In Jodie Foster's instantly-famous Golden Globes speech last Sunday, she asked to be remembered. To "be seen, to be understood deeply and to be not so very lonely." She thanked and honored many people as she accepted the Cecil B DeMille award for lifetime achievement -- but for some in the LGBT community, Jodie Foster didn't say the right things. Or she said too little, too late. Or she shouldn't be proud of herself for her life, because she didn't do enough to set an example for others.
Jesus, I feel nuts even typing that, because what kind of screwed-up world is it where those are the things some people took away from Jodie Foster's deeply personal speech? It seems unbelievable, and yet I have direct quotes. Quotes from "activists" who accuse Foster of being defensive, passive-aggressive, and treating her sexuality like a "joke."
On the subject of Foster's sexuality, it seemed pretty clear to me what her message was. She said she didn't feel the topic needed a press conference or a reality show, and that:
I already did my coming out about a thousand years ago back in the Stone Age, in those very quaint days when a fragile young girl would open up to trusted friends and family and co-workers and then gradually, proudly to everyone who knew her, to everyone she actually met.
… if you had been a public figure from the time that you were a toddler, if you’d had to fight for a life that felt real and honest and normal against all odds, then maybe you too might value privacy above all else.
As a whole, her speech has been characterized by some as "rambling" and "frustrating" (you can read the entire transcript here), and some are complaining that she should have said more. She didn't come right out and say LESBIAN. She didn't come out YEARS ago. Whatever she did up on that stage, she didn't do it the RIGHT way.
Diane Anderson-Minshall, executive editor of The Advocate:
It was cryptic and defensive and we started thinking it was a joke. She sounded a little passive-aggressive to a lot of LBGT activists. This woman who obviously has been afraid to come out in the public sphere has been out in her private life for decades. By our stand, you are not out until you are publicly out. Even though she danced around being a lesbian, at least it's finally done.
Michael Musto, a culture columnist in the Village Voice:
I found her speech a weirdly defensive, self-rationalizing defense of the celebrity closet. I always find it upsetting when celebrities name sexuality as the diving line in the privacy issue. I don't think you have to be Honey Boo Boo -- to name an example she gave -- to be honest and open about something personal. I think Jodie should have just said, 'Yep, I'm gay,' (…) a straightforward coming out would have been preferable to the route she took -- and by the way, I think she should have done it many years ago.
Deb Baer, on Huffington Post's Gay Voices page:
So Jodie Foster finally admitted that she's gay (though she never actually said the word) at the Golden Globes, and of course her worst nightmare -- a bazillion pieces like this one, dissecting her private life and proselytizing about her bizarre speech -- is coming true. Well, too f***ing bad, Jodie! There wouldn't be any pieces written about it now if you'd just been brave enough to come out a long time ago, like the rest of us. (…) Why am I so angry? Because I'm roughly the same age as Jodie, and yet I had the courage to come out exactly 20 years ago. ... The 'privacy' excuse is just that: An excuse."
Andrew Sullivan, Daily Beast:
What unadulterated bullshit. (…) I'm saddened she waited until others far less powerful had made the sacrifice to make that possible. And that she waited for the safest moment of all - winning a well-deserved Lifetime Achievement Award - to do so.
Boy, I don't even know what to say to all this, except I guess people are always entitled to their opinions. Even if their opinions make them sound like the biggest asshole on the planet.
From my perspective, Jodie Foster was utterly human during that speech. She was heartfelt, open but clear about her boundaries, and if it wasn't universally understood by every single person who heard it, well, she didn't owe that to anyone. She had the right to discuss her private life in whatever manner she wanted, or to avoid the subject altogether. It's not her responsibility to be the poster child for lesbians worldwide, nor is it her burden to try and follow the footstep of every activist who wants her do exactly what they chose to do.
At 50, Jodie Foster has beaten the nearly incomprehensible odds of growing from child star to a talented actress and filmmaker, while never losing a grip on the private life she so clearly values. While the negative response to her speech shows you can't win them all, personally I think Foster's doing a pretty amazing job. At everything, including having enviably sculpted arms.
What did you think about Jodie Foster's speech? Do you think she should have come out sooner?
Image via ABC