) Entertainment!, which is one of over 450 cartoon in our latest book Black & White World II.

UPDATE -- June 13: From Editor & Publisher: Camera of Sean Penn, Journalist, Confiscated in Iran. (Via Free Thoughts)

Iran was rocked by bombings on Sunday, killing at least nine and wounding more than 30, as dozens of journalists from around the world gathered in advance of the presidential election this Friday. One of those journalists, actor Sean Penn--covering the events for the San Francisco Chronicle--was involved in a separate incident, and had his video camera confiscated for a time.

Several hundred women at a sit-in outside the entrance to Tehran University demanded rights revoked after the 1979 Islamic revolution. As chants and taunts arose, police and plainclothesmen surrounded the demonstrators, pushing away those trying to join the group. Officials also cut off cell phone service in the area, and challenged reporters nearby.

In the process, they briefly seized the video camera of Penn, 44, acccording to The Washington Post. He had arrived in Iran as a reporter for his friend Phil Bronstein, editor of the San Francisco Chronicle.

UPDATE -- June 16: Turns out Mr. Penn did hear the "Death to America!" chants last Friday. What meaning does he attach to them? From Reuters: Sean Penn warms to reporter's role in Tehran. (Via Little Green Footballs)

"I understand the nature of where [the chant] comes from and what its intention is," he said. "But I don't think it's productive because I think the message goes to the American people and it is interpreted very literally."

Get it? The "Death to America" chant is counterproductive not because it is an explicitly violent political message from our enemy but because Americans take it too literally. As LGF commenter PDM pointed out, when Iran claims it wants nuclear power only for "peaceful purposes," Penn will probably interpret that statement "very literally."

Also, FrontPageMagazine has more: Sean Penn: Our Man in Tehran by Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi and Elio Bonazzi. (Via Free Thoughts)

The Iranian writer Afshin Molavi knows well the politics of Sean Penn. Writing on Saturday on the blog Iran Scan, Molavi penned an accurate appraisal of the actor’s current trip, supposedly under the auspices of the San Francisco Chronicle, to cover the forthcoming election in Iran.

“I wonder how Sean Penn will see things,” Molavi wrote. “Will he honestly portray what he sees? Or will he be blinded by his hatred of President George W. Bush to fall into the trap many a good leftist falls into: defending the Islamic Republic to take a jab at Bush. Progressives in America consistently fail to side with the forces for democracy in Iran because it might just seem too, well, Wolfowitzian or, worse, Rumsfeldian."

Posted by Forkum at June 12, 2005 06:23 PM