On The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, actor and author Sean Penn weighed in on what he thinks ended the Cold War and brought the Berlin Wall crashing down in 1989. According to Penn, it had less to do with diplomacy than it did eastern society’s aspirations to be more like the West.
“You know, when the Berlin Wall came down, I think it had a lot more to do with Levi's 501s and the dream of wearing them, and The Beatles black market records than it did Gorbachev or Reagan,” Penn said.
This wasn’t just a conversation happening nearly 30 years too late. Noah asked Penn what he’s learned through his travels about America’s standing in the world. He believes that much of what changed back then came from the dream to live like those in the West and to “…take the American model.” But that’s no longer the case. Penn said, “…I would say that the respect and the aspiration that we modeled is no longer on our country. That’s not a political comment. That’s a touristic comment.”
But Penn also believes it’s not too late to gain back the world’s respect.
“I think we owe it to ourselves to get it back, and the only way we do that is show that we know how to stop fighting with each other, and really listen to each other, and really demand that our politicians do the job.”