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What Influenced Sean Penn to Write Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff?

Sean Penn is no stranger to straying away from the rails of an easy life. He is certainly someone who is unafraid to show his authentic self, even in the face of critique from public opinion. Whether traveling to Argentina to meet with then-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner or conducting a secret interview with El Chapo, he has shown an ambition to incite people to think about the events surrounding the world.

Penn is an accomplished American actor and filmmaker. He has been nominated for five Academy Awards of which he has won two, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for Milk in 2009 and Best Actor in a Leading Role for Mystic River in 2005.


However, recently Penn decided to wander outsideof the bounds of the filmmaking industry and write a book. Atria Books, an in print of Simon & Schuster, published his debut novel Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff in March 2018.

The part about staying in one’slane, I’ve always felt that I’ve rejected that… This is the thing that actually I’ve always wanted to do more than anything else. And so now, I’m doing it –writing a book – and it’s been a blast right on through. – Sean Penn


What Is Bob Honey Who Just DoStuff About?

Reflecting on morality and American culture, Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff is a satirical novel written by Sean Penn. Thebook follows a story of a former septic tank salesman turned a supposed international assassin who kills seniors with a mallet. It takes an absurdist approach to contemplate oncontroversy, divisiveness, and animosity that seems to have become asignificant part of daily life in America.


Originally published as an audiobook in 2016 just before the presidential election, the book has since been heavily edited to include references to events that have happened since. The book received mixed reviews, a lot of criticism directed at the book’s epilogue and it’shandling of the #MeToo movement. Evenwith the novel’s release date quickly approaching, the poem in the epilogue servesto indicate that Sean Penn continued to make revisions to the novel close tothe publication date.

Influences for Writing Bob HoneyWho Just Do Stuff

When asked about writers who inspired him by Rolling Stone, Sean Penn deflected to say that life itself has served as the most significant influence for his novel. Other writers have pushed Penn to find his own “freedom with words,” but current events supplied the true stimulus for his motivation to write.


Reading through the epilogue of the novel, let’s take a look at some of the recent events that influenced Penn to write Bob Honey Who Just DoStuff.

Puerto Rico 

Puerto Ricans catching hand towels,

but they have no homenor light

So let’s all just beloving

no need to scream and fight.

Still recovering from Hurricane Irma two weeks prior, on September 20, 2017, the island of Puerto Rico felt the landfall of the Category 4 Hurricane Maria. In addition to wind gusts of 109 miles per hour, heavy rain fall bogged the island with flooding and destruction.


The hurricane completely destroyed the island’s electric grid, leaving 3.4 million people without electricity. The natural disaster quickly became the largest blackout in American history and the second largest power outage in the world. Sean Penn createda non-profit for humanitarian aid in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, andfinds the response to Puerto Rice insufficient and offensive.

The power outage caused a humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico, and the response to the crisis from the American government has been heavily critiqued. Bottlenecked by bureaucracy and outdated laws, the rebuilding of the power grid in this American territory has been sluggish.


Las Vegas

At the Mandalay in Vegas,

so much terror death and shock

little men made big

by legal bump firestock.

On the night of Sunday, October 1, 2017, a gunman opened fire from the Mandalay hotel in Las Vegas on a crowd of concert-goers attending the Route 91 Harvest music festival. The gunman fired over 1,000 rounds from his hotel room, killing 58 and injuring over 400 people.


Although automatic weapons in the United States are banned, bumpstocks allow semi-automatic rifles to be fired at speeds that simulate the rate of a fully-automatic rifle. Much discussion surrounding bump stocks has takenplace since the Las Vegas shooting, with the U.S. Department of Justice announcing a plan to effectively ban them under federal law in March 2018.

So far this year, Florida, Vermont, Hawaii, Maryland, and Washington have enacted legislation to ban bump fire stocks in their respective states.

Illustration for article titled What Influenced Sean Penn to Write iBob Honey Who Just Do Stuff?em/em/i
Photo: LA Times

#MeToo Movement

And what’s with this “Me Too”?

This infantilizingterm of the day…

Is this a toddlers’ crusade?

Reducing rape, slut-shaming, and suffrage to reckless child’s play?

The Me Too movement is an international movement against sexual harassment and assault. The hashtag #MeToo spread virally on social media in October of 2017 to tell stories that demonstrate the wide-spread existence of sexual assault and harassment in the workplace and elsewhere.


Since October, the Me Too movement has helped show that sexual harassment, and not just sexual assault, is unacceptable. Many powerful figures have since been accused of both harassment and sexual assault by victims who previously felt pressured to remain quiet about their experiences.

And beyond sexual assault, the Me Too movement has forced employers to examine gender-based differences in wages and diversity efforts.In the financial industry, for example, companies have been forced to disclose specific statistics about workplace demographics. Such disclosures are helpingto speed up progress for women and minorities when it comes to work place discrimination.


What’s in the Future for Sean Penn

Having now submerged himself in the literary world, Sean Penn shows little desire to go back to film. Currently, he has no plans when it comes to acting in new works and onlya generic desire to direct a movie at some future point. He is much moreexcited about continuing to grow as an author and dedicating his efforts to writing.


When asked about another if there is a plan for a novel to follow Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff, Penn responded, “There is. Let’s just say I’ve got somethin’ cookin’.”

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