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The False Equivalencies of Jodie Foster

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by Alonso Duralde
January 14, 2013 9:00 AM
38 Comments
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I'm still sorting out my feelings about Jodie Foster's speech at the Golden Globes, but annoyance continues to reign supreme. She's played this coy card for decades, and gotten away with it mainly because a) the media of yore were happy to enable her, particularly because of their collective fear of Foster's iron-fisted publicist Pat Kingsley and b) anyone who has a presidential assassin use you as inspiration rightfully gets a lifetime "I want my privacy" pass. 

But now that Foster's finally saying something concrete, she offers the same bullshit false equivalencies that famous closet cases always love to fall back upon. Do we know every intimate detail of the life of David Hyde-Pierce? Has Jane Lynch's life turned into a reality show? Is every private element of Neil Patrick Harris's personal business being transmitted into our homes 24/7? No.

But for Foster to imply that the only choices are refusing to come out of the closet or becoming Honey Boo Boo is at best disingenuous and at worst an insult to the many artists who have been much braver than Foster, and who have stood up and been counted at a moment in our cultural history when famous people's speaking the truth of their lives has been an essential element in the battle for equal rights.

And don't give me that "everyone comes out when they're ready" excuse; Foster, by her own admission, has been out to the people in her life for years. She has very intentionally remained publicly enigmatic, well past the point when being more forthcoming would have had the slightest impact on her private or her professional life. There was a time when having someone of her stature speak out could have made a huge difference, and she chose to spend that time being silent.

So you'll forgive me if I'm not "moved" or "impressed" by Jodie Foster's "bravery." If anything, this is too little, too late.

 

Alonso Duralde is the author of 101 Must-See Movies for Gay Men (Advocate Books) and Have Yourself a Movie Little Christmas (Limelight Editions). He is the film critic for The Wrap/Reuters and has written about film for Movieline, Salon, MSNBC.com, and HitFix, among many other publications.

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38 Comments

  • Andrew S | January 18, 2013 8:20 PMReply

    You missed the point of the speech completely. This wasn't a coming out speech because she never felt the need or desire to do that and she still doesn't. Her comments about privacy completely went over the heads of most bloggers, who don't understand the concept of privacy. You think she's famous or a public figure so therefore she has to be an example for young lesbians. But, she is setting an example! She said she's been out for years - to the people that matter to her. Her art and what she has to say in her art matters to her - and she'll continued to say what she wants to say. Not be bullied by the likes of you.

  • Mia | January 17, 2013 11:27 PMReply

    What you and some aren't getting is she brought up the Honey Boo Boo thing as a example of the extreme nature of the press and overexposure these days. It's called rhetoric. She wasn't at all denigrating people who came out before her. She was just explaining why she has been private her whole life. She said "that's not me" in regards to playing the spill-your-private-life media game. She didn't insult anyone who does. She said, "that's not me."

    It's funny how people in her community have been begging for her to come out for years. She finally does in her own way on national television and she's beaten with a club by the judgmental people in her own community! Everyone has their mountain to climb in their own way.

    Have some compassion and understanding for someone who has been in the spotlight her entire life and has had to deal with whackos, one who as you mentioned shot the President for her. She has a right to fight for a private life and only promote her work. If anything, she probably shouldn't have made the comments referencing sexuality at all because look at the vitrol you people are throwing her way when the award is really about her work. But of course you'd find a reason to complain still. She's damned if she does, damned if she doesn't.

    You people judging her for coming out on national television in her own way sure do send a bad message to others who want to come out in their own way on their own time. Your sexuality is a personal thing and you should be able to decide for yourself how you approach it.

  • SamLowry | January 17, 2013 7:20 PMReply

    Shame on anyone who thinks that celebrities aren't role models. Shame on anyone who thinks that celebrities don't have the power to change our attitudes.

    If celebrities like Foster and Travolta and Cruise had come out at the peak of their popularity and proved that gays aren't a tiny freakish part of the population that exists only in seedy bars but are instead real, likeable people that you wouldn't mind paying to see at the theater and inviting into your living room to entertain you then maybe California wouldn't have passed Prop 8.

    Gaining equality for all is a war, and it's sad to see how many people won't come out of their foxholes until they're certain the fight is over.

  • mark mcintyre | January 16, 2013 5:07 PMReply

    Wow.... every once in a while you're clicking through the internet and come across a 'piece of writing' (being generous here) that makes me think; this guy should be asking someone if they 'Want Fries with That" or pumping gas at an all-serve station rather then attempting their lot as an author. When did it become 'normal' to go on line and judge other people and their lives by one's own limited knowledge and ethnocentric viewpoint? This Duralde character has taken trolling to a new level and unfortunately is probably making some bank off of it; like all those critics before him. Those who can, teach and those who can't, criticize. Well, the one good thing that comes of this is that if I ever see a link pointing to an 'article' (again, that generosity) by this clown, I'll know to just pass on it. Shame to anyone who points to this waste of space other than as a standard bad example.

  • Jay | January 16, 2013 12:53 PMReply

    The writer here clearly has issues of his own that really needs to be dealt with; way to project your anger management failures onto Ms. Foster.

  • tomas_trent | January 15, 2013 9:48 AMReply

    Dear Mr. Alonso, if I was you I'd seriously consider, after this "thing" you've written, to be re-christened A-lousy.
    Doesn't matter that you don't want to hear the "everyone comes out when they're ready" excuse.. Like it or not, this is EXACTLY the way it is, and if miss Foster decided it was time to talk about her sexuality at 50 and during the Golden Globes, then be it. Saying that her announcement is "too little, too late", is so miopic and wrong of you; if it was THAT little, then why wasting your time writing this piece of crap and wasting the time of your readers?
    Oh, and by the way, please enlighten us.. WHEN it is not "too late"? Was Ricky Martin in time or late? What about Ellen DeGeneres? Or Ian McKellen? Please, mr. A-lousy, let us now.. entertain us with yet another piece of bad journalism...

  • SamLowry | January 15, 2013 1:00 AMReply

    I agree with Alonso on this one. How many openly gay leading men are there? None. How many openly gay leading women are there? Considering that Foster's age has pretty much taken her out of this category, none (Debate amongst yourselves just how brave it was for her to come out in the declining years of her career).

    Yet these numbers would be far different if Foster, Cruise and Travolta had come out even as late as ten years ago. Instead, they all cowered in fear, worried that coming out would end their brilliant careers, and in doing so confirming that being gay is "bad".

  • Adam | January 14, 2013 7:44 PMReply

    I find her lacking, not because of her sexuality or her wishes to maintain privacy, but because of her continued public support and friendship with a known racist, homophobe, anti-Semit, and wife-beater, Mel Gibson.

  • Dave | January 16, 2013 12:55 PM

    Please tell me when the rest of us mortals can measure up to your line of piety and perfection. You strike me as equally a "phobe" against human imperfection. Sorry to disappoint you.

  • Harold | January 14, 2013 9:08 PM

    Adam, your comment and critique of her personal friendships has really nothing to do with this article. It's not contributing anything productive to the conversation.

  • EK | January 14, 2013 7:29 PMReply

    This guy's a lousy film "critic" and an even lamer commentator. Indiewire is poorly served by his "services."

  • Rotwang | January 14, 2013 6:02 PMReply

    Get over it, Duralde. She doesn't owe you or anyone else anything. Yes, she's a public figure but she is not your property. Do you live in the wrong century? Foster is at least one thing you are not: intelligent. Oh, and she is creative while you like to apricate in reflected light. Get a decent job. Are there any dustbins around you that need emptying?

  • Margaret | January 14, 2013 3:52 PMReply

    I would like to know (ALONSO DURALDE) when you got the idea that Jodie Foster cares what you think about what she says or does. Jodie, has the right to her privacy!!! Please, get off her back. And thank you ANDREW for your words!!!!!!!

  • Lisa Marie | January 14, 2013 3:14 PMReply

    I"m sorry. I totally disagree with this author. I believe that "coming out" is a completely western, privileged way of thinking about "how to be queer" in the world. There are many ways to be 'out' and one of those includes living your life without feeling forced to share your sexuality with the public world if you choose not to. This perspective is all about participating in heteronormativity and being 'accepted', rather than just living and being. I admire women like Foster and Queen Latifah who refuse the party line - and are constantly badgered to 'come out of the closet' as if they are ashamed because they haven't made a friggin announcement to the world. They are and have been already out to everyone who is important in their lives and for me, this is what matters. Calling people cowards and belittling their choices to be self determined about their lives is hypocritical, at best coming from a community that knows what it is to be demonized. There are many ways to be queer and the notion / false dichotomy of if you are not 'out', you are then, 'closeted' is bullshit.

  • Max | January 14, 2013 2:17 PMReply

    I feel like I'm in the minority but, I liked this article. Although much of her speech was genuine, she did seem to make numerous excused for why she hadn't come out before.

  • Andrew | January 14, 2013 1:36 PMReply

    So, essentially you're telling the LGBT struggling youth that the only way to be counted as a legitimate homosexual in mainstream media is to be publicly out and visible and transparent? Are you aware that being visibly out is a privilege that not everyone is able, or willing for that matter, to bear for the rest of us? What is so cowardly about someone wanting to live their life without having to be a figurehead? In the years of her life, she lived openly to her family and friends. She has a family she's proud of. She's living the life the heteronormative tells us that we can't - yet you're of the opinion that her life is illegitimate?

    I'm proud of her because she's strong enough to tell you that she doesn't give a damn what the rest of you, in the media, have to say about her life because there's nothing abnormal about it. I applaud her for being proud of herself against what everyone tells her she should be instead, and how dare you pass judgement.

  • Angela | January 14, 2013 8:33 PM

    My thoughts exactly. She gave one of the most heartfelt, passionate speeches I've seen, and it's so great to see that she's created a life she's happy with. Way to go, Jodie Foster.

  • timothy | January 14, 2013 1:31 PMReply

    I find after reading this article I am not moved or impressed. Alonso Duralde, apparently you want to push your bitter finger in the face of someone that was enjoying "her" experience..Lame ass article for sure.

  • Bill | January 14, 2013 1:28 PMReply

    It's a good thing she has no reason to need to impress you, then.

  • False Schmalse | January 14, 2013 12:54 PMReply

    I'll forgive you, Mr Alonso Duralde, because clearly there's somethign wrong with your listening comprehension skills. Her speech may have been exactly about situations like this: a bitter blogger feels he's entitled to judge an actress and her private life.

  • Christine Loriol | January 14, 2013 12:01 PMReply

    I can still not be too late (I wish it would): this weekend ten thousands were on the streets against homosexual marriage and adotion rights and to say that "1 mum + 1 dad + children = natural". An this in France, a country who invented "liberty equality fraternity" at the time.

  • Aneesah | January 14, 2013 11:47 AMReply

    Wooooow! Insensitive, jaded, shameful article! I literally just "liked" IndieWire on Facebook, had this article in my news feed... and now I'm about to "UNLIKE" IndieWire. Why would you even publish that? In deed entitlement of opinion but really.... no cool!

  • jasper | January 14, 2013 11:41 AMReply

    well it does come as a comfort, that a phoenix unversity graduate in journalism like yourself, has enough of a conscience to allow yourself to be bother with trivial crap of a real talent, of course she was after all pointing out how people, like youself, bring in to fame the "scrapping of the Barrel people" and are leaping/hanging from trees to get a picture, asking personal questions, basically making a journalistic ass of yourselves.

    No one will ever ask you about your job. because we already know. they'd rather be a drug dealer

  • David Ehrenstein | January 14, 2013 11:21 AMReply

    SING OUT LOUISE!

    http://fablog.ehrensteinland.com/2013/01/14/lonely-jodie/

  • Scott Mendelson | January 14, 2013 11:03 AMReply

    First of all, the idea of celebrities coming out to relative indifference is a relatively new one. We've actually seen articles specifically talking about how neat it now is that celebs like Jim Parsons can come out without anyone even caring. Second of all, I would argue her climactic bit about privacy isn't so much about other well-known gay stars but about celebrities who do have their lives under a microscope, such as Kristen Stewart, whom she wrote a passionate essay in defense of late this summer when the 'cheating scandal' broke.

  • Plaything | January 14, 2013 10:45 AMReply

    I was more taken by her comment, drunk on the love of her peers and equals, that making a film together was the "most intimate thing" that humans can do. Also, her perch of superiority over honey boo boo, as if the being a child star is so much superior. As for her being a lesbian, who cares? She apparently thinks we all do, exceedingly.

  • j | January 14, 2013 10:29 AMReply

    Embarrassing piece of, pardon my French, bullshit writing. A bit humiliating to have this on indieWire's front page, no?

  • jingmei | January 14, 2013 10:15 AMReply

    This article is a piece of sick bullshit. Have read the transcript of Jodie Foster's speech. People even are just as audiences no matter men or women admire her as a marvelous human figure. This absolutely amazing respectful intelligent independent actress is awesome.

  • tederick | January 14, 2013 10:13 AMReply

    Aren't we dealing with a generational issue here, though? She's fifty years old. She didn't grow up in the world Zachary Quito grew up in. I suspect officially "coming out" is informed by a much higher incidence of personal anxiety in Foster's case - and that would be even without the Hinkley incident, which I doubt any one of us can adequately empathize with in terms of its impact on her relationship with life as a public figure.

  • No | January 14, 2013 9:49 AMReply

    It seems that some people want their politics, identities, and sexuality confirmed by Hollywood stars. I believe in the right to privacy and the right to lead one's life without encumbrances. If Ms. Foster chose not to disclose her sexual preferences, what business is it of yours or any one else's? Oh, yes. The MOVEMENT. On the other hand, I think it is wrong for the government to discriminate against gay people who want to serve their country and then force them to deny themselves. We don't need Hollywood people voicing their sexual preferences. As a straight guy I'm more impressed with the ordinary folks who are gay and come out and show us that they are our mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, uncles and aunts, the butcher, the baker, the candle stick maker.

  • michael | January 14, 2013 10:25 AM

    Do you feel the same way about straight celebs? Should they not voice their heterosexuality?

  • Rob | January 14, 2013 9:33 AMReply

    There's a difference between TV actors in sitcom ensembles and actresses who get sole above-the-title billing in studio movies. Jodie broke ground, and yes, it's up to her how she wants to do it.

  • DukeD | January 14, 2013 9:31 AMReply

    Wow, way to sound unreasonably bitter. You must lead one sad life if this story can apparently ruin your day.

  • Jonah | January 14, 2013 9:29 AMReply

    Terrible logic.

  • Kyle | January 14, 2013 9:23 AMReply

    Embarrassing response. What straight people have stood up and declared their heterosexuality at awards shows? That's the point.

  • Mia | January 17, 2013 11:30 PM

    Exactly. And Jodie Foster already publically thanked her partner years ago at another awards show. She wasn't with this partner when she won her Oscars. Then when it comes time to promote her movies, she only promotes her work. Why should she handle herself differently from any other private actor like Daniel Day Lewis?

  • Andrew | January 14, 2013 10:46 AM

    Agreed. There's plenty of straight celebrities out there that manage to keep their lives mostly private (David Letterman and Robert De Niro are the first that come to mind, but I'm sure there are many more). If a gay celebrity wants to do the same, it shouldn't be any big deal.

  • michael | January 14, 2013 10:23 AM

    Straight celebrities declare their sexuality everyday, and in a million different ways. Why would they have to declare it at an awards show?

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