Sunday, April 04, 2010

Kal Penn: Leaving Obama For Harold & Kumar 3

Kal Penn is not just another Democratic actor in Hollywood who supported Barack Obama in the 2008 election. After Obama won the Presidency, Kal Penn was appointed to the position of Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. To take this job, Kal Penn had to leave the show House.

Kal Penn is probably the most famous actor in the United States of Indian origin. I do not mean Native American. I mean origin of the country India. He is famous for playing the pothead Kumar in the Harold & Kumar movies. Now he has decided to leave the Obama Administration to make Harold & Kumar 3.

While I am a supporter of President Obama, I have to admit that giving a political job to an actor was probably not the best decision to make. Obama has been in office for less than two years and Kal Penn is already leaving political life to return to his acting career. I think that it does not help the Obama Administration to have placed an actor into a political position that the actor would only fill for a small period of time before the desire to return to Hollywood became too strong to resist.

In my opinion, President Obama should not place any other celebrities in political positions. While celebrities love to get involved in politics, I don’t think that many of them are willing to give up four to eight years of their lives for political positions. I think that before being offered the job, Kal Penn should have been asked to stay in the position for a certain number of years. Leaving after only two years sends the message that Kal Penn either 1) did not like the job or 2) felt that returning to Hollywood would be more rewarding.

There have been Hollywood actors who have given up years of their acting careers for politics. The two most famous cases are Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Both men became the Governor of California. Ronald Reagan later became the President of the United States, something that Arnold is not eligible to do, since he was not born as a citizen of the United States. But I think that while both of these men spent years in politics, they did so in leadership roles. Being in a leadership role as governor, a person is less likely to step away from that role than someone in a lower position. Kal Penn was not in a position of authority. I feel that he took his position out of the excitement to serve President Obama, but not with a commitment to serve for many years.

While I think that the Obama Administration should not have chosen an actor for a position within the administration that he would only serve for a short period of time, I think that Kal Penn has made the right choice to return to Hollywood and his most recognizable role. Sometimes actors spend years avoiding the film roles that made them famous in the first place, only to return to the film years, or decades later. In the early 1990s, Paul Hogan turned down millions to make Crocodile Dundee 3. His other films did not do very well at the box office. Years later, he finally made Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles. The movie probably would have done a lot better had it been released in 1991 instead of 2001.

For years, Sylvester Stallone avoided making another Rocky or Rambo movie. After making his third Rambo movie in 1988 and his fifth Rocky movie in 1990, it is fair to say that both series had enough films made to end where they did. Then Stallone had a horrible acting career in the 1990s. None of his characters were that memorable. After waiting way longer than he should have, he made the sixth and final Rocky film in 2006 (16 years after part 5). He then made a forth Rambo movie a whole 20 years after part 3. Surprisingly, both films were great. The Rocky film gave the series a respectable ending. What really surprised me was how much I loved the fourth Rambo movie. In my opinion, the fourth Rambo movie was the best action film since Gladiator.

Kal Penn must know that shunning the character which made him famous would be a bad idea. Maybe in the future, he will have some truly great film roles, but to many people, he will always be Kumar. I loved the first Harold & Kumar movie, but wasn’t very pleased with the second one. I hope that the third Harold & Kumar movie will be great. Someone else can fill Kal Penn’s role in the Obama Administration. No one else can replace Kumar.


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10:10 PM  

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