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Stardumb: Sean Penn

Don't call him an "activist," he's been here for years. The artist formerly known as Spicoli speaks out about sensing the war.

12:00 AM, Oct 15, 2003 • By DAVID SKINNER
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It is unclear, however, why Penn invokes Kilroy, who is mentioned outside the title of the essay only once, in the third paragraph: "Since September 11, 2001, when Kilroy left his mark, I had been concerned for the physical safety of my children . . ."

What does Penn mean? That American WWII soldiers were responsible for the terrorist attacks? That America itself was responsible? On a textual level, it's hard to see how any other interpretation could be made. But a more humane approach would suggest something else. I like the notion that the Kilroy story had gained the quality of a private nonsense joke for Penn, who then decided to use it as a title for his larkish foray into politics.

One thing's for sure, though. Woody Harrelson was here.

Stardumb Hypothesis Number 10: If you're talking to Woody Harrelson, you know you're in trouble. Woody Harrelson is overrepresented in the public comments of Stardummies.

Stardumb Hypothesis Number 11: If past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior, then past Stardummyness (Penn's trip to Baghdad) is the best predictor of future stardummyness. Obvious, but then, so is gravity.

Barbrometer: four Barbra Streisands

Grader's Comment: Sean Penn's been long overdue for a Stardumb and he came through with flying colors. That fantastic bit about going to Baghdad to "sense" what was really going on--priceless. Oh, and the ads. They were possibly the most senseless issue advocacy ads ever seen--if we interpret them as issue advocacy ads. However if we interpret the ads as an attempt to show what most high-profile political speech would be like if not for the services of ghost writers and message consultants, then the ads were a brilliant send-up of the pre-rational sludge from which human thought arises before migrating to the upper reaches of the brain, where the language center is located, to become soundbites, talk show arguments, and newspaper op-eds. Oh, and let's not forget Kilroy. You gotta hand it to Sean Penn. He makes Jeff Spicoli looks smart.

David Skinner is an assistant managing editor at The Weekly Standard.