Jodie Foster went to the Golden Globes Sunday night and told America, again, that she has no intention of opening her private life to the public. GLBT activists fumed. My view is….grow up, kids.
Who has more reasons than Foster, to protect her privacy? Foster has been under the media microscope for four decades, before she was even in school. She faced extraordinary scrutiny for playing a teenage prostitute in “Taxi Driver”, and even more when a psychotic used her as an excuse for trying to kill the President, an incident which caused such an avalanche of attention that her only way out was to refuse all comment on the case, permanently. She’s been dealing with stalkers for thirty years, including one maniac who seriously intended to shoot her dead. "It was very clear to me at a young age that I had to fight for my life and that if I didn't, my life would get gobbled up and taken away from me.”
Also, coming out of the closet in 1980s America, raddled with fear of AIDS and massive waves of hate from religious conservatives, would be dangerous, and potentially a career-killer. Being an actress in Hollywood isn’t like being an actor: a huge proportion of an actress’s roles, still, involve being a man’s love interest, which would have been problematic for one of the few open lesbians at the time. And by the way, the jihad against gays hasn’t stopped – the wave of homophobia in 2004 was so powerful it helped turn the presidential election.
The GLBT movement has been hollering for decades – “society should get out of our bedrooms, let us live our lives, respect our privacy!” But some of the same people refuse to respect the privacy of other gays and lesbians, which in less generous times would be called hypocrisy. Some GLBT activists, while also demanding respect for their own privacy, have been aggressive in exposing people still in the closet, either to “win one for the cause” or for the gossip value (some rightwing extremists indulge in it too, out of sadism). Barney Frank argued that it’s okay to out someone whose work hurts the GLBT movement, but I don’t buy that, either: invading the privacy of people just because they want to invade your privacy is childish, and undermines the entire argument. And the trick here is that they only seem to target famous gay people, so they can glom onto their fame like parasites, which is one step above the paparazzi. It’s almost as though a request for privacy is a challenge.
GLBT activists also complain that Foster should be using her prominence to lead the GLBT cause. Blacks aimed the same complaints against Sidney Poitier and Sammy Davis, and anti-apartheid activists took the same shot at track star Zola Budd – they had the notion that people can be drafted into leading great political causes whether they like it or not. Actors do regularly choose social causes to support, but this is always voluntary, as it should be. Foster is a woman who is not only acting, directing and producing, but also raising two children by herself; she also has a parent with dementia. It should be up to her, not frustrated gay bloggers, to decide whether she’s going to be the Frederick Douglass of the GLBT movement. If you want someone to lead your revolution, lead it yourself. Sure, it’s harder to do without Foster’s gigantic megaphone, but revolution is never easy. And Foster’s megaphone is hers, not yours.
And for those who are still waiting for Foster to apologize for Silence of the Lambs….Buffalo Bill wasn’t gay. He was a psychopathic killer with a poodle, someone who thought he was a transsexual but wasn’t. He was a non-trans trans. Sounds like some movie goers are succumbing to, you know, stereotypes. And Foster didn’t write or direct the movie.