Thank God I do not have to be beautiful for a living. (I will not wear spanx. You can’t make me.) Thank God I do not have to worry that every little nuance of my life is up for public scrutiny. Thank God that I get the honor and (mostly) joy of making a living at something I not only enjoy but in which I never have to dumb-down my big ideas. (PS: Thank God for you, that you are here and that you get me!)
And thank God for Jodie Foster!
Here I was, all ready to write a love-fest post about my crushes Tina Fey and Amy Poehler co-hosting the Golden Globes. (And I’m not the only one.) They killed it, by the way. And you know what? When Girls’ Lena Dunham made that remark about getting through middle school by watching her fellow nominees? Yeah, I feel you Tina. (I am often the oldest and only married moms in a room full of young activists.) I feel you! I loved that both hosts were willing to make fun of themselves — even wearing silly get-ups and hair-squishing wigs — for the sake of a joke. And you know what? I know you were kidding, Amy, but if for some small reason you actually did go home with Jodie at the end of the night… Good for you!
And now, let’s get back to Jodie, shall we?
When I was listening to Jodie Foster speak as she accepted the Cecil B. DeMille award for a remarkable career that has already spanned 47 of her 50 years, I was smiling and crying at once. While beauty may be part of the job as an actress, I daresay Foster’s radiance never shone so brightly as it did tonight. Starting with an SNL joke, yet unabashedly acknowledging her age — “I’m 50!” — Foster went on to talk about her life and her being in ways both poetic and real.
In one deft move, Foster not only laid to rest those pesky Hollywood rumors about her sexuality, but she did so with one of the most polite, sophisticated, and brainy fuck-yous I’ve ever seen. In the same speech she acknowledged coming out, her ex-partner and co-parent of 20 years (saying, “I’m so proud of our modern family”), she said:
I already did my coming out about a thousand years ago, back in the stone age. … Now, apparently, I’m told that every celebrity is expected to honor the details of their private life with a press conference, a fragrance, and a prime-time reality show. You guys might be surprised, but I’m not Honey Boo Boo Child. … If you had been a public figure from the time that you were a toddler … then maybe you too might value privacy above all else. Privacy.
Glancing over her shoulder at the screen, she continued by saying, “I have given everything up there. That’s reality show enough.”
Just as Foster has never shied away from challenging herself or an audience with her film choices, I found it equally delightful and inspiring that the Yale graduate did not dumb-down her speech, even if some viewers might find it challenging. And while some people were left wondering if Foster was saying she was retiring (she’s not), I found it refreshing that Foster looked at this as an opportunity to intimate that even as her personal life is private (and why does she have to explain why she said she loves her mom when countless celebs mention loving their moms in speeches?), her future is a new chapter that is yet unwritten.
And I’m not the only one who appreciated it.
Within minutes Melissa Harris-Perry tweeted: Jodi Foster just did Hannah Arendt political theory as a #GoldenGlobes acceptance speech. #wow (I added the link to Arendt for you.)
And my friend Myrna tweeted: Okay, that speech right there? That was feminism. Bless you, Jodie Foster. #GoldenGlobes
What makes Foster’s speech so brilliant and inspiring is the very heart and soul behind it. As a gay, atheist mother, Foster acknowledged feeling lonely. She is an uncommon star in Hollywood that is unafraid to show her age, brains, her talent, or her spirit. Indeed, she’s perhaps an uncommon woman in a country that worships youth above age, “fame” above talent, hetero-normative coupling and parenting, Christianity and hyper-religiosity, and most of all viral screen time over quiet substance.
In her speech, Foster encouraged us to, “Love people, and stay beside them.”
And in the end, she left us with something that felt very raw and true — words we can often used to describe her performances and work.
Jodie Foster was here: I want to be seen. I want to be understood, deeply. And to not be so very lonely.