Sean Penn attends the premiere of Hulu's The First in Los Angeles. Credit: JB Lacroix/Getty Images/AFP
Sean Penn attends the premiere of Hulu's The First in Los Angeles. Credit: JB Lacroix/Getty Images/AFP

Star hits out at ‘salacious’ #MeToo movement

SEAN Penn has offered up his thoughts on #MeToo, claiming the "spirit" of it is to "divide men and women".

The actor and his co-star Natascha McElhone were appearing on NBC's Today show in the US to discuss their new series The First, when talk turned to the movement against sexual harassment and abuse which has swept through Hollywood over the past year.

After McElhone suggested the show's strong female characters were influenced by #MeToo, Penn, 58, quickly disagreed.

"I'd like to think that none of it was influenced by what they call the movement of #MeToo," he 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."

 

Natascha McElhone and Sean Penn star in new series The First. Photo: JB Lacroix/Getty Images
Natascha McElhone and Sean Penn star in new series The First. Photo: JB Lacroix/Getty Images

Asked to elaborate, Penn replied, "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. The spirit of much of what has been the #MeToo movement is to divide men and women."

When Today host Natalie Morales responded by telling him that "women would say it's uniting women," Penn again disagreed.

"I'm gonna say that women that I talk to, not in front of a camera, that I listen to, of all walks of life, that there's a common sense that is not represented at all in the discussion when it comes to the media discussion of it. The discussion where if Sean Penn says this, so and so's going to attack him for saying this, because of that.

"I don't want it to be a trend, and I'm very suspicious of a movement that gets glommed onto, in great stridency and rage, and without nuance. Even when people try to discuss it in a nuanced way, the nuance itself is attacked."

The #MeToo movement kicked off in late 2017 following a series of accusations of sexual harassment and assault aimed at movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, which later spread to other high-profile figures including Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K. and Matt Lauer.



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