Sean Penn says Levi's and the Beatles brought down the Berlin Wall

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 with the aspirations of people in Eastern Europe to be more like those in 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 has learned in his travels about America’s standing in the world. He said that though much of what changed then came from the dream to live like those in the West and to “take the American model,” that’s no longer the case. “I would say that the respect and the aspiration … is no longer on our country, Penn saidThat’s not a political comment. That’s a touristic comment.”

But Penn insists 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.”

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah airs weeknights at 11 on Comedy Central.

Watch Stephen Colbert try to get Sean Penn to stop smoking:

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