Over the years Jodie Foster has recited more lines to more audiences than most people would have in ten lifetimes. But on Monday, accepting the Cecil B DeMille Award at the 70th Golden Globes ceremony, she read from her own script.
The 50-year-old actor-cum-filmmaker wasn’t, for the record, accepting an award of high distinction from her peers. The mob behind the Golden Globes — famously described by writer Sharon Waxman as the film industry’s “dirty little secret” — is the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a mysterious clique of low-rent “journalists” required to publish just four entertainment-related stories a year to qualify for membership.
Foster’s speech was a disjointed smattering of thank yous, personal reflections and anecdotes, about as close to waffling as a planned-to-the-minute ceremony can get (Clint Eastwood and the 2012 GOP convention notwithstanding).
“I hope you’re not disappointed that there won’t be a big coming-out speech tonight because I already did my coming out about a thousand years ago,” the Silence of the Lambs star said, making it clear she wasn’t going to talk about life as a lesbian. Foster came out at a Hollywood Reporter breakfast in 2007.
Nevertheless, plenty of news outlets around the world ran stories suggesting this was Foster’s “confessional”, to apply a fairly crass word (her choice) to a meaningful part of a gay person’s life. She talked in code, never saying “gay” or “lesbian.”
Foster, a two-time Oscar winner who has been acting since she was three-years-old, is many things. A champion of gay rights isn’t one of them.
Actor and playwright Harvey Fierstein, a long time gay rights advocate, wrote:
“Trying desperately to be fair to JODI FOSTER, but what she did last night by standing in front of millions of people and being too ashamed to say the word lesbian or gay sent the message that being gay is something of which to be ashamed.”
Foster, of course, is under no obligation to discuss her sex life with anybody. It may disappoint some that she hasn’t used her clout to influence public opinion, but on matters this personal it is probably best not to rush to judgement.
Where the re-minted star’s speech got crazy weird, and insanely hypocritical, wasn’t the bit when she thanked Mel “you look like a fucking pig in heat” Gibson, hardly a shining beacon on the subject of political correctness, women’s issues or anything vaguely resembling a moral compass.
It was when Foster detoured into a discussion about privacy:
“If you had been a public figure from the time that you were a toddler, if you’d had to fight for a life that felt real and honest and normal against all odds, then maybe you too might value privacy above all else. Privacy.”
Let’s take a moment to recap. Jodie Foster, looking a million bucks in a gleaming navy cleavage-exhibiting dress, jubilantly speaks at one of Hollywood’s biggest nights — in front of cameras beamed into 19.7 million homes in America alone — about the importance of being able to keep a low profile.
Like her last film The Beaver, in which Gibson spent the lion’s share of the running time with his arm up a puppet rodent, talking with a Cockney accent sledged by The Telegraph as one of the worst in film history, Foster wasn’t taking the piss.
That an intelligent person is apparently incapable of grasping such breathtaking hypocrisy is, perhaps, a sad indication of what a life spent in the spotlight can do to your critical facilities. It’s also a classic example of diss-the-cake-and-gobble-it-too celebrity.
Foster has been around the tracks long enough to know her speech would spawn international headlines and raise her already considerable profile. To use the opportunity to stand on a soapbox and extoll her belief in “privacy above all else” reflects astonishing gall.
But it got worse. As her bizzarre dispatch wrapped up, the gong-collecting privacy proponent said:
“Jodie Foster was here, I still am, and I want to be seen.”
You read that right: I want to be seen.
If journalists and paparazzi decide to ignore Foster’s plea for privacy — and history, of course, suggests they will — it might not be because they’re soulless scum-sucking hacks who peep through the blinds and flog unflattering photographs to the tabloids. They may be trying to make at least one of her wishes come true.