AceShowbiz - Sean Penn has slammed political correctness in Hollywood that has brought much scrutiny to some casting decisions. Speaking with Conan O'Brien on his podcast "Conan O'Brien Needs a Friend", the duo discussed backlash over casting decisions which don't represent certain people adequately.
"It brings up an interesting point," the "Milk" actor said. "Another one I think a lot about these days. Today, almost certainly I would not be permitted to be cast in that role [of Harvey Milk]. We're living in a time when, if you're playing a gay lead character, you'd have to be a gay man, or a trans character. And there have been these casting issues."
"I always find it confusing because if I do something performative that everyone else is doing, it looks almost like I'm trying to get praise for having just a moral belief, which really makes me uncomfortable," he explained.
Thinking that it's not a progress but a move backward instead, he continued, "When you have a period of evolution that certainly has an opportunity for people who have had less opportunities to move forward. That has to be supported, and yet in this pendulum swing society that we're in, you wonder at some point if only Danish Princes can play Hamlet. It is, I believe, too restrictive. People are looking for gotcha moments and to criticize."
Agreeing, O'Brien chimed in, "The nuance can get bled out of things. I get uncomfortable when I think that everyone is getting an email that says 'this is the thing that everyone should say today, especially if you're in the public eye.' "
Penn and O'Brien also addressed cancel culture in today's society. "It's ludicrous," the two-time Oscar-winning actor said. The comedian added, "What happened to 'let's talk about that now.' People can also be forgiven if they even need to be forgiven. It feels very Soviet sometimes."
The 60-year-old actor then elaborated his opinion, "When we're destroying careers like that, what are we really achieving? Or you look at politicians, I give a big nod to anyone that's willing to enter the public arena who is doing so because they give a damn."
"I've always described myself, I think I'm a 52% optimist," O'Brien explained. "I do believe that everything that's happened in the last year is going to inform us in the best way and is going to have a very valuable impact on the arts and is going to make things better and more inclusive. I believe in all that."
He added, "This whole concept of cancel culture is, 'we've found that someone did something in 1979 that is now not appropriate, they're dead to us.' "