Monday, September 28, 2020

Media: The Jane Fonda Horror Show

In TO DIE FOR, Nicole Kidman's character declares, "You're not anybody in America unless you're on TV. On TV is where we learn about who we really are. Because what's the point of doing anything worthwhile if nobody's watching? And if people are watching, it makes you a better person."  Who knew a two-time Academy Award winning actress would take those lines to heart? 



Jane Fonda has a new book that appears to exist solely to excuse her latest media blitz.  Fonda has assembled books in the past (THE JANE FONDA WORKOUT) and actually written one before (MY LIFE SO FAR).  Neither will prepare you for WHAT CAN I DO? MY PATH FROM CLIMATE DESPAIR TO ACTION.


Action or at least media attention.


We grasp that we aren't the intended audience for Jane's book.   Ellen Knickmeyer (AP) explains:

She said her target audience now is people like her who try to cut their plastic use and drive fuel-efficient cars, for instance, but otherwise “don’t know what to do and they feel helpless,” she said. “We’re trying to encourage people to become more active, across the age spectrum.”


When she was at THE WASHINGTON POST, Knickmeyer did the earliest and best reporting on the US War Crimes in Iraq -- specifically the gang rape of Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi and the murder of her and her family by US soldiers Steven Dale Green, James Barker and Paul Cortez, "Details Emerge in Alleged Army Rape, Killings."  At one time, when she was promoting WOMEN'S MEDIA CENTER, Jane spoke of Abeer; however, she never felt Abeer or the Iraq War was important enough for a book.

Reading WHAT CAN I DO, you quickly grasp that she hasn't written a book on climate change either.  The book's apparently aimed at herself and exists as a glorified datebook, detailing the superficial remarks that she and her friends have given at Firedrill Fridays.  Those actions took place to draw attention to climate change and to Jane herself.  As she notes in her book, she had wanted to do teach-ins but was told that they'd be better done away from the podium.  


So the real work wasn't at the press events known as Firedrill Friday but that's what she focuses on in her book, the press events.  This leaves you with a book that builds to nothing.  Superficial statements to a large crowd from this celebrity or that do not make for education or enlightenment.  The one word review for this book would be "shallow."


Shallow also describes Jane's attempts to promote the book.  


On HBO, she called for Democrats in Congress to stand up to President Donald Trump on any Supreme Court justice to replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg -- a stand that was stronger than anything in her actual book but, sadly, a stand she took on Bill Maher's show.

Jane's supposed to be a feminist.  Supped to be?  We didn't find that nonsense that she and Gloria Steinem pulled with Stephen Colbert on COMEDY CENTRAL funny -- and we called it out in real time.  What's a feminist doing sitting down with Bill Maher?

She's also supposed to be enlightened -- or at least somewhat enlightened.  Would a truly enlightened person appear on Bill Maher's show?  He hates Muslims and Arabs.  He's a racist.  We find it hard to believe that, in 1972, Jane would have made nice with a TV host who hated the Vietnamese people.  But apparently aging stars can make horror movies (Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, for example) late in their careers or they can just become horror shows (Jane in her current incarnation).  

Equally disgusting was watching her on THE TODAY SHOW making nice with Bully Boy Bush's daughter.  Remember back in January of 2007, when she spoke at the rally against the Iraq War declaring that "Silence is not an option" and that "we'll continue to be here for as long as necessary"?


She never gave a speech about the Iraq War again and never participated in another Iraq War action.  But she can go on TV and make nice with Bully Boy Bush's daughter?


Her desperate need for attention resulted in an infamous NEW YORK TIMES profile which made clear that she's no feminist.  Flesh peddler?  She apparently is that.


Fonda told NYT's Maureen Dowd that she knew how to get Donald Trump interested in climate change, "I will find four of the most beautiful, sexy, smart, climate-interested women I can, and we'll go in, and we'll kneel and we'll plead and beg."  That is beyond pathetic.  Jane is a true horror show now.  She's going to peddle flesh (Pamela Anderson and Sharon Stone are two women she name checks) to Donald.  She has no position of power, she's just a flesh peddler.  


She's supporting Joe Biden -- a man Tara Reade has credibly accused of assault -- so possibly she doesn't care if women are assaulted, raped, harmed?  


We make that point because, while we don't believe every woman that has come forward talking abuse and assault by Donald, we have stated that some of them are very credible.  


And Jane Fonda's 'grand idea' is to provide four women to Trump, to kneel before him and plead and beg?  


Set aside for a moment the weakness and pathetic nature of her appeal, grasp that she's putting women before -- serving them up to -- an alleged sexual predator.

That's disgusting.

When Jane first became a feminist, she trashed her work with Roger Vadim, disowned it.  But what she proposed to do with Trump was far worse than anything put on film by Vadim (who truly was a great director).

She told Maureen Dowd that she spoke to Jared Kushner -- "Jared or whatever his name is" -- and he referred her to Ivanka Trump whom Jane found unhelpful: "I told her my idea and she laughed and I never heard from her again."


Most women not in their 80s would laugh.  It's an absurd idea that puts women in victim status and peddles their flesh.  It was a disgusting idea.  An idea as lacking in feminism as Joan Baez's Vietnam 'protest' poster of women say yes to men who say no (to the draft).  Flesh peddler.


Again, we wish Jane were making horror movies right now instead of becoming a horror show.


The book itself is way too easy going to alarm or awaken anyone.  


There is so much that is genuinely awful about the book.  Certainly, that includes Eve Ensler.  Jane uses the book to promote her friends -- not actual causes.  If we need to be made aware of the women in Juarez, we need to hear from them and not from a White Anglo-American woman who has no skin in the game and who is best known politically for using sexism to attack Hillary Clinton's run for the presidency.  Time and again, Latino issues are raised by . . . non-Latinos.  It's so much that you want to yell, "Stop shoving Anglo Whites down our throats.  If you can't find Latinas in your surroundings that is on you -- at this late date, that is on you!"

In the 1970s, Jane came under criticism from Native Americans who felt she had gone beyond championing their cause to attempting to speak for them.  Among the many criticizing her efforts was Native American singer-songwriter Buffy St. Marie who stated that Jane "has unintentionally blown a couple of our most important issues by not really understanding them."  That was among the kinder of the critiques from Native Americans.  You'd think Jane would have learned a lesson but, then again, you wouldn't expect her to become a flesh peddler at this late date.


Her shallow book reads like a journal leading us to point out that at least Joan Rivers' DIARY OF A MAD DIVA was funny.  The 'book' brings to mind Paul Rudnick's comments -- as film reviewer Libby Gelman-Waxner: 


In STANLEY & IRIS, Jane Fonda wears a rubber snood and works in a factory that produces baked goods.  I got the feeling that once she finished this movie, Jane thought, "Okey-doke, I polished off Vietnam in COMING HOME, feminism in 9 TO 5 and the nuclear threat in THE CHINA SYNDROME, and now I've taken care of all the working-class women with colitis; I think I'll head for that ozone layer next --  if I don't do it, it won't get done."


Well check it off the to-do list, it's done.  It doesn't accomplish anything, but it's done.


Maybe it wasn't supposed to accomplish anything? Or maybe it wasn't supposed to accomplish anything with regards to climate change -- just to get her interviewed in print and on TV ahead of the election?


Jane told the truth about Justin Trudeau a few years back and faced fall out over her remarks.  Did that scare her?  Did it scare her off?  


Or does she just really not care about the issues she claims to be vested in?  At one point in the book, she insists that you can enrich your stock portfolio by stepping away from fossil fuel investments.  We hope that's true.  We remember when Tom Hayden hijacked a good portion of her fortune during the divorce settlement and how he did so by blackmailing her with the threat that he'd go public with what 'activist' Jane Fonda actually had in her stock portfolio.  


But is the whole thing just a pretense?


We ask for good reason.  Bernie Sanders is the politician who ran on the platform she believes in.  And she supported him . . . on March 20, 2020.  Up until then, she'd supported a number of others running for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.  We see nothing wrong with her support of Elizabeth Warren and even can look the other way on Kamala Harris since Harris is 'local' (California).  But we have a hard time justifying the other candidates she supported -- including Amy Klobuchar.  Amy had no climate plan, didn't support Medicare For All and had that troubling past as a prosecutor who wrongly imprisoned people of color -- including children of color.


Despite Bernie standing for everything she claims to believe in, she didn't endorse Bernie until March 20th, when he was the only candidate left in the race who wasn't Joe Biden.


Despite her claims to want to end climate change, her book is filled with the same people who organized the attack on Michael Moore recently.  Of the two, we like Jane better (we really do like Jane and take no pleasure in writing this piece).  But our dislike for Michael Moore does not mean that we justify the climate lobby attacking him.  Between the film Moore produced and the book Jane's promoting?  Only one of them will make any real difference -- and it's not going to be Jane's book.


One of the book's real purposes seems to be "Look, I'm a good person!"  Jane is a good person, we won't argue with that, but she's written a lousy book.  Good person that she is, she's not a climate leader.  Her reliance on politicians is appalling.  Especially when she briefly writes of meeting with Democratic Party senators who agree with her on climate but, as she discovers, won't actually do anything.  That meeting? It should have been the opening chapter of the book and should have led to a radicalized critique with real suggestions.


 Instead?  We're told to get out and vote to save our climate.  We're given crap like what we can do the day after the election.  That's nonsense.  The wold didn't need this book, the country didn't need it, we don't think even Jane's ego needed it.


We wanted to like it.  Reading it, we kept saying, "It's got to get better."  It never did.


Her tale of being in jail, for example, is borderline racist if not actually racist.  She's in jail with a group of women of color.  She wants to explain who she is to them so she goes with?  MONSTER-IN-LAW because she figures they'll know who Jennifer Lopez is.  Really?  If she'd written this in the 70s would she have decided to go with CALIFORNIA SUITE under the assumption that Black people would know Richard Pryor -- and only Richard Pryor?  Does she think people of color have no access to basic cable and have never seen basic cable staples like 9 TO 5 or ON GOLDEN POND -- among others?


That brief section is awful for so many reasons including Jane whining that she's served a bologna sandwich on white bread with a sugary drink.   Jane, you've written about nutrition.  That's the standard 'dinner' at the jail you're at and you can't take a moment in your book that you're writing to note how high carb it is?  To note how jails and prisons regularly serve inmates meals that are not just bad for them but, due to medical conditions, can also be harmful?  No diabetic inmate needs the meal that was offered.  This is really the only part of the book that deals with incarceration and it is clearly a problem across the country but Jane ignores it.


For those who care about the issue, you can refer to Kim Kelly's "The Climate Disaster Inside America's Prisons: Inmates are among the most vulnerable populations on our warming planet -- and among the most ignored" which ran at THE NEW REPUBLIC in 2019 and opens:

Global warming far and away is the most pressing issue facing the United States (and the rest of the planet). The fast-approaching climate reckoning is bigger than the presidential election, bigger than our imperialist forever wars, bigger even than the virulent fascist threat that’s taken root in the White House and spread its tendrils across the globe. It is no longer an exaggeration to say that the world is dying. Time is running out to pull back from the point of no return before it swallows us all whole. 

For millions of Americans, that point is already here—and unlike the majority of people, they have no way to escape its horrors. When natural disasters hit, incarcerated people are often the first to be abandoned; as the climate crisis worsens, so will their suffering. The specter of climate change is a hazardous fact of life for the prisoners forced to labor in sweltering Texas fields, the ones fighting wildfires for pennies in California, and those recently left trapped in the path of Hurricane Dorian when South Carolina prison officials declined to evacuate them ahead of the storm. 

And yet incarcerated people have been largely left out of the conversations around ambitious climate justice proposals like the Green New Deal, which neglects to engage with decarceration, prison abolition, or demilitarization. Nor do its lead advocates say much to specifically address what’s already happening inside the country’s prisons. The top demand in 2018’s national prison strike was to create “immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons and prison policies that recognize the humanity of imprisoned men and women.” A year later, not only are those basic demands left unmet, but the number of incarcerated people who’ve died preventable, climate-related deaths have continued to increase. 

“When we think about the increasingly genocidal climate crisis, it’s important to understand that prisoners and detainees are literally on the front lines,” says prison abolitionist and organizer Jay Ware. It’s the imprisoned who suffer the greatest blows of climate-related catastrophe, he notes, “whether this is families fleeing climate change in the Global South being detained and separated into immigrant detention facilities or other black, brown, and poor white prisoners from typically toxic neighborhoods ecologically who are held in toxic prisons.”

Climate vulnerabilities continue to intensify as paralyzing natural disasters multiply and occur with greater frequency, all while the U.S. government does nothing to curb the breakdown of the climate. “Every single day is a climate, weather, and environmental related disaster for people in prison,” said a member-organizer of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) who requested anonymity to minimize their risk of retaliation from prison officials. IWOC is a prisoner-led section of the Industrial Workers of the World that coordinates inside and outside of prison walls to support incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people and abolish prison slavery.



Time and again, you will gasp in horror at this book.  Save a tree, and certainly save your money, is our recommendation.  We didn't, we actually paid for it.  And when it arrived in the mail and we took our copies out of the box, we were really horrified. Why in the world would someone think the world needed a glossy paged book on climate change?  Every page is glossy.  Were they not aware that coated pages are not biodegradable?  Again, everything about this book and its promotion has been a horror show.

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