Sean Penn’s Angry Letter to Trey Parker and Matt Stone Post-’Team America’ Is Still Hilarious 20 Years Later

Penn had no sense of humor about his parody, but the letter he penned was unintentional comedy gold
Sean Penn’s Angry Letter to Trey Parker and Matt Stone Post-’Team America’ Is Still Hilarious 20 Years Later

If Matt Damon could take his hilarious Team America: World Police portrayal on the slightly melted chin, then why couldn’t Sean Penn find a way to process his parody in the literal puppet show in a way that came across a little less high-strung?

When Trey Parker and Matt Stone set out to satirize American foreign policy and the discourse surrounding it in pop culture through the medium of marionettes, they successfully managed to offend every side of the War on Terror in their signature South Park-esque fashion. However, of all the many satire targets in Team America, no one got it nearly as rough as the self-important, sanctimonious Hollywood elite who use their platforms to preach their politics to the rabble.

Most of those politically-minded actors handled their depictions in Team America with the same grace and sense of humor as Damon. Alec Baldwin, who received arguably the worst ridicule of the bunch as the leader of the Film Actors Guild, even offered to voice himself in the film when he heard that Parker and Stone were planning to mock him mercilessly. 

Sean Penn, however, wasn’t amused by his portrayal in Team America, and he decided to voice his displeasure by sending Parker and Stone a letter that’s even more hilarious than his monologue:

“I remember a cordial hello when you guys were beginning to be famous guys around Hollywood at some party,” Penn opens the missive. “I remember several times getting a few giggles out of your humor. I remember not being bothered as you traded on my name among others to appear witty, above it all, and likable to your crowd. I never mind being of service, in satire and silliness.”

“I do mind when anybody who doesnt have a child, doesnt have a child at war, or isnt or wont be in harms way themselves, is encouraging that theres ‘no shame in not voting’ ‘if you dont know what youre talking about (Mr. Stone) without mentioning the shame of not knowing what youre talking about, and encouraging people to know,” the letter continues. "You guys are talented young guys but alas, primarily young guys. Its all well to joke about me or whomever you choose. Not so well, to encourage irresponsibility that will ultimately lead to the disembowelment, mutilation, exploitation and death of innocent people throughout the world. The vote matters to them. No one' ignorance, indcluding (sic) a couple of hip cross-dressers, is an excuse.”

The letter then concludes with a not-so-cordial, “All best, and a sincere fuck you, Sean Penn,” after which Penn adds a postscript inviting Parker and Stone to join him on one of his many Middle East war zone trips that they mocked in Team America.

Now, theres plenty to be said about Parker and Stones propensity for pushing their narrative that, on every political issue, both sides are equally bad and the only smart people are the apathetic contrarians who stay planted on every fence. Team America, however, isnt a movie about how voting is stupid or the death of innocent civilians is a big joke — no, its a movie about how global geopolitics are too complicated and nuanced for the average voter to form their opinion based on an impassioned plea from a professional actor who elected themselves to be the foremost finger-wagger of the self-righteous celebrity community.

Basically, Team America didnt make fun of voting — it just made fun of Sean Penn.


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