THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Paul Katz Headshot

Jodie Foster and the Price of Fame

Posted: Updated:

Jodie Foster did not make a "coming out" speech during Sunday night's Golden Globes ceremony. She previously acknowledged a loving relationship with a woman when she received the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award at a Women In Hollywood breakfast held in 2007.

To me, that moment may not have been a major declaration, but it equated to "coming out." This past weekend, Foster was definitely not "deeply entrenched in the closet" as Deb Baer wrote in her Huffington Post blog published yesterday.

In a passive-aggressive and admittedly angry piece Baer writes, "Jodie Foster will quickly realize how loved and supported she's always been and how she wasted too many years hiding." Baer goes on to suggest that Foster needs to work through some self-loathing and fear.

There is massive and inaccurate projection going on there.

During her speech, Foster exuded a strong, confident, yet playful presence. She told us she had come out out to family, friends and those she trusted in her industry a long time ago. Her speech demonstrated that she knows -- now -- how loved and supported she has been and still is.

The only manner in which she didn't come out (at least until 2007) was publicly. Her reasons for that choice are hers; perhaps one day she'll let us in on it. A person truly living with shame or self-loathing about being gay doesn't come out at all. To anyone. In any way. Ever. Period.

Wanting a private life does not automatically equate to "I have something to hide and be ashamed of." In Baer's blog, privacy is a "whiny" celebrity excuse.

Bulls**t.

There are performers, actors and actresses, and then there are fame whores. One of the criticisms leveled at Foster in several blogs and Facebook commentaries is that if she wants privacy so badly, then she shouldn't have gone into the movie business and needs to stop showing up for Hollywood events.

Well, folks, let me tell you something. I'd love to earn my living as a writer, singer or actor. I'd love to get paid for those activities, which make me feel most alive. That's it. I'm not thinking about being famous. I'm thinking about being fulfilled and living life doing something I enjoy.

Based on that, and my observances of Jodie Foster since the early '70s, I believe all the young actress wanted to do was act and be able to make a living doing it. Given the consistency she has shown through all these years, I feel 100 percent confident in declaring that she was not interested in being a "starlet," focused on big Hollywood parties, or the next huge blockbuster she could get into in order to keep her career going.

In fact, she left the scene for years. She carved out a "normal" life for herself by going to Yale, and proving she was not only a brilliant actress, but also a highly intelligent woman. She's chosen more unconventional films to star in and direct than she has colossal hits, and has never seemed interested in what she can do to keep herself in the public eye.

So, people claiming she needs to "shut up and deal with it," are not being fair. She didn't go into this business asking for fame or adoration. She wanted to work. Fame is merely the price she, and many other Hollywood actors, are paying in order to do what they love. Just like I, and millions of other artists, would also love to do.

There are people who have an attitude of "I pay for the clothes on her back by going to her movies," but Jodie Foster does not owe an audience any detail of her private life she wants to keep for herself and those closest to her.

The fame-whore starlets we see today, however, do owe us their private life. That's what they're signing up for. I believe that is what Foster was referring to when she used "Honey Boo Boo" or reality TV shows as a comparison during her speech. There is certainly a wide gap between reality TV and merely confirming you're a woman in a relationship with another woman and leaving it at that, but I "got" what Foster was saying.

Right after Foster's speech aired live on the West Coast my Facebook page was littered with commentary about how rambling, incoherent, bitter and defensive she was. Within minutes, I was also seeing articles claiming she'd made a "retirement" speech.

I had to ask myself, "Did we see the same speech? Am I crazy because I didn't see any of those qualities?"

The Golden Globes airs twice in Los Angeles; once live and then a repeat immediately after. I tuned in during the repeat broadcast to see if I was losing my mind and Foster had demonstrated some complete looney tunes moment that just went completely over my head. I found her speech even more cohesive and moving the second time around.

Did a few of the things she said seem a bit odd? Perhaps. However, Foster has always been a bit poetic and metaphoric in her acceptance speeches. She's a brilliant woman, and sometimes people with that kind of brilliance speak in their own cadences and rhythms that most people won't get.

There is also the possibility that since the Golden Globes is a party where liquor flows freely, Foster had thrown back a few and it affected some of her choices.

I don't understand the labeling of Foster's speech as an announcement of "retirement." She made it clear she would still be using her voice; it just may not be in ways we have been accustomed to.

As far as her proximity to Mel Gibson, who many feel is a racist and homophobe, Foster is one-up on many of us in that regard. She knows him personally. Given how smart I believe she is, I'm going to give her the benefit of the doubt and assume she knows what his demons are and what causes his behaviors. We don't.

I'm gay, and my armchair diagnosis of Mel is that he has some sort of disorder. That is not an excuse for his behaviors; but my explanation for them, as well as my explanation of Foster's continual public understanding of him.

I don't believe for one moment that Jodie Foster would be hanging out with Mel Gibson if she felt he truly hated Jews and gay people. I can't wrap my brain around that, given the kind of art she creates. If I am wrong, then that would make her one genuinely messed up person.

Her closing statement, "Jodie Foster was here. I still am. And I want to be seen, to be understood deeply and to be not so very lonely" was powerful and resonated strongly. Unfortunately, it appears many don't understand Jodie Foster this week and have blown her speech out of proportion in quite a few ways.