Sean Penn recently said he is “suspicious” of the #MeToo movement and that he believes it aims to “divide men and women”.
On Monday, the actor sat down with co-star Natascha McElhone on Today to talk to Natalie Morales. The actors were there to talk about their new Hulu Series which is set in the year 2030 and features a cast prominently made up of women. McElhone was asked if the female-centric cast was influenced by the #MeToo movement, and she replied saying, “Yeah, and for me in life, that’s not unusual. I don’t see that as aberrant. 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 interjected saying, “I’d like to think that none of it was influenced by what they would call the movement of #MeToo. 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, you know, largely shouldered by a kind of receptacle of the salacious.”
Morales asked Penn what he meant by “receptacle of the salacious” and he replied saying, “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.”
Penn added later on in the interview, saying that the “spirit of what has been the #MeToo movement” has been “to divide men and women“. Even when Morales said that women felt united by the movement, Penn disagreed, saying that many of the women he had met agreed with him and that there was a “common sense that is not represented at all” in the media.
He explained, “I don’t want it to be a trend, and I’m very suspicious of a movement that gets glommed on to in great stridency and rage and without nuance. And even when people try to discuss it in a nuanced way, the nuance itself is attacked.” He said that the issue has become very black and white in the media’s representation.
Trying to explain his point of view, McElhone said, “I think what Sean was maybe alluding to is this sort of bubble of actors or people who are in magazines that have gotten a lot of attention from this. Of course it’s terrific that they’ve put a spotlight on it. But now, it’s we need to go to the places where this is happening behind closed doors, and it’s not exposed and those voices aren’t being heard.”
Penn and McElhone are starring in The First which aired on September 14.