The annoying, hypocritical sanctimony of Sean Penn

Michael Arceneaux
4 min readSep 13, 2023

Sean Penn has harsh words for Will Smith over last year’s Oscars. If only he spoke as ferociously about his own history of violence.

Photo: Variety

Famous white people will not stop talking about Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars last year.

In his Variety cover story, Sean Penn expressed anger over the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ refusal to allow Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to speak at the 94th Oscars in 2022 — which swiftly shifted into a tangent about the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

On Zelensky, Penn said, “The Oscars producer thought, ‘Oh, he’s not light-hearted enough.’ Well, guess what you got instead? Will Smith!”

“I don’t know Will Smith. I met him once,” Penn added.

“He seemed very nice when I met him. He was so fucking good in King Richard. So why the fuck did you just spit on yourself and everybody else with this stupid fucking thing? Why did I go to fucking jail for what you just did? And you’re still sitting there? Why are you guys standing and applauding his worst moment as a person?”

The reporter notes that someone tried to stop Penn from continuing on but was waved away.

“This fucking bullshit wouldn’t have happened with Zelenskyy,” Penn explained. “Will Smith would never have left that chair to be part of stupid violence. It never would have happened.”

As a result, Penn says that he wanted to destroy his Oscars, noting, “I thought, well, fuck, you know? I’ll give them to Ukraine. They can be melted down to bullets they can shoot at the Russians.”

Umm, okay, weirdo.

Penn’s commitment to the Ukrainian cause is admirable to an extent, but his sanctimony about Will Smith smacking the shit out of Chris Rock for cracking one too many jokes at his wife’s offense is frustrating given his history.

“Why did I go to fucking jail for what you just did?”

No matter how anyone feels about what Will Smith did that night — for the record, he has apologized more than once now for it — it does not compare to what Sean Penn has been accused of over the years.

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Michael Arceneaux

New York Times bestselling author of “I Can’t Date Jesus” and “I Don’t Want To Die Poor.”