El Chapo Speaks
January 10, 2016 7:46 AM   Subscribe

A secret visit with the most wanted man in the world. By Sean Penn
posted by CrazyLemonade (89 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
i was very surprised by this. it is in extremely poor taste, imho. a weak interview, by a celeb, with someone responsible for thousands upon thousands of deaths, instead of turning the guy in. this is in the public interest, rolling stone?

(insert some comparison between people buying that mag and buying the drugs that fuel this violence)
posted by andrewcooke at 7:53 AM on January 10, 2016 [30 favorites]


At 55 years old, I've never learned to use a laptop. Do they still make laptops? No fucking idea!

Evidently, the man's never had to hold down a real job.
posted by oxidizer at 7:55 AM on January 10, 2016 [7 favorites]


Related:

- Timeline of El Chapo’s Major Escapes and Captures [TIME]

- Sean Penn and ‘El Chapo’: What We Know [The New York Times]
Mr. Penn’s article is a cloak-and-dagger tale of a dive into the secretive world of the Mexican drug trade, and the connection the actor describes between himself and Mr. Guzmán is circuitous and shadowy.

The linchpin is a Mexican actress named Kate del Castillo, who once played the mastermind of a drug cartel in a soap opera and posted a Twitter message sympathetic to Mr. Guzmán in 2012. That tweet led to a conversation between herself and Mr. Guzmán’s lawyers and, two years later, to correspondence with the man himself. The drug lord, imprisoned at the time, wanted her to help make a movie about his life. Mr. Guzmán escaped from prison in July. Mr. Penn met Ms. del Castillo in Los Angeles some time after that through mutual friends who had gotten involved in the film project. They had come to believe that the movie would be impossible to make and, at Mr. Penn’s suggestion, opted to pursue a magazine story instead.
- Mexico Moves to Extradite Drug Kingpin Called El Chapo to the U.S. [The New York Times]
The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly, said the process could take months as it goes through the judicial system. On Saturday, the attorney general of Mexico, Arely Gómez González, said for the first time that the government took preliminary steps to proceed with Mr. Guzmán’s extradition as far back as July, shortly after his escape from prison. Mr. Guzmán’s lawyers are expected to fight extradition to the United States, where he faces at least seven indictments in federal courts on charges of drug trafficking and murder.
- El Chapo was the world’s most wanted drug lord. But has his brutal reign finally come to an end? [The Guardian]
If El Chapo remains in a Mexican prison, many will continue to believe he is running everything from his cell. But the cartel was always so much bigger than the one man. He was just the figurehead. There are a whole list of others already lined up to pick up the reins, to seize their slice of the lucrative business. Some names we already know, others will be seeing their chance. The battle to succeed will no doubt produce the next set of bodies on the streets. Again, this is all the show of the war on drugs. The only true barometer of the impact of El Chapo’s imprisonment is the price of drugs on the streets. There may be a spike for a day or two but that has little to do with supply, which will no doubt continue as normal. Just as the death of Escobar did little more than change the supply routes, so it will be with the renewed capture of El Chapo Guzmán.
posted by Fizz at 7:56 AM on January 10, 2016 [9 favorites]


At 55 years old, I've never learned to use a laptop. Do they still make laptops? No fucking idea!

Oh Sean, you're so cute!
posted by chavenet at 7:58 AM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


I guess Rolling Stone is trying to out-Vice Vice now.
posted by spilon at 8:02 AM on January 10, 2016 [12 favorites]


Mr. Penn is a marvelous actor.
posted by allthinky at 8:06 AM on January 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


A Tweet that just scrolled through my time-line.
While Sean Penn was drinking tequila with El Chapo, this is what happens to real journalists reporting on cartels. https://t.co/qXFHfpiZTl— Stephen Losey (@StephenLosey) January 10, 2016

posted by Fizz at 8:08 AM on January 10, 2016 [55 favorites]


Finally a respite from the cyber technology that’s been sizzling my brain and soul.

This article is quite difficult to read.
posted by RubixsQube at 8:08 AM on January 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


Thank god. I was afraid FoxNews and talk radio would have nothing new to piss and fume about this week. Are there any pictures of Penn with Hillary or Obama they could use to "link" them with El Chapo?
posted by Thorzdad at 8:09 AM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Sean Penn is full of shit ... I mean 'traveler's flatulence'.
posted by dhruva at 8:11 AM on January 10, 2016 [7 favorites]


Politicians and governments around the world consistently make deals or hang out with all kinds of monstrous individuals, drug-lords, despots, dictators, etc. I'm not naive about the reality of how the world works. That being said, it still feels kind of gross that Sean Penn is sitting down with 'El Chapo' and having a few drinks and using this interview to sell more magazines for Rolling Stone. I keep thinking about families who have suffered a loss because of this individual. I doubt that they'd appreciate that image of Sean Penn shaking hands with 'El Chapo'. Also, the article is just written in a weird way.
posted by Fizz at 8:14 AM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Damnit. Was just crafting this post.

Thanks for the extra links Fizz! I checked last night and then again this morning to see if someone had posted this. I couldn't add much context to the post because the keyboard to my laptop stopped working for some reason. Made the post using just copy-paste.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 8:14 AM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


And after all that, the questions are laughable.
posted by dhruva at 8:24 AM on January 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


*1982 me sits in a theater*
"That was awesome! The guy that played Jeff Spicoli was hilarious! 'Hey bud! Let's party!'"
*2016 me arrives in time machine*
"Wow, you got fat!"
"Shut the fuck up. Great movie, yeah? Let me tell you how Jeff Spicoli helps capture a criminal drug lord on the run from worldwide authorities."
"Wow! In the future, is he like a superhero or something?"
"Not exactly. Good actor. Kind of a fuckhead. Oh, and he beats his wife, Madonna, but we all seem to forget about that."
"Who's Madonna?"
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:29 AM on January 10, 2016 [11 favorites]


This article is quite difficult to read.

I had to stop at "Espinoza is the owl who flies among falcons."
posted by Aizkolari at 8:31 AM on January 10, 2016 [8 favorites]


Reminds me so much of this episode of Documentary Now!

What do you call it when the parody comes out before the real event?
posted by maggiemaggie at 8:35 AM on January 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


rolling stone sent a domestic abuser who can't write to interview a drug lord who they gave editorial control to. concerns about how fox news might spin it seem to small next to all the failures that led to this getting printed.
posted by nadawi at 8:37 AM on January 10, 2016 [69 favorites]


Sean Penn is a garbage human.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:39 AM on January 10, 2016 [15 favorites]


Can't wait for the Penn/Chapo vs. Rodman/Kim tag-team match at Wrestlemania.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:39 AM on January 10, 2016 [15 favorites]


Well, I tried to read this, but what a terrible fucking writer.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 8:53 AM on January 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


He's handsome, lean and smartly dressed, with a wristwatch that might be of more value than the money housed by the central banks of most nation-states.

See it's the details. Do you think Alex Jones would have picked up on that one?
posted by bukvich at 8:56 AM on January 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


You know when right wing artists go full fearful-bigot in their middle-age? Spewing idiocy in the guise of "common sense" fueled by their own hype?

This is the left-wing version.
posted by fullerine at 8:58 AM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


The sword is sometimes mightier.
posted by davebush at 8:59 AM on January 10, 2016 [12 favorites]


Yeah, I love Sean Penn's movies, he's an excellent director and actor, but he writes like an 11th grader who has heard nothing but compliments on his writing.
posted by nevercalm at 9:09 AM on January 10, 2016 [11 favorites]


Also somebody would be doing a favor if they could get all the way through it and post a succint TL;DR, because I am fascinated by this subject and the dull crap writing has totally zapped my attention span.
posted by bukvich at 9:10 AM on January 10, 2016


Sean Penn wrote a fairly interesting article about Sean Penn. You sure learn a lot about Sean Penn in this article by Sean Penn.

El Chapo and Kate del Castillo made appearances. But let's not kid ourselves.
posted by veggieboy at 9:15 AM on January 10, 2016 [12 favorites]


tl;dr: Sean Penn, like, totally got to interview El Chapo! They met in person to arrange a real interview, but then stuff happened, so instead the dude sent a video reply to questions Sean texted, with answers consisting entirely of platitudes and evasions. (But somebody presumably needed to justify the expense account, so they printed it anyway.)

To skip to the actual "interview", search in the page for "How was your childhood?"
posted by Shmuel510 at 9:15 AM on January 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


rolling stone sent a domestic abuser who can't write to interview a drug lord who they gave editorial control to. concerns about how fox news might spin it seem to small next to all the failures that led to this getting printed.

Do they not have some kind of ethical review system? I mean, it's not like they haven't been through the wringer recently or anything like that.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:20 AM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


The couldn't send a ghostwriter along to clean this up? Who lets celebrity writers actually write? You're supposed to let them talk/ask the questions, and give them the byline, but let someone who has written a coherent full length article before do the real work before publication.

Although maybe that's harder to do when you've already ceded editorial approval to the interview subject.

Astounding lack of journalistic integrity in service of winning the advertising cycle.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:28 AM on January 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


me: oh metafilter please stop exaggerating how badly written this article is
article: *is read by me*
me: oh metafilter if anything you have understated the badness
posted by poffin boffin at 9:30 AM on January 10, 2016 [72 favorites]


To focus on the awful writing is to miss the forest for the trees. Mere bad writing is commonplace and forgivable. If it were a shining example of journalistic style it would still be Sean Penn trying to buy what he apparently thinks is real-life coolness and street cred, by fellating a drug lord. It's not just embarrassing, it's genuinely shameful.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 9:40 AM on January 10, 2016 [9 favorites]


So far these first 25 posts have set a record for initial responses to a Metafilter FPP saying simply: this is bad writing. And it is. Exceptionally mediocre. The premise of movie star-meets-drug lord is a pretty uninteresting trope to begin with, and the writing does nothing to redeem the low-concept premise. If anyone but Sean Penn or El Chapo had a tl;dr response to this, I'd be surprised
posted by kozad at 9:40 AM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm seeing in reports on El Chapo's latest capture that Mexican authorities are saying the Sean Penn visit is how they found him. Being a terrible writer might be the least of Penn's worries right now
posted by thecjm at 9:41 AM on January 10, 2016 [18 favorites]


I'm seeing in reports on El Chapo's latest capture that Mexican authorities are saying the Sean Penn visit is how they found him.

What *is* being widely reported―more in US/international press than in Mexico, actually―is that it was Chapo's desire for a biopic that was his downfall this time.

That story is almost certainly a strategic lie in order to protect the real sources and methods for tracking him down. I would bet a lot of money against it, if there were a betting market. It basically makes no sense temporally (this interview in the fall, his capture in January) and reeks of a morality play. But it sounds good from afar, for sure.

Also, as a note to the fall-out from Chapo's arrest, there were significant gun battles in Culiacán, Sinaloa on Friday that did not make the news. Chapo's arrest took place in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, which is not all that close.

It's still unclear whether the Culiacán fighting was (a) military operations as part of El Chapo's capture, (b) other military operations against the Sinaloa cartel, (c) whether they were cartel battles unrelated to the arrest, or (d) cartel infighting. Note that the Mexican military tends not to prioritize civilians in their domestic operations.

That they're not in the press generally signifies that the cartel doesn't want them in the press. For whatever it's worth, I personally think (d) is the *least* likely.
posted by migrantology at 9:43 AM on January 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


I saw the photo of El Chapo's capture on Reddit and thought someone had photoshopped him into some shitty video game. I mean, the lightning, the poor interior design and his overall ghoulish apparence looks hilariously unreal.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 10:05 AM on January 10, 2016 [8 favorites]


This has been such an interesting turn of events, reading about this since yesterday has been enthralling. El Chapo is re-arrested, he's going to stay in the same prison he escaped from, he wanted a biopic to be made of him and he wanted to be involved with it, that helped authorities track him down (or made it easier), Sean Penn. Bizarre, I think, is the best word to use.

I couldn't, for the life of me, get through Sean Penn's article. It was like chewing on marbles, that first paragraph alone left my head spinning. Although I like that El Chapo got to read through the drivel and didn't ask for any changes.

The interview part (scroll way, WAY down) is a lot more interesting. You get to see a drug kingpin use the same excuses for violence including: I'm only defending myself, I don't consider myself a violent person, and do I start trouble? Never.
posted by Neronomius at 10:05 AM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm seeing in reports on El Chapo's latest capture that Mexican authorities are saying the Sean Penn visit is how they found him. Being a terrible writer might be the least of Penn's worries right now

Ordering a pizza on El Chapo's time was a really bad idea
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 10:07 AM on January 10, 2016 [8 favorites]


I guess Mr. Penn got bored with writing badly about the post-2010 Haiti earthquake relief efforts.
posted by blucevalo at 10:12 AM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Neronomius: "Although I like that El Chapo got to read through the drivel and didn't ask for any changes."

Indeed, he'd rather go back to jail than read it all the way through!
posted by chavenet at 10:17 AM on January 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


guys what if Sean Penn is actually a secret agent and has been all along

a sleeper agent brought up in Hollywood to bring it down- the backstory of his dad being blacklisted totally fits into that scenario

only along the way he got used to the fame and fortune and went rogue

but now in his sunset years he's regretting that he betrayed his roots, his family, his government, his country

and decided the only way to atone was to bring down. . . El Chapo

Secret Agent Penn. . .Secret Agent Penn
posted by barchan at 10:23 AM on January 10, 2016 [8 favorites]


The crazy thing about a gigantic drug cartel is that they are ultimately responsible for no more deaths and misery in the world than any other large corporation. Which isn't to excuse their actions, but to indict the duPont's, Pfizer's and Exxon's.
posted by maxwelton at 10:24 AM on January 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


"What are you doing?"
"Havin' some pizza and learnin' about Mexico."
posted by jonmc at 10:39 AM on January 10, 2016 [7 favorites]


Too much Penn, not enough eraser.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:46 AM on January 10, 2016 [18 favorites]


Finally a respite from the cyber technology that's been sizzling my brain and soul.

This is the best thing i've ever read
posted by Greg Nog at 10:50 AM on January 10, 2016 [10 favorites]


As a Mexican, I don't know what is worse: the arrogance of Sean Penn and Kate del Castillo or the disingenuous answers of Joaquín Guzmán:

"No, no, señor, I'm an humble working man, I don't want any problems with anybody".

Fuck them.
posted by clearlydemon at 10:51 AM on January 10, 2016 [6 favorites]




The part where El Chapo is saying good night and Sean Penn farts and El Chapo is a gentleman about it is sublime:

"In a narrow, dark passage between ours and an adjacent bungalow, Chapo puts his arm over my shoulder and renews his request that I see him in eight days. "I'll be saying goodbye now," he says. At this moment, I expel a minor traveler's flatulence (sorry), and with it, I experience the same chivalry he'd offered when putting Kate to bed, as he pretends not to notice. We escape its subtle brume, and I join my colleagues inside the bungalow."
posted by jeweled accumulation at 11:05 AM on January 10, 2016 [12 favorites]


I remember Sean Penn inexplicably Skyping into this tribute to Christopher Hitchens (at about 8:45). His little contribution was cut short after he took a big puff on a cigarette, which I figure is not allowed on British television. I have no idea what relation he had to Christopher or whether they even met.
posted by adept256 at 11:06 AM on January 10, 2016


I don't know about Madonna, but what he did to Steve Dallas was unforgivable understandable forgivable.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 11:07 AM on January 10, 2016 [9 favorites]


This is what happens when you grow up in Malibu, acting all hard and making people leave your private beach.

Tough stuff.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:18 AM on January 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


The Pee Bee Sss had a great documentary on El Chapo.

Maybe Seans triangulation of stars and death helped in Guzmans' capture, unwittingly of course.
posted by clavdivs at 11:19 AM on January 10, 2016


Ah also worth remembering that Sean Penn was the one who made that stupid green card comment when Iñarittu got the Oscar.
posted by dhruva at 11:25 AM on January 10, 2016


I have a theory that this entire article is an excessively complicated way for Sean Penn to drop hints that he wanted a fabulous wristwatch for Christmas.
posted by Dr. Zira at 11:35 AM on January 10, 2016 [3 favorites]




Ah also worth remembering that Sean Penn was the one who made that stupid green card comment when Iñarittu got the Oscar.

Also worth remembering that Penn and Iñarritu are old friends and that Penn starred in Iñarritu's English-language debut, 21 Grams, and helped him establish himself in Hollywood, and that sometimes, inside jokes don't translate well on TV.
posted by alexoscar at 11:35 AM on January 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


That may be, but it shows his disregard for Mexican sentiments.
posted by dhruva at 11:49 AM on January 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


If Hunter S. Thompson had pulled this stunt, no one would have blinked. Oh, and it would have been the 1970s. Plus, Thompson could write. Penn lost my attention in the first sentence.

And... Rolling Stone lost their street cred a very long time ago. But then again, we weren't going to mention credibility :::fucknaw::::
posted by datawrangler at 12:18 PM on January 10, 2016


This is one of the few redeeming aspects of this whole mess.


Some background.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:28 PM on January 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


Mod note: A few comments deleted. Let's not get into "did Sean Penn abuse Madonna when they were married many years ago", it's a derail and will run away with this thread, when this current article/situation isn't about that.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:41 PM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Mexican authorities want to question Sean Penn over El Chapo secret meeting. [The Telegraph]
While there was criticism of Penn in the United States for interviewing a wanted fugitive, the prospect of official action appeared to come from Mexico. An unnamed official told AFP that Penn and Kate del Castillo, a Mexican actress who brokered the interview, were wanted for questioning "to determine responsibilities". It was unclear whether they paid had committed a crime but the agency quoted a second official as saying: "They're not journalists."
posted by Fizz at 12:54 PM on January 10, 2016


“Are we, the American public, not indeed complicit in what we demonize?” Penn writes. “We are the consumers, and as such, we are complicit in every murder, and in every corruption of an institution’s ability to protect the quality of life for citizens of Mexico and the United States that comes as a result of our insatiable appetite for illicit narcotics.”

Good job on that 'impartiality' thing, Sean.

Journalism with a small 'j'.
posted by dfm500 at 1:04 PM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think people are a little too busy hating on Sean Penn to see what he was trying, if not very skillfully, to do. And while it probably wouldn't have helped the florid writing, don't forget that Penn didn't get to do his real interview because the heat came down, and he had to do the stupid video thing instead, which he himself said was not what he had in mind.

If you look at the questions Penn asked, though, it's obvious that he was trying to place El Chapo as a human being. It's not helpful to think of such people as monsters; nobody thinks of themselves as a monster. He wanted to show what kind of human being El Chapo is and what kind he thinks he is. And there were some interesting things in there that make me wish he had gotten his two-day interview with a little give and take.

I get a strong sense that El Chapo wants to do a Bugsy Siegel, but for him it's too late for that. He laments that he can't invest in more legitimate enterprises because of where he's coming from. He's stuck. But he doesn't complain about it; he just notes that it's the situation. If he hadn't gotten into drugs he'd still be drawing pretend pesos. Drugs are the only thing the world wanted from him, so he provided drugs and did a damn good job of it thank you very much. He loves his family and tries to treat his associates decently. But because it's how the business works he will fuck up your shit if he has to.

And of course Penn only got the interview because he is Sean Penn and because El Chapo wants to be Bugsy Siegel. It's fine to whine that Penn isn't a real journalist but the fact is no real journalist would have gotten face time with El Chapo. Penn traded shamelessly on his own celebrity and it worked. It feels like he would have done a much better interview and that El Chapo would probably have been willing to oblige him if he had been able to do the other two days. As it is he got a meet-n-greet and video dating questionnaire reply, which is more than anybody else has been able to get. And I don't think Penn was being all that hyperbolic about the danger he was putting himself in by trying this. He might be a poor writer and not that smart but you can't say he's a coward. He had an opportunity nobody else was going to get and he took it even though he wasn't sure he wouldn't end up with a bullet in him for his effort.
posted by Bringer Tom at 1:18 PM on January 10, 2016 [9 favorites]


Fair enough to badmouth Penn...and yes, Guzman is a horrible man in all the shit he has foisted off on the world. But his big market is the US, and just perhaps some of our addiction issues and our "fight on drugs" needs to be seen in the context of Guzman's empire. Further, when Congress tried to reform widespread use of oxycontin, which has led to the use of heroin in so many states, BIG PHARM LOBBYISTS had the legislation killed.
posted by Postroad at 1:40 PM on January 10, 2016




If Hunter S. Thompson had pulled this stunt, no one would have blinked. Oh, and it would have been the 1970s.

Hunter S. Thompson had an active, often explosively expressed social conscience. He would have called out Guzman for what he is: a brutal killer, and no hero. For some, there's a seductive machismo about the druglords, which Penn is obviously captured by. For the people who have to deal with the reality of what they have done to Mexico, with the carnage and the bodies and the torture and corruption-- they have a different take. Penn doesn't know what he's talking about, and his fantasies of danger and wealth (the wristwatch! the guns!) are despicable.
posted by jokeefe at 2:06 PM on January 10, 2016 [19 favorites]


On the other hand, I think Guzmán will eventually see his dream realized when Charlie Kaufman writes and produces a film based on the incident, starring Benicio del Toro as El Chapo, Nic Cage as Sean Penn, Natalie Portman as Kate del Castillo, and John Malkovich as John Malkovich.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:08 PM on January 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


This may be my favorite part of the article:

How much money will you make writing this article?" he asks. I answer that when I do journalism, I take no payment.

In the Lin-Manuel Miranda treatment of this story, Sean Penn will spin around on stage singing "I'm doing journalism......Wheeeee!"
posted by Dr. Zira at 3:52 PM on January 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


When I do journalism, I get very little payment, despite my Premack Award. So at least me and Sean Penn have that in common.
posted by maxsparber at 4:00 PM on January 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


Drugs are the only thing the world wanted from him

At the end, his victims certainly wanted mercy from him. Not drugs. Mercy.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:02 PM on January 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


“Sean Penn is not someone I spend a lot of time thinking about,” the Florida senator said. “I didn't even know he was still around. I think he made movies a long time ago or something."

--Marco Rubio
posted by valkane at 4:06 PM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Premack Award? Is that a little statuette shaped like Garrison Keillor?
posted by valkane at 4:10 PM on January 10, 2016


Not drugs. Mercy.

Well nobody needed mercy from him until he was well into the drug biz. The point is that he didn't have the option to become an actor or a computer programmer. He took the only option he saw in the world where he was born, and it was a cruel and terrible option but the alternative was to be poor and starve. His misfortune is that he's not Bugsy Siegel, he's Scarface. He's too deep into it to extract himself to a nice casino and entertain celebs like Penn in a more civilized manner. I have to credit the man that he doesn't seem to have a gram of self-pity in him about this.
posted by Bringer Tom at 4:18 PM on January 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


Christ, what assholes.
posted by BlahLaLa at 4:18 PM on January 10, 2016


Everything in Minnesota is at least a little bit shaped like Garrison.
posted by maxsparber at 4:21 PM on January 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


He shook the guys hand. What, is he gonna tell his kids, later, "look, here's daddy shaking hands with one of the biggest murderers of the 21st century."

I mean, you could arguably say the same thing about a picture of him shaking hands with a president.

I think this is like Sean Penn's scientology. He needs to be in important places, doing important things, otherwise his conscience can't rectify how he has become so rich at playacting. Scientology is a balm to Tom Cruise. It gives him science reasons for living better than 99% of the rest of the world. Sean needs a little stronger medicine. His conscience demands that he be as important as his money seems to make him.

Bono suffers from the same guilt. I'm not saying these people are wrong when they do charity, it's just that sometimes, it's not really charity at all. It's massive rationalization.
posted by valkane at 4:32 PM on January 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


The crazy thing about a gigantic drug cartel is that they are ultimately responsible for no more deaths and misery in the world than any other large corporation. Which isn't to excuse their actions, but to indict the duPont's, Pfizer's and Exxon's.

This is just ridiculously sweeping.

ANY other large corporation? No.

The drug epidemic and the gang wars that go with it make it one of the more devastating industries world wide. Tobacco, alcohol, and fossil fuel companies can keep up with misery I guess. Fossil fuels might be the worse, long term unless that issue can be contained and mitigated. Many other large corporations aren't even close. Yes, asbestos, yes, various issues of moral blindness and immoral actions. But not the same as drug cartels, and not all corporations. The drug wars have killed 60-100k people in Mexico alone in a decade. Plus the addictions and overdoses.

Even the ones you listed - Pfizer might be dubious, but you can also argue that they provided most of the mass produced penicillin in the 40s, which saved more than a few lives. There's not really a moral equivalence.
posted by C.A.S. at 5:21 PM on January 10, 2016


The crazy thing about a gigantic drug cartel is that they are ultimately responsible for no more deaths and misery in the world than any other large corporation.

Not Ultimately, but Penultimately. The Cartels make the death and misery, just like Al Capone did. But The War On Drugs and The Prohibition, and the politicians and voters who support these moral crusades, are the ones who are ultimately responsible.
posted by ovvl at 5:45 PM on January 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


C.A.S., yes, it was ridiculously sweeping, mea culpa.

But Americans have seemingly insatiable desires which we are seemingly powerless to deny ourselves. This conflicts with our ridiculous Puritanical streak. America's history is essentially one long exercise of trying to "solve" social "problems" (drug use, say) with technical solutions (the war on drugs).

What we really do with these stupid experiments is foist a world of misery onto other communities across the world. This is true for drugs, and is true when the things we have recognized the value of (say, protected environments) runs afoul of a more primary need (cheap trinkets or gasoline).

There is no way to legitimately argue that legalizing (and regulating the production of) drugs, wouldn't instantly have the El Chapos of the world back to drawing pesos, and cost a tiny fraction of what we pay, monetarily and socially, for the "war on drugs". Hell, we already pay to support those who become addicts, maybe if it was legal we could do so in a humane way instead of via prosecutors, prisons and police.

It's astonishing how indelible the putrid, laughable stamp of the Puritans has proven to be.
posted by maxwelton at 7:55 PM on January 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


1. Sean Penn did not do a great job, but he did perform an act of journalism that was not likely within the capabilities of other journalists.

2. The insistent, snarky need to go visiting to other people's unstated intentions is poisoning the discourse faster than bad Sean Penn journalism, and only reveals things about the visitor, not Sean Penn.

3. No editorial changes were made at Guzman's behest, but the idea that a reporter should never share unpublished work, and that they've definitely gotten it 100% right and factual on their own is silly, and protects egos and narratives more than it does any kind of treasured nonexistent purity; see also the false insistence on objectivity, a laughably childish concept when it comes to storytelling monkeys.

4. Seeing New York Times reporters get snippy about point #3 on Twitter is enough irony to stave off anemia for the rest of my life. This is a publication that allowed politicians to edit quotes into what they wished they'd said prior to publication, until the paper made it policy not to allow this anymore in 2012. Same publication that sat on a pretty huge story that made the Bush administration look shitty for thirteen months, at the behest of that same administration.

5. A ton of the criticism on Twitter reeked of professional jealosy, and felt similar to the reactions of many journalists to Greenwald when he broke the Snowden story. Shit was unseemly.

6. Sean Penn didn't do a great job, but he did a job, so ok.
Edit:
7. Literary demigods Graham Greene and GG Marquez were both personal, close friends with military dictators. This isnt't going to sully Penn's reputation long-term.
posted by turntraitor at 9:26 PM on January 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


LA Times: "Mexican navy officials have confirmed that it was a neighbor’s tip that led to identifying Guzman’s location, but neither they nor U.S. officials discussed it publicly in more detail. Vigil’s account was based on conversations with those closely tied to the investigation.

According to his sources, electronic surveillance of Penn at Guzman’s hideaway, at least after he arrived in Mexico, was not what led Mexican authorities to discover the kingpin’s whereabouts."

Called it. :-)
posted by migrantology at 10:01 PM on January 10, 2016


1. Sean Penn did not do a great job, but he did perform an act of journalism that was not likely within the capabilities of other journalists.

True. Journalists would not go to the interview of their lives without a pencil or a notebook. That would literally not be in their capabilities.
posted by zachlipton at 3:48 AM on January 11, 2016 [3 favorites]


No editorial changes were made at Guzman's behest...

Yeah, but there is merit to the concern that the condition casts a shadow over the article's writing and editing. That is a lot of time and expense to spend on a piece that doesn't get published; and whatever Penn might claim (probably truthfully) about having the time and expense to spare, it strains credibility to think he wouldn't have been supremely disappointed if the writing process had ended in a standoff that never saw the light of day.

I agree with your other points.
posted by cribcage at 5:07 AM on January 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


Good to see Rolling Stone finally shoring up their reputation
posted by gottabefunky at 9:26 AM on January 11, 2016


Weird, how this whole episode is like a...movie
posted by gottabefunky at 9:28 AM on January 11, 2016


...and take a fond last look before tucking it back into my pants

I think that sums it up.
posted by inertia at 11:42 AM on January 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


I find it disturbing that so much of the comments are focused on the bad writing. As others have mentioned, forest for the trees.
Penn's attempt here should at least be getting us to ask what happens to all those peasants in the jungle who feel the wrath of American trained Mexican Marines assulting their villages in American made black hawk helicopters? It seemed that was what he was attempting to do, just executed very poorly.

Somone mentioned up thread about equivalency between cartels and all corporations. While there are plenty of corporations with blood on thier hands (how quickly we forget you HSBC) and plenty with none, El Chapo and Escobar don't exist without first world money on the demand side for the drugs and US tax dollars on the interdiction side. Its fine to call El Chapo a murder, but any of us Americans who feel its ok to say that without acknowledging how our Western Hemisphere policy has been in bed with men like him for over 100 years is the height of hypocrisy.
posted by herda05 at 8:33 PM on January 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


The 15 minute video of the assault on el Chapo's house is way more riveting than any action movie. (Spoiler alert: Guzman escaped through the sewer but was caught a short while later.)
posted by Dip Flash at 9:40 PM on January 11, 2016




mario vargas llosa (who writes an opinion column in el pais, which i imagine is syndicated across many spanish language newspapers round the world - certainly my local rag) wrote about this. obviously the article is in spanish, but for those that can't read that the title translates as "circus and journalism".

he recommends this article (in english), by don wislow, who is surprised that the self-identified "journalist" sean penn didn't care to ask chapo guzman about theose that were killed and maimed for investigating guzman.
posted by andrewcooke at 5:42 AM on January 24, 2016


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