Seth Rogen is taking his role as a tastemaker, public figure, and social commentator seriously — in the past 10 hours he has tweeted seven pictures of cats. On Friday, the mild-mannered Canadian Jewish dreamboat (that’s right) told Stephen Colbert that he took a picture with Paul Ryan’s children but refused to take one with Ryan.
This brings up the eternal moral question argued through the ages by the likes of Socrates and Maimonides: Do you have to take a selfie with a guy who tried to rip healthcare away from millions of people so that rich people could pay fewer taxes?
What you should say when Paul Ryan asks you for a picture. @Sethrogen #LSSC pic.twitter.com/AQeJEU4QCk— The Late Show (@colbertlateshow) June 23, 2018
Our story begins, Rogen explained, when the comedian got a phone call from Mitt Romney, whose name, he speculated, must be short for ‘Mittens.’” Rogen was asked by Romney to speak at a the “Romney Retreat,” the former governor’s annual policy summit, which this year focused on topics within neuroscience. Since Rogen runs a charity for Alzheimers research and awareness, he was asked to speak. It was at the summit, he says, when he was approached by “two very young, white teenage men.” As he noted, with his typical self-aware affability, “Think how white they were if I noticed how white they were.” The two men, who Rogen said were “very nice” asked to take a picture with Rogen, who accepted, and then asked to introduce him to their dad. “I turned around and Paul Ryan was walking towards me,” said Rogen.
“My whole body puckered, as it were,” Rogen recalled. “I didn’t know what to do.” Ryan asked for a picture with the star. “I look over and his kids are standing right there, expectantly, clearly fans of mine,” said Rogen. “And I said, ‘NO WAY, MAN.’”
Rogen says once he started berating the politician in front of his teen sons, he couldn’t stop. “I said, ‘Furthermore, I hate what you’re doing to the country at this moment, and I count the days till you no longer have one iota of the power that you currently have,’” Rogen sputtered. At this point, Ryan’s kids were still present, watching.
Rogen says the interaction, rather than feeling fulfilling, left him “conflicted,” because of Ryan’s teen sons. “I don’t know how I feel. I’m glad I didn’t take a picture with Paul Ryan. I don’t know. His kids seem lovely,” he stammered, with the exact moral Jewish anguish that has so long endeared him to us.
“It’s not their fault, but at the same time they should probably learn that if they like a movie or song, the person that made that probably doesn’t like their dad very much,” he said of Ryan’s offspring.
Jenny Singer is the deputy lifestyle editor for the Forward. You can reach her at Singer@forward.com or on Twitter @jeanvaljenny