Jane Fonda is in talks to play Nancy Reagan in a new film called The Butler.
Now this has outraged many Americans on the right; conservatives who feel such a liberal Democratic feminist should not be portraying Mrs. Reagan. And there are those who feel Ms. Fonda, due to her past as Hanoi Jane, should not be in films at all.
I have a real problem with this.
First let me start by saying that my father fought in the Korean War, my uncle in Vietnam, my cousin in Persian Gulf I and II, and another relative in Iraq and Afghanistan. So I am no stranger to the military. I support our troops and believe we have the best military in the world. I acknowledge that it is through their efforts to keep me safe and free that I can do what I do today--express my opinions on radio and television--in part because of what they have done to secure and maintain my freedom as an American.
I also know that many of these veterans, regardless of their political ideology, hate Ms. Fonda for her former antiwar protests and for her visit to North Vietnam and that photo--that photo that made so many Americans, whether in the military or not, wince.
Jane Fonda admitted to Barbara Walters in the 1980s that it made her wince. She expressed regret and made an apology to the nation at that time. She has met with veterans, explained her position and asked for forgiveness, which some have given her. She has also become a born again Christian, a religion which centers largely on the idea of forgiveness; but many who call themselves Christians cannot forgive Jane Fonda.
Jane Fonda is an actress--an excellent actress, having won Academy Awards and performed brilliantly in too many films to mention here. Her actions as Hanoi Jane did not affect her acting career; her films for the most part were box office bank. Her exercise videos sold over 17 million copies; to date no other exercise video has been as large a seller as hers. And with the exception of a cancelled appearance to sell her book on QVC based on her past as Hanoi Jane, Ms. Fonda has had a brilliant and lucrative career.
The bottom line here is that Ms. Fonda is an actress. That is her craft. The writers, director, and producer of this film have the freedom to cast her. She has the freedom to play the role. We have the freedom to buy tickets for the film or not.
Bottom line, if you don’t like Ms. Fonda playing Mrs. Reagan, don’t see the film.
Isn’t that the very freedom our troops fought for? Ms. Fonda’s freedom to speak out for the war? And our freedom as consumers to support it, ignore it, or boycott it?