Friday, April 10, 2009


Mark Hemingway's got a post up today on The Corner in which he suggests that Kal Penn apologize for a scene from Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay in which the guards rape the detainees. Penn, who recently quit acting to join the Obama administration as a liaison to the Asian community, was an active member of Obama's campaign and is currently taking graduate-level courses at Stanford University.
Hemingway does his best to seem fair-minded by saying that Penn isn't "terribly unqualified," and that he (Hemingway) is not "reflexively anti-stoner." But here's the problem: Hemingway states that he has "ZERO" problem with the film having a satirical point of view, and that "Penn has the freedom to make whatever films he likes." So let's add this up. Penn is qualified, has the freedom to make whatever movies he likes, and Hemingway recognizes satire of "the president and how he conducted the war on terror" as "completely fair game." Now, apologize.
This seems to be a fundamental example of one of the many things wrong with the conservative movement. Penn has done nothing wrong that Hemingway can point to. Penn exercised his right to appear in a movie with a satirical point of view. He's attended graduate classes in an attempt to further his education and improve himself. And now, when faced with the opportunity to serve his country at the price of a massive salary cut, he does so. Now, apologize.
Hemingway's big beef it seems is with the characterization of our US servicemen as cartoonish rapists and homophobic thugs. This, evidently, is a line satire is not allowed to cross. Even though he freely admits "the film was going for laughs," he still insists that a lot of people "would rightfully have a problem with that." Evidently people would not rightfully have a problem with the torture and murder that actually did go on there. But, whatever. Apologize.
It's entirely possible, although unclear from his post, that Hemingway isn't taking a position on this so much as he's trying to be accommodating to those who would be offended by such a thing. Hemingway concludes his post by writing, "a simple apology from Penn might go a long way here." Let's assume, based on Hemingway's vague defense/accusation wishy-washiness, that he actually doesn't think Penn did anything wrong...and that the requested apology is simply a nice gesture. Assuming that, isn't it a more intelligent tact to explain to those who "might be" offended by this why they shouldn't be offended? And even if they have good cause to be offended, shouldn't Hemingway explain why no apology is necessary?
In the end, this is just another sloppy conservative juxtaposition of ideas. You've got an actor (Hollywood elite) who gets involved in politics after besmirching the good name of the country that gave him the freedom to make the movie he made.
Apologize, Hemingway.


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