The line between good poetry and bad poetry is not only incredibly thin, it’s also quite difficult to spot. As a cautionary measure, I avoid poetry entirely – an approach I recommend to everyone. Unfortunately, I was unable to deliver this advice to Sean Penn, who decided to express his thoughts on the Me Too movement as a six-page poetic epilogue to his book, Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff. (Yes, that is the correct name of the book.)
Because I am well aware that my time on this planet is finite and I am trying to use what little of it I have to do things that make my life better and not worse, I personally did not read the book. Luckily, a reviewer at the Huffington Post did. Writer Claire Fallon kindly included an excerpt of Penn’s verse so that the rest of us don’t have to read the book:
Though warrior women
Bravely walk the walk,
Derivatives of disproportion
Draw heinous hypocrites
To their flock.
Where did all the laughs go?
Are you out there, Louis C.K.?
Once crucial conversations
Kept us on our toes;
Was it really in our interest
To trample Charlie Rose?
And what’s with this ‘Me Too’?
This infantilizing term of the day…
Is this a toddler’s crusade?
Reducing rape, slut-shaming, and suffrage to reckless child’s play?
A platform for accusation impunity?
Due process has lost its sheen?
But, fuck it, what me worry?
I’m a hero,
To Time Magazine!
You can’t really pry meaning from someone’s poetry with any real measure of objective truth but it certainly appears like he’s mourning the loss of masturbating exhibitionist Louis CK and sexual harasser Charlie Rose, while taking issue specifically with the words ‘Me Too’. Other than dismissing a movement empowering women to speak up about an ongoing culture of sexual assault and abuse in all likelihood because it’s making him a bit toey, he might also be the first person to try quote Alfred E. Neuman in a serious* artistic work.
The poem could possibly be contextualised by his ongoing legal crusade to counter claims that he assaulted Madonna with a baseball bat in 1988. The Huffington Post article itself has a correction note at the bottom that certainly has the air of ‘We were issued with a legal threat’:
Clarification: A previous version of this story indicated Penn allegedly had been abusive to Madonna when the two were married. In 2015, in a sworn affidavit filed in court as part of a defamation lawsuit Penn filed over the allegations, Madonna denied Penn had abused her.
By all accounts, the book is as bad as the poetry. I dunno man, you’re pretty good at acting, maybe stick to that.