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Madonna and Sean Penn Are Back Together. Kinda. Sorta.

Posted by Scott Kearnan  November 30, 2013 05:16 PM

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In news that will surely make your National Enquirer circa 1989-reading head explode, ex-spouses Madonna and Sean Penn, who have gone down remarkably different paths with regard to their respective abilities for physical self-preservation (moisturize, Sean), are spending a lot of time together again. They've been divorced for nearly 25 years, but the couple have supposedly remained friends (to some degree, anyway) ever since. Then last year, Penn was spotted at Madonna's LA concert, his appearance accompanied by a bevy of paparazzi photos that showed him looking wistful and forlorn (or maybe just pensively compiling his grocery list for the week), and reports that he was audibly drooling over his ex-wife's MILF status. A couple months ago, Penn popped up again at the premiere of Madonna's Secret Project Revolution art film. And this week he invited Madonna to tour the work being done by J/P Haitian Relief Organization, the earthquake relief group he founded. Madonna obliged, and she and her son Rocco (by second husband, filmmaker Guy Ritchie) have been documenting their visit via Instagram.

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J/P Haitian Relief Organization included this photo of the exes in Haiti alongside a press release about the visit that is currently hosted on Madonna's official website.

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Madonna's 13-year old son Rocco shared on his Instagram this photo with Penn, the guy who, if things had worked out differently, could have been responsible for his Y chromosome. In like, a way.

Now on one hand, these recent rendezvous are the latest in a long line of small, slightly-more-than-civil gestures that the two have paid to each other over the years: from Madonna's admission in her tour documentary Truth or Dare that Penn was the "love of her life" (one of the few candid moments in what is otherwise an extraordinarily entertaining 110-minute performance of tongue-in-cheek imperiousness), to Penn's decision to make Madonna his first text after he "popped his cherry kissing a guy" (James Franco) while making the movie Milk. Earlier this year Madonna' BFF, actress Debi Mazar, also referred to Penn as Madonna's "true love" during an interview with Andy Cohen: which sort of felt like the celebrity version of asking your friend to "accidentally" spill in gym class who she hopes will ask her to prom. I'm not saying, I'm just saying.


It's almost cute. In Hollywood, "'til death do us part" often seems to be reinterpreted as, "until this arrangement becomes slightly inconvenient, at which point I'm outta here." So it's kind of sweet to imagine that these two icons in their respective fields, both preceded by steely and inscrutable public personas, secretly still carry a torch for each other two decades hence.

The problem is, things become slightly less adorable when you recall why their marriage ended: Penn's explosive temper caused him to constantly pop off at paparazzi, and eventually at Madonna — to whom he was physically abusive. The most serious allegations include that Penn once hit Madonna across the head with a baseball bat and, in a separate instance, tied her to a chair and tortured her for several hours (while slugging liquor) until she escaped.

Suddenly a little less endearing, eh?

In recent years, the relationship between Rihanna and Chris Brown has often been compared to Madonna and Sean Penn, and there are definite similarities. (Some vital differences too. But they both bear pretty textbook hallmarks of abusive relationships.) So for now, I just want to throw it out there: do you think there's more to Madonna and Sean's recent reunions than meets the eye? How would you feel if it was revealed that they were back together. And (I'm really curious about this one) do you think that their rocky relationship gets a different reaction out of people than the Rihanna-Chris Brown coupling? Should it, or not?

Sound off. Go.

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About this blog

Scott Kearnan (@thewritestuffSK) is a Boston-based writer, editor, and communications consultant focusing on lifestyle and Arts & Entertainment. He's also a part-time smart aleck and buffalo wing connoisseur. "Media Remix" is where couch potatoes meet pop culture criticism. More »

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