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Posted at 9:40 AM ET, 01/12/2011

Sean Penn vs. Wyclef Jean: The Haiti Duel One Year Later

By Melissa Bell
Sean Penn Wyclef Jean
Wyclef Jean and Sean Penn in Haiti. (Photo on left: Joe Raedle/Getty Images, Photo on right: Carol Guzy/The Washington Post)

A year after the earthquake in Haiti, one question lingers: Which celebrity star was the better charity worker? Yep, Sean Penn and Wyclef Jean go toe-to-toe in our first Celebrity Face-Off:

Initial response:

SP: Following up on his rescue tour of New Orleans in the post-Hurricane Katrina days, Penn showed up in Haiti a few days after the earthquake.

WJ: Within days of the earthquake, Jean had helped raise more than $1.5 million dollars. Haitian-born, Jean became a tireless campaigner for his country.

Winner: Jean took the lead early on, thanks to his homegrown roots and his soulful music. He looked like he was in Haiti not for the camera ops, but to help out his country.


Charity organization:

SP: His charity J/P Haitian Relief Organization oversees a refugee camp, with 11,000 tents, medical personnel, a market and food dispersement. It's also working to build new schools. Last month, Penn won the Hollywood Humanitarian Award.

WJ: Under Jean's stewardship, scandals plagued his Yele Haiti charity. Financial records showed the money wound up going to costs not related to providing benefits to Haitians. Though Jean denied any wrongdoing, he stepped down as president of the foundation in August.

Winner: Penn. A leaking charity does not a rescue ship make.


Presidential election:

SP: On hearing that Jean wanted to run for president of Haiti, Penn went on CNN with a rambling tirade against the idea, saying that the musician probably had "visions of flying around the world talking to people," but Haiti need a president willing to sacrifice to the work at hand.

WJ: Jean sang a song that said Penn was too busy "sniffing cocaine" to notice when Jean visited Haiti.

Winner: Penn. The guy rambles, but he's got a point.


First-anniversary work:

SP: Penn was in Washington on Monday at the think tank Brookings Institution discussing the most desperate issues facing Haiti: "a deadly epidemic of cholera, routine sexual violence against women and girls living in refugee camps, and a national infrastructure that remains largely in shambles," according to Politics Daily.

WJ: Jean asked people to honor a moment of silence at 4:53 p.m. to pay tribute to the victim's of the earthquake. He's also releasing an album with Patti LaBelle, Sean Paul, Talib Kweli, Jill Scott and India.Arie called "Care for Haiti." The proceeds from the record will go to Haitian charities. The first single, "Better," is supposed to drop today.

Winner: Penn. I like Jean's music, but if the preview of "Better" sounds like the rest of the song, I don't have much hope for it.


For the win: Penn by a long shot. Though, really, with the state Haiti is still in, the country needs all the help it can get. So, Jean, you can have an honorable mention for trying.

By Melissa Bell  | January 12, 2011; 9:40 AM ET
Categories:  The Daily Catch  
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Next: One year in two minutes (Video)


For another take on this story

Posted by: Laura31 | January 12, 2011 11:47 AM | Report abuse

so, is the Post formenting violence by using the word duel rather than a word not associated with violence?

Posted by: RichardCollins | January 12, 2011 1:56 PM | Report abuse

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