Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Yet Another Role for Jane Fonda

I took a break recently to do a little thinking and a little reading, so now it’s book report time! Today’s subject: “My Life, So Far,” by Jane Fonda.

Before I go into my opinions and my review of the new role Jane is playing, I should say that prior to reading her autobiography, I knew little about her. I was a bit too young to understand the war in Vietnam as it happened, or the protest movement in which she became so deeply enmeshed. And I was certainly too young to see the Barbarella-Jane when she first came out. I’ve seen bits and pieces of it on cable TV, and it is most likely what turned me off from most Jane Fonda films, so I haven’t seen much of her work.

I saw and liked both “Agnes of God,” and “On Golden Pond,” mainly because of the strength of the casts in these films. I’ll give Jane her props, though, for these roles. Her performances were very good in my opinion.

Another reason Jane has rarely crossed my mind is that I have little to no interest in what celebrities have to say off-screen. Sure, they have as much right to free expression as I do. However, they are paid to pretend to be what they are not, so why do they think they are believable in the first place? Frankly, if I need information about Ritalin, I won’t ask Tom Cruise or Kelly Preston. I will ask someone who was formally educated. Just because a celebrity can play a doctor on TV doesn’t mean he or she could have handled medical school. I’ll stick with the professionals, thanks, even though too many of them lack credibility these days.

Some actors are so good they can even fool themselves, and after reading her account of her life, I would guess Jane rightfully earned her Oscars and could have received some for her performances in real life (which she admits freely, in so many words). But in this, what she calls her Third Act, I don’t think she’s giving us quite the Oscar-caliber performance of which she reminds us often she is capable. Acting is so much more difficult in print.

You might ask, if I’m so above the Hollywood opinion, why did I throw good money down on a celebrity autobiography? I’ll tell you. I had seen Jane making the rounds on the talk show circuit, and something about her demeanor caught my attention, and then I stopped to listen. What I heard intrigued me. I’ve been on a spiritual journey myself in the last few years, and I am no longer who I once was. I am interested in how other people experience change in their lives, and she seemed to be someone who at least felt changed. She said in her interviews that she had converted to Christianity, and then my interest peaked further when she said she was working with adolescents on reproductive issues in her now-home state of Georgia. I had no idea where Jane stood on abortion before or after her conversion. I didn’t check out the foundation she established until I had finished the last page of her book, and I didn’t read anyone else’s opinions, either. I wanted an open mind, and I wanted to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth.

On camera, Jane plays the gracefully-aging, well-adjusting, saved, maturing, wisdom-seeking woman one would hope to be by her age of sixty-seven. As I said, though, acting doesn’t translate well to the page. She comes so very close to the truth, and I think has some keen insights into the behavior of women who have been sexually abused (as she believes she may have been, and as her mother was). Like me, Jane has some lost memories.

I thought perhaps I would find abortion in Jane’s life. Statistically speaking, I had a good chance of it, and I wondered if that’s what I had “recognized” in her when I watched her TV interviews. She discloses that her mother was the kind of woman other women could go to when they were pregnant and needed help, clearly meaning her mother knew the right doctors for the job. And in researching her role for her third act, it appears Jane is using her mother as a role model. Jane Fonda, peace activist, environmentalist, feminist and now self-proclaimed born-again Christian is in the abortion business. Check out www.gcapp.org, the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention to find links to Planned Parenthood and their like.

Jane also makes it clear in her book that she shares her mother’s scorn for people who have more children than they can afford to raise. Her mother’s insecurities stemmed from time spent in poverty, and are therefore understandable. To hear these ideas from a woman like Jane Fonda, who never knew hunger or want of the basic necessities of life makes me ill. She looks down from her great height of material plenty and derides the poor, whose joys stem not from material goods, which they lack, but from each other. She would deny them the fulfillment of children because they are financially deficient, and perhaps take up too many of her resources, I suppose. She doesn’t really explain it well, or provide alternative solutions to killing off the humans who would like to inhabit this planet. We forget that we are a natural part of this world, not an infestation.

If I sound as if Jane failed to impress or inspire me with her introspective, it’s because she did. Miserably. While her writing style is readable, her material often drags. Instead of introspection there are too many times when it’s purely narcissism. Her account of working with Katherine Hepburn is a great example of Jane projecting, mirroring herself in others. In Jane’s version, Ms. Hepburn’s obvious jabs at Jane’s ego are turned around and become a self-esteem issue for Ms. Hepburn.

Jane ranges wildly from keen insight into the “shine” of sexuality exuded by women who were sexually abused as children to events that are obviously still shrouded in mystery for her. She reports that her second marriage began to slide downhill rapidly after her then-husband viewed a screening of “Coming Home,” which contains a sexually explicit scene. From what Jane describes of his response, I hear a man who isn’t sure who he’s sleeping with at home. She acts well, and apparently often. Jane is still unaware herself that she is playing a role, so perhaps she simply needs more time to think about it. She does consider herself a work in progress, which is good advice for everyone, me especially.

I wanted to entitle this review, “Jane, you ignorant ----,” but I guess it isn’t polite (old-time SNL fans like myself can fill in the blank easily enough). But Jane, one cannot be a pro-abortion Christian. There is no such thing. Abortion is simply not allowed under Christian precepts, in any denomination that relies on the New Testament Scriptures. I wonder if Jane is a “John 3:16 Christian,” and if so, it is sad. There is a wealth of information in the Scriptures, including the Gospel of women: The Gospel According to St. Luke. Jane conveniently forgets how Luke describes the meeting between Mary, the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, and her cousin, Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist. Both women were pregnant. The second-trimester child in Elizabeth’s womb recognized the first-trimester Jesus, and leapt with recognition. The ancient word used for the unborn infants is the same word they used for born babies. The children in these wombs are filled with the Holy Spirit, but Jane, the self-described Christian, would have condoned the abortion of these. Jane, there’s no Christianity without Christ, and He was once an unborn child filled with the grace of God from the moment of His conception.

Another reason Jane’s book disappoints is that even though I slogged and dragged myself through the quagmire of her political views about war here, and war there (hear she’s hitting the “war” path again), and her great love for and knowledge about the plight of veterans, I got no where. She speaks about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as if she has studied it, and I would have expected her to know something about it, as deeply as she says she involves herself in Veterans Affairs. Jane says that our military trained our soldiers to dissociate from killing, to make them more efficient killers, and that this set them up to develop PTSD more readily. She’s heard right. There are studies that indicate this is the key reason why there seem to be so many more PTSD victims as a result of more recent military actions.

But in the present world, Jane, you ignorant…..she is teaching adolescents girls to dissociate themselves from their unborn children, to make them into more efficient killers and setting them up to develop PTSD. She wants a Good Brownie Badge for this, too. She understands that the male-dominated society required women to change themselves to suit the male workplace, instead of the workplace being changed to accommodate the special needs of women. But she fails to catch on that abortion holds women in slavery to men. A recent op-ed by John Lankeit in my Diocesan paper (The Catholic Sun, July 21, 2005) said it best:

“…in a world without contraception, pregnancy-proof sexual intercourse is not a given. In such a world, a man has to consider carefully how his actions will affect not only himself, but the woman. Here’s a real person - a real woman - with feelings and needs, dreams for success and love, and the potential to bring human life into the world. He has to stop and think, ‘If I got her pregnant, is she the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with – and vice versa?’ Suddenly, she is more than just a potential ‘fling without consequences’ as she is unfortunately reduced to in a contraceptive culture. Frankly, I can’t think of a single technological advance that is more abusive to women than artificial contraceptives. Women have been duped by a promise of sexual freedom. But in place of liberation there’s been a huge increase in divorce, in domestic abuse, and in single mothers raising children.” And abortion, I will add. All women are reduced to Barbarellas, and another good sign that Jane’s not nailing this performance is that she thinks Barbarella, as a film, was making a relevant social statement in support of women. And she says she’s actually seen it.

“Jane, you…” Oh, never mind. I’m not sure Jane will ever grasp it, but she comes so close that I have hope. How close? Eight pages, most of them photos (for a woman who dislikes her own image, she sure shares a lot of photos with her readers). On page 183, she writes that she never considered abortion an option to “back out” of a difficult pregnancy, but she was glad she had the choice offered to her. On page 191, she has this to say about the same pregnancy: “I am carrying life – what does this mean for me?” Life that she was glad she had the choice to end early on. I wonder, bruised and complaining as she is about her deeply troubled parents and unhappy childhood, if she ever gave any consideration to the effect these words will have on her son? He lives only by his mother’s choice, and she is glad of the power.

To top off her hypocrisy and my well of disenchantment, Jane tries very hard to make the reader bleed for the children who are and were killed by combat, something about which we should all grieve. And she sees what perpetrating horrors does to the perpetrator, as she laments, “What are we doing to our young men?” after recalling an incident in which a brutally broken soldier tried to confess having killed an infant in Vietnam. Jane, what are you doing to our young women (and men) down in there Georgia? Millions of us cannot even admit to the infanticide we’ve committed, as blocked and sputtering as the young soldier who tried to reach out to you.

I let Jane’s book gather dust with the last two chapters unread for at least a week, dreading even the small effort needed to finish it. After her charming accounts about population control (Hollywood-style eugenics), and the obnoxious image of Ted Turner (who she reveals was described as a male chauvinist pig) speaking in support of pitting women against their children, I was sick of the sound of her voice. I feel very sorry for Jane Fonda. She lost her mother young; was probably sexually abused in childhood; had an emotionally absent father; engaged in demeaning sexual activity and lost her identity for every man to whom she was committed – and as she gets closer to the day when she will meet the One who is the way, the truth, and the life, she is still mired in denial of that truth.

She is assuming a role that I think is based in part on what she sees as her mother’s good qualities. She is attempting to reconcile with her deceased mother, something with which I deeply empathize. She associates feminism with contraception and access to abortion, an all-too-common mistake. She claims to tackle every new project by attaining an inexhaustible supply of knowledge about the subject at hand, so she can “make it better.” I understand that, too. But she has neglected a wealth of data and personal testimony warning about the harm abortion causes, including depression, suicide, substance abuse, and PTSD. She likes statistics, but she seems ignorant of the 100,000 women who will be in post-abortion healing this year, and since 50% of us won’t admit we’ve ever had an abortion, these are the tip of the iceberg.

But with Jane, the hardest thing for me to understand is how ill prepared she is for this, her final role, as she calls it, especially after being forced to read in detail how well she prepared for just about every other role she has played. How does she manage to ignore the fact that her mother’s philosophies about sexuality and abortion never led her to where Jane says she wants to go? Jane’s tortured mother slit her own throat in despair, leaving her children vulnerable and alone. Don’t raise the curtain on your third act just yet, Jane. You have a lot more work to do.


At 10:58 AM, Blogger Libbyx3 said...

All I can say is WOW!!!!
Way to go. I am so glad you read her book and gave us an awsome review. I hate to think that Ms. Jane ---- is influencing our young folks. I don't normally have time to read bloggs, but this one caught my eye, and I'm so glad I took the time to read all the way through it.

I read your testimony once and I thought I remember you saying that you had your abortion in Las Vegas. That is where I grew up and that is where I had my abortion (at age 15). I believe it was located on Maryland Parkway and at the time I think the building was a tannish brown. I cried while reading your story. It took me all the way back to my abortion about 26 years ago. I have blocked out a lot of the memories from that part of my life until I started to face it and to heal. I was so encouraged by your story and now wish I had written to you sooner. Thank you for your life and your efforts to expose the lie of abortion and those who attempt to draw us into that lie. Thank you from those of us who are "Post-Abortive" and also from our daughters who these people are targeting.
God bless you
PS My husband grew up in Phoenix two blocks away from the notorious VanBuren St. What a small world!!!!

At 8:27 AM, Blogger Silent Rain Drops said...

Hello, Libby! I'm so glad you wrote. Thank you for your kind praise of my book report. I had sure hoped for more from the book and from Jane herself, especially as she is getting older. Since I'm aging, I've been hoping it automatically comes with wisdom, but there must be more to it than just time itself. :)

On a somber note, the tannish-brown building sounds too familiar - it was the color of walnuts. It was at least two stories high, definitely no more than four... It is a very small world - we might have been there at very nearly the same time, since my abortion was also twenty-six years ago - twenty-seven this May or June. We are very close in age, too, as are our children. I sure wish we all could have met under better circumstances.

Libby, thanks again for your encouragement, and may God bless you, too, for sharing your own experience! I hope you have a happy New Year filled with all good things for you and your family.


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