After interviewing El Chapo and writing a book, actor Sean Penn has decided to wade into the waters of “Peak TV” with House of Cards creator Beau Willimon’s new Hulu series, The First. To promote the show about the fictionalized first manned mission to Mars, Penn and his co-star, Natascha McElhone, spoke to The Today Show about it and many other things. Including, as Twitter soon caught wind of, the #MeToo movement, for which Penn had plenty of questionable things to say.
When asked if the growing response in Hollywood and elsewhere to the actions, known and otherwise, to media moguls like Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K. and Les Moonves had inspired The First‘s depiction of the year 2030 (in which a woman is the American president, and McElhone’s character is a Steve Jobs or Elon Musk-seque tech visionary), the actress agreed. “I don’t see that as aberrant,” she said. “I get that in TV and in a lot of our media women haven’t been depicted in that way, and I find that deeply disturbing.” Penn disagreed.
“I think it’s influenced by the things that are developing in terms of the empowerment of women who’ve been acknowledging each other and being acknowledged by men. This is a movement that was largely shouldered by a kind of receptacle of the salacious,” he explained. “Well, we don’t know what’s a fact in many of the cases. Salacious is as soon as you call something a movement that is really a series of many individual accusers, victims, accusations, some of which are unfounded.”
“The spirit of much of what has been the #MeToo movement is to divide men and women,” he added.
NBC reporter Natalie Morales said, “Women would say it’s uniting women.” Even so, Penn stuck to his guns — albeit in the third person:
“I’m gonna say that women that I talk to, not in front of a camera, that I listen to, of all walks of life, that there’s a common sense that is not represented at all in the discussion when it comes to the media discussion of it, the discussion where if Sean Penn says this, so and so’s going to attack him for saying this, because of that.”
Cue Twitter’s response.