The Crazy Enigma that is Sean Penn’s “Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff”

Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff, by actor-turned-writer Sean Penn, appears to encapsulate Penn’s own activism and criticism of the Trump administration. The main protagonist of the book, Bob Honey, forgoes letter-writing activism and instead turns to violence to enact change according to his ideology. Assassinating the elderly, selling septic tanks to Jehovah’s Witnesses, and rescuing imprisoned Hasidic Jews number a few of Bob Honey’s adventure which the New York Times describes as a “riddle wrapped in an enigma and cloaked in crazy.”


Though satirical in nature Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff contains references to hotel-owning billionaire President Trump: primarily in referring to its fictional president as “Mr. Landlord.” Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff even reflects on the #MeToo movement, drawing criticism from the media and critics alike due to Penn’s outspoken view of the movement as an “infantilizing” movement that “reduces rape, slut shaming, and suffrage to child’s play.” In Penn’s view, the #MeToo movement acts as a “platform” to publicly shame media stars rather than enact any real change. In an interview with Marc Maron, Penn mused, “How do you get victims to report [sexual harassment] when it happens? Those who do are heroes.”


Penn was forced to defend the fictional work after select parts of Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff were made public, treated as fact, and quickly went viral on social media. Penn tells Rolling Stone, “I think we’re in a bad state where fiction is attributed to opinion, where fiction can’t be just read as it is.” Although the criticism abounds, Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff has received acclaim from writers such as Salman Rushdie and Sarah Silverman.


Bob Honey Who Just Do stuff has been criticized for it’s literary style (described as clunky and esoteric) but that has done little to dissuade its author from the writer’s life. When asked about a sequel to Bob Honey Penn told Vogue, “Let’s just say I’ve got somethin’ cookin’.”

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