The Other Charlotte has a wonderful post on “Hanoi” Jane Fonda, who apologizes in her new auto-bio for posing in 1972 atop North Vietnamese anti-aircraft guns trained on U.S. pilots but who still seems to regard herself as center of the universe. (See TOC’s take here, below today.)
My own take on Jane Fonda is this: Isn’t is strange that, for a self-proclaimed feminist, she’s spent her entire life under the thumb of one man or other?
First there was Husband No. 1, louche French filmmaker Roger Vadim, who had Jane doing threesomes and even screening the prostitutes who made up the other slice of bread in the Vadim sex-sandwich.
Then there was Husband No. 2, New Lefty Tom Hayden, who got Jane into the Get Outta ‘Nam thing–and also had her filming Hanoi-ac movies and making workout tapes in order to bankroll his seat in the California legislature and an array of “progressive” causes hand-picked by him. According to this profile of Jane in the Washington Post, Tom was just about as hard to please when it came to left-wingery as Vadim had been when it came to kinky sex:
“Her bulimia subsided [Me: Yes, in her pre-workout days, Jane kept her dazzling size-4 figure by blowing a lot of lunch]. But there was trouble with Hayden, whom she portrays as having difficulty with her huge celebrity — especially after she starred in ‘Coming Home,’ the 1978 feature film about U.S. soldiers and Vietnam that would win her a second Best Actress Oscar. The film is memorable in part for the touching and explicit sex scene between Fonda and actor Jon Voight, who scored a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of a paralyzed vet.
“Hayden had hoped the film would tell more about Vietnam than it did. Upon viewing the early cuts of ‘Coming Home,’ he coldly got up, walked toward the door and said ‘nice try’ before exiting the room, Fonda writes.
Maybe it was that “touching and explicit sex scene” with Voight, but hectoring Hayden became ever less fun to be around. So Jane moved on in 1989 to cable-TV and leveraged-buyout king Ted Turner, who as a control freak made Vadim and Hayden look like pikers. For one thing, Turner wasn’t having any of Jane’s movie career, touching and explicit as the scenes might have been. He whisked her out of Hollywood, and her Jane Fonda Workout, Beverly Hills’s most chic gym, shut down overnight. As the Washington Post’s Lynne Duke writes of Jane’s Turner Period:
“She moved to Atlanta. Stopped acting. They traveled constantly. They bought ranches. They both loved the outdoors. Attended Braves games (since he owned the baseball team). She felt he truly loved her, and he never hesitated to express it.
“But Turner would stumble over a particular word. He’d say ‘mongo’ or ‘magno’ when trying to utter ‘monogamy.’ It was a concept he did not practice, as Fonda writes.
“She again found herself living in the context of a man’s life, absorbing the cuts, the hurts, even learning to hold her tongue politically.
“She thought the ‘disease to please’ had ended with the Vadim years.
“‘But this burying, this betraying of myself was such an ingrained part of my modus operandi that in each new relationship I repeated the pattern,’ she writes.
And what a pattern–which continued until she got tired of mongo, or Ted didn’t like the fact that she’d become a born-again Christian (sort of), or whatever. What’s fascinating is that Jane’s individual husbands might change, but the template never did. When dissolute Euro film-auteurs were all the rage during the early ’60s, Jane was right there as personne nombre deux in the Vadim menage a trois. When the chic-baton passed on to the radical later in the decade, Jane was right there astride a Hanoi-commissioned gun instead of another kind of astride as she’d been before. And when radical went out and LBO’s came in during the Roaring ’80s, why–there was Jane, right there!
Now, Jane’s older like the rest of us, and at age 67, even if you’re as high-cheekboned and gorgeous as she still is, it’s getting harder to find husbands to run your life for you. So Jane has turned to the next best thing among the domineering: humorless feminist ideologues. As the Post’s Duke writes:
“She has, since the 2000 breakup with Turner, surrounded herself with…the universe of women friends who’ve helped her along the way, including Gloria Steinem and Eve Ensler, author of ‘The Vagina Monologues.’
With friends like these….
Jane Fonda had a tough life for someone who’s never missed a meal except by throwing it up, and it certainly couldn’t have been easy to be the daughter of the suicide-committing third or fourth or fifth wife of the insufferably leftist-correct Henry Fonda. Now, though, being as how Jane claims to be a feminist, isn’t it time for her to think for herself instead of letting Roger Vadim or Tom Hayden or Ted Turner or Eve Ensler do her thinking for her? Jane tells the Post’s Duke:
“Women have to not be afraid of their own strength and to inhabit themselves, and men have to not be afraid to own their hearts.”
OK, Jane, we’re waiting. You could start with all that Hanoi-mania.