According to Sean Penn, the #MeToo movement has been inspired by a “receptacle of the salacious.” In an interview with the Today show about his new Hulu series The First, Penn’s co-star Natascha McElhone discussed the show’s themes of sacrifice and power, and how it’s set in a future America with a woman president. When Natalie Morales asked if The First was inspired or impacted by the #MeToo movement, Penn disagreed. “I’d like to think that none of it was influenced by what they call the movement of #MeToo,” Penn said. “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 largely shouldered by a kind of receptacle of the salacious.”
What exactly is the “receptacle of the salacious,” Morales asked. “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 said. “The spirit of much of what has been the #MeToo movement is to divide men and women.” What’s more: The women Sean Penn talks to don’t feel represented by the #MeToo movement, according to Sean Penn. “[With] women that I talk to, not in front of a camera, that I listen to, of all walks of life,” he said, “there’s a common sense that is not represented at all in the discussion.”
Penn has been a vocal critic of the #MeToo movement, addressing it in his debut novel Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff: “Once crucial conversations / kept us on our toes / was it really in our interest to trample Charlie Rose?” Penn wrote in an epilogue that also defended Louis C.K. Whose defense will Penn jump to next?