Actor and director Sean Penn has evolved into a globetrotting 21st century political figure making powerful documentary films that get seen and talked about and therefore impact political dialogue. Penn’s latest, Superpower, is about the Ukraine war — and its vast repercussions. The subject puts Penn in the media spotlight — especially as pockets of GOP resistance to America’s support of Ukraine grow. Below, Penn talks about the film with Chris Cuomo.
Penn has come a great distance from the moment he burst onto the cultural scene with his iconic portrayal of high school stoner and surfer dude Jeff Spicoli in Cameron Crowe‘s teen classic Fast Times at Ridgemont High. But that doesn’t mean Penn’s experience playing a disenchanted high school student who exhibited a distinct and famous lack of rigor doesn’t still inform his worldview.
Penn reverted to a high school metaphor just this weekend to describe GOP Presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, the “tech bro” who has expressed a desire for the United States to withdraw its support of Ukraine and, critics say, world order. (Ramaswamy wants to cede territory taken by Russia in eastern Ukraine in return for Moscow exiting its military alliance with China, The Hill reports.)
Describing Ramaswamy, whose views Penn considers lightweight, Penn said: “I don’t find him very interesting because he’s just like a high school student who’s impressive because he got an A in something he’ll never apply in life.”
Ramaswamy will likely revel in Penn’s diss, happy to define himself by the enemies he keeps. But Ramaswamy’s “A student” persona and its detachment from realpolitik has been criticized by his fellow Republicans too.
(Note: Penn isn’t the only iconic teen movie alum with a voice on the political stage — arch-conservative actor/economist/Nixon-speechwriter Ben Stein, who played Ferris Bueller‘s unrequited teacher, also gets a lot of facetime on TV discussing the issues of the day.)