In ‘Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff,‘ celebrated actor Sean Penn pens a debut novel that uses satire to deliver an opinion-dividing commentary on the present-day social and political predicament of Americans. Not a stranger to controversy, Penn wades through the eye of the storm to deliver a commentary that can easily pass as a rage against social and political ills that he perceives are bedeviling the country. Marked by vivid descriptions, details and carefully chosen characters, the fictional work blurs the line between fiction and reality by unearthing unsubtle truths about American society. The use of mad satire allows readers to follow not only Sean Penn’s characters but also his life which are intricately intertwined with current events such as the #MeToo movement, America’s complex identity and the presidency of Donald J. Trump.
Molded around classic literary works of authors such as Hunter S. Thompson, ‘Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff ‘was first released as an audiobook in 2016. Sean Penn, who narrated the audio version as a ghostwriter known as Pappy Pariah, later decided to release the hard copy version of the novel in 2018. The complexity of American identity is best captured by the novel’s protagonist, Bob: a man sold to doing odds yet conflicting jobs. In Fletcher, Penn creates a character whose behaviors and stature mirror those of El Chapo; a Mexican drug lord he controversially interviewed. The content of Bob’s letter to Mr. Landlord reveals Penn’s unsubtle reference to President Trump. The letter, devoid of any satire beyond the names, reveals Penn’s deep-rooted feelings towards the president.
Sean Penn is an enigma and a polarizing figure. In ‘Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff,’ Penn follows this script. Beyond the enigmatic character of Bob and his outright calling for the assassination of Mr. Landlord, Penn offers his critique of the events around him. He questions the morality behind the nationwide outrage that followed the police shooting in Dallas. In his view, the media played a role in the shootings as they had pre-convicted law enforcement officers without considering existing laws.
Sean Penn discusses other current affairs such as North Korea’s precarious situation and the Las Vegas shooting. Rich in alliteration too, ‘Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff’ offers Penn a platform to criticize the Me Too movement; a movement born out of the ills in the acting industry where he made a name for himself. He berates the lack of depth in the movement’s agenda and terms it as a child’s play or toddler’s crusade.