FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Penn and El Chapo: When Hollywood Calls, Who Can Resist?

I love Hollywood – the film industry.  I really do.  In rain or shine, good or bad times, it’s given me a living off and on.  I’ve been a movie-set gofer, a bit actor (as a “native boy” in Bride of the Gorilla), an asst. film editor, a story analyst, TV show “associate producer” (nobody knows what this is), and talent agent as well as script writer.  What’s not to love?  OK, so I got blacklisted too but what the hell.

The White House is sore that actor Sean Penn got to one of the world’s most notorious killers-and-torturers, El Chapo Guzman, boss of the mushrooming Sinaloa Drug Cartel, before the immensely corrupt Mexican government got around to it.

Obama’s spokesman calls it “maddening” that entrepeneurial Sean Penn got to Guzman before the federales.  The government shouldn’t have sent Marines and soldiers after Guzman, which took months after his last pre-arranged “escape” from a Mexican prison, Obama simply should have waved a movie contract at the drug lord which would have flushed him out in seconds.

Guzman’s downfall is pure Hollywood.  Sean Penn, accompanied by a beautiful Mexican TV soap actress, goes south of the border for a Rolling Stone seven hour interview with the fugitive involving “talks to produce a movie about his life”.  Law enforcement “were able to zero in on his whereabouts through his contacts with lawyers and producers.”

Penn writes that after Guzman’s recent tunnel escape from prison “the drug lord’s attorneys were overwhelmed by overtures from Hollywood studios to produce a movie based on his life” but, Guzman is no showbiz dummy, “he decided to produce his own”.

In other words, Mexican marines, shooting it out with Guzman’s bodyguards, interrupted a classic pitch meeting.  Poor El Chapo.  Didn’t he learn anything from the fates of John Dillinger, Bonnie and Clyde and Carlos the Jackel brought down by their thirst for personal publicity?

As far as I can tell Guzman – the second most powerful Mexican next to trillionaire Carlos Slim – was the straight goods speaking to Penn about his global reach.  Bragging, but probably truthful.  “I supply more heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana than anybody else in the world (with) a fleet of submarines, airplanes, trucks and boats.”  Rival cartels like Los Zetas must go crazy with envy – as they begin setting up their own pitch meetings.

Special pleading, factual accuracy and limitless ego are all mixed up in Guzman’s interview. “Where I grew up (as a poor peasant boy) there was no other way, and there still isn’t a way to survive” except by the drug trade….”the only way to have money to buy food, to survive, is to grow poppy…”  Yes, “It’s a reality that drugs destroy,” he confessed to Penn.  But “If there was no consumption, there would be no sales.”  Who can argue?

Penn’s grinding ax probably is to legalize some drugs.

”We are the consumers…complicit in every corruption of an institution’s ability to protect” the Mexican quality of life due to “our insatiable appetite for illicit narcotics.”

Yes, Sean.  But when you make the movie who gets what money up front and at the back end and what about sequels and a franchise agreement and let’s not squabble over credits?   You’ll have to learn Spanish and gain  weight to play El Chapo.  But, hey, if Tom Cruise can play a sympathetic  Nazi officer, and Denzel a crowd-pleasing mass-killer drug kingpin, let’s go for it.

More articles by:

Clancy Sigal is a screenwriter and novelist. His latest book is Black Sunset

Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Brad Evans
What Does It Mean to Celebrate International Peace Day?
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will Their Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
Louis Proyect
Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9”: Entertaining Film, Crappy Politics
Ramzy Baroud
Why Israel Demolishes: Khan Al-Ahmar as Representation of Greater Genocide
Ben Dangl
The Zapatistas’ Dignified Rage: Revolutionary Theories and Anticapitalist Dreams of Subcommandante Marcos
Ron Jacobs
Faith, Madness, or Death
Bill Glahn
Crime Comes Knocking
Terry Heaton
Pat Robertson’s Hurricane “Miracle”
Dave Lindorff
In Montgomery County PA, It’s Often a Jury of White People
Louis Yako
From Citizens to Customers: the Corporate Customer Service Culture in America 
William Boardman
The Shame of Dianne Feinstein, the Courage of Christine Blasey Ford 
Ernie Niemi
Logging and Climate Change: Oregon is Appalachia and Timber is Our Coal
Jessicah Pierre
Nike Says “Believe in Something,” But Can It Sacrifice Something, Too?
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
Weaponized Dreams? The Curious Case of Robert Moss
Olivia Alperstein
An Environmental 9/11: the EPA’s Gutting of Methane Regulations
Ted Rall
Why Christine Ford vs. Brett Kavanaugh is a Train Wreck You Can’t Look Away From
Lauren Regan
The Day the Valves Turned: Defending the Pipeline Protesters
Ralph Nader
Questions, Questions Where are the Answers?
Binoy Kampmark
Deplatforming Germaine Greer
Raouf Halaby
It Should Not Be A He Said She Said Verdict
Robert Koehler
The Accusation That Wouldn’t Go Away
Jim Hightower
Amazon is Making Workers Tweet About How Great It is to Work There
Robby Sherwin
Rabbi, Rabbi, Where For Art Thou Rabbi?
Vern Loomis
Has Something Evil This Way Come?
Steve Baggarly
Disarm Trident Walk Ends in Georgia
Graham Peebles
Priorities of the Time: Peace
Michael Doliner
The Department of Demonization
David Yearsley
Bollocks to Brexit: the Plumber Sings
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail