Jodie Foster and why the joke’s on you

I have some things to say today.

They’re about Jodie Foster, and more importantly, about all of the people who think they’re owed representation by someone because they were once on the TV.

Some people are a bit upset by this. Apparently her speech was a big fuck you to every gay person ever, and by making her speech light hearted and more grounded in privacy than a huge moment, she’s somehow shunned the gay community.

Well, to that I say, she actually has the right to come out or to not come out however she wants. She doesn’t have be public about anything. She does not owe you anything. Not the right to know, not representation, not to fly a flag of any sort. No one should feel forced to fly a flag or represent something unless they want to.

What I think she was trying to get at (please note, not what I think she should have done, but what I think the true interpretation of her speech was) in this speech is that her sexuality (and everyone’s) shouldn’t actually be a big deal. It shouldn’t be this big drawn out amazing thing when someone admits they’re gay – that’s the purpose behind that serious “While I’m here being all confessional” part, and the huge pause before “single”. That drawn out tension; it was there to create comic relief and to make people think. Which she’s done very well, judging by the tweets and blogs and general outrage online about this.

I’ve seen part of her speech where she mentions that her publicist must be worried seen as some sort of acknowledgement that an ‘admission’ of homosexuality is somehow a career killer. I think it’s simpler than that. Foster knows that celebs don’t say things without talking it over with their pub, and even more to the point, this is a huge deviation from the usual private, reserved Jodie Foster. It’s like teasing the media right there.

I’ve seen her failure to publically announce her sexuality described as ‘immoral’. How she could be bigger than what she is. She could achieve something great and make a big change for the LGBT community.

You know what though?

Jodie Foster is a person. People have the right to a private life, and they don’t owe you a damn thing. She was thrust into the limelight as a toddler. She’s very calculating, which is why she doesn’t grace the front pages of tabloids. She has children who she has raised out of the limelight. She doesn’t answer personal questions, she doesn’t do personal interviews – she keeps her private life separate to her working life – a well documented, obvious fact to any fan. And she absolutely has the right to do that.

Jodie Foster’s speech wasn’t about her sexuality; it was about her right to privacy. It’s something she’s been vocal about before.

Today … A beautiful young woman strides down the sidewalk alone, head down, hands drawn into fists. She’s walking fast, darting around huge men with black cameras thrusting at her mouth and chest. “Kristen, how do you feel?” “Smile Kris!” “Hey, hey, did you get her?” “I got her. I got her!” The young woman doesn’t cry. Fuck no. She doesn’t look up. She’s learned. She keeps her head down, her shades on, fists in her pockets. Don’t speak. Don’t look. Don’t cry.

My mother had a saying that she doled out after every small injustice, every heartbreak, every moment of abject suffering. “This too shall pass.” God, I hated that phrase. It always seemed so banal and out of touch, like she was telling me my pain was irrelevant. Now it just seems quaint, but oddly true … Eventually this all passes. The public horrors of today eventually blow away. And, yes, you are changed by the awful wake of reckoning they leave behind. You trust less. You calculate your steps. You survive. Hopefully in the process you don’t lose your ability to throw your arms in the air again and spin in wild abandon. That is the ultimate F.U. and—finally—the most beautiful survival tool of all. Don’t let them take that away from you.

Sure, in her speech, she teased you about the sexuality part – but this was her explanation of WHY she hasn’t publically come out; poking fun at us, society, who thinks we have the right to know everything.

The public did exactly what she’s talking about in her speech; a huge spectacle, an attempt to invade someone’s privacy to the point where people are willing to put words in her mouth. The more serious undertones of this speech, of course, being that her sexuality shouldn’t be some sort of circus act or only fit for reality TV.

Steve Gray got it right here – ‘Wouldn’t you want a moment when you are being honest to have some class, and be in a situation where you could be sure your statement was clear and understood’.

That’s the problem. People have picked up this speech and assumed it was about coming out, and then got confused because they couldn’t glean that from the speech. It was supposed to make you think. It was a calculated move that has got people talking about the right issues – why is sexuality anyone’s business? Why should we have to come out? Who decides when someone is ready to come out?

The beautiful thing about Jodie’s speech is that she answered all of those questions. Watch her speech again and forget everything you know about Jodie Foster. Forget the accusations of lesbianism, forget about whether she has or has not come out. Don’t assume that this is a coming out speech. Listen to the words she uses and how she puts them together. I guarantee you that you’ll see something different.

And while we’re here – we don’t need a gay All Black to come out. First, who the fuck are you to assume that anyone has the right to ask anyone to divulge personal information about themselves?

Why don’t people understand that all these calls for an AB to come out are possibly heart-breaking to someone? There might be an AB sitting there who is gay but for whatever reason doesn’t want to come out, isn’t ready, or doesn’t think it’s a big deal. Maybe he doesn’t want to assume to represent his sexuality, or maybe he doesn’t want to disappoint his very traditional 98 year old grandma. How do you think he feels when all these people are calling him (that is, any gay AB who doesn’t want to be public about his sexuality) a coward? You’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t, it seems.

I think that no one needs to know who you’re sleeping with or what type of people you like. No one has to ‘announce’ their sexuality if they’re straight. And why not? Because straight is considered the ‘norm’.

You know what I want to see? Gay being considered normal. I want no one to ask about someone’s sexuality, because no one cares – and why would no one care? Because it’s not a big deal. That’s right. Let’s get to a place where being gay is not a big deal, and no one feels like they have to make announcements about it unless they want to.

 I’ll leave you with this; Jodie’s own words: I will not willfully participate in my own exploitation.  

Allow others that right to choose to not participate in theirs.

3 thoughts on “Jodie Foster and why the joke’s on you

  1. Chris Miller January 15, 2013 at 10:24 pm Reply

    It would also be devastating to not QUITE be an All Black at the moment, to have >1 people know you’re gay… and then to make the team sometime in the near future. You’d never know why you were picked. Were you actually good enough or not? (This is not an argument against affirmative action in general, but in this situation it’s pretty different, because there are so few All Blacks and there’s such an intense focus on them and their lives in the media and the calls for a gay All Black are so widely seen and so active right now.

    • sp041 January 15, 2013 at 10:25 pm Reply

      That’s a really great point, and only another reason why sexuality shouldn’t be a big deal!

  2. gaayathri January 17, 2013 at 5:04 pm Reply

    I get your point and I agree with the thrust of your argument. What I found off-putting about the speech was the implicit shaming of people who do put their lives out there.

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