In an interview with the Daily Telegraph this week, actor Sean Penn explained that he watches beheading videos made by the Islamic terrorist group ISIS in order to see and understand “real violence.”
“The problem is we are not seeing enough of real violence,” Penn told the paper. “We are being anesthetized when you don’t see the horror of war. In the Sixties, we grew up with the horror of Vietnam on our television screens every day. Today we have become anesthetized by political correctness. The American news channels did this with the Iraq war; they wouldn’t show what it was about, they wouldn’t show the caskets coming home.”
Of the ISIS videos, Penn added: “Uh huh, I’ve watched them. And anyone who sees them and claims that they were anesthetized by violent movies, that they weren’t horrified by what they saw, on the most primal level, is intellectually dishonest or existentially unpresent.”
Penn, currently starring in Pierre Morel’s “geriaction” movie The Gunman, also told the Telegraph that, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, he had no gripes with Clint Eastwood’s Iraq war film American Sniper.
“Here’s the thing. I don’t see the same problems with it [as others do], not because of my relationship with Clint,” Penn explained. “I don’t see the glorification. I probably go into a zone when it comes to military films, where I am assessing the technical aspects of the filmmaking more than the political message. Clint and I have had some some political discussions and he is a committed libertarian. I don’t think he is by any means a conventional Republican.”
Penn drew a parallel between Sniper and the anti-war films The Deer Hunter and Apocalypse Now, saying that even though the films are anti-war, audiences will invariably become “stimulated” by them.
“Is that an argument against Apocalypse Now and The Deer Hunter? Not to me,” Penn said. “People will react to films in different ways. Some moron with a gun might watch Taxi Driver and think he should shoot a politician. I think puritanism and sexual repression is the source of the problem. Nobody glorified violence like John Wayne, and they don’t pick on that stuff.”
Check out the rest of Penn’s interview with the Telegraph here.