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January 14, 2013 6:24 PM   Subscribe

At last night's Golden Globe Awards, actress Jodie Foster was presented with the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement award. During her speech, the notoriously private actress touched on the very notion of privacy, her sexuality, and the difficulty of being a public person with a normal life. Reactions have been mixed.

Jodie Foster's speech at the Golden Globes spoke volumes about how difficult coming out still is for many public figures

Why Jodie Foster's Golden Globes Speech Was So Infuriating

Jodie Foster’s carefully calibrated coming-out speech is hailed by many in gay community


Jodie Foster's bizarre elegy for privacy

Jodie Foster's glass closet

LGBT Advocates Applaud, Cringe and Praise Jodie Foster Coming Out
posted by mudpuppie (205 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
I was surprised by her speech, but mostly because I had thought that she'd come out years ago.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 6:27 PM on January 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


Woman Who Admits To Having Watched Golden Globes Thinks Jodie Foster Embarrassed Herself
posted by roger ackroyd at 6:29 PM on January 14, 2013 [15 favorites]


After your stalker shoots the President in an attempt to impress you, you probably are entitled to a free pass if you're a bit weird about privacy.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:32 PM on January 14, 2013 [201 favorites]


I am baffled as to why this was characterised as a coming out speech; she has been out since way before she and her ex-partner had children.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:34 PM on January 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


The consensus of the people I follow on Twitter who were commenting on the GGs in general was "what did she say?" (But remember I mostly follow people for their sense of humor and this was the least hilarious moment of the 3-hour show).
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:35 PM on January 14, 2013


Her nervousness when she started to do the coming-out-but-not part was so real and raw I got major empathy cringes (this is sort of a diagonal opposite of the douche chills).
posted by threeants at 6:36 PM on January 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was going to make a post about this! Anyway, I'm one of the detractors. I thought the whole thing was an incoherent mess.

Yes, even actresses have the right to privacy. But 35 years ago, Harvey Milk was shot for being openly gay. Then, we lost an entire generation of gay men to homophobia, men who died in hospitals where nurses would not touch them, who were thrown away in trash bags after they died. And today, between 20 and 40 percent of the 600,000 homeless children in this country identify as LGBT; children who have been kicked out, or felt they had to leave home because their families do not accept them.

No one was asking Jodie Foster to be the spokesperson for HRC. But it would have been nice for her to acknowledge the many, many celebrities who have done the work of coming out publicly for her, instead of making mean-spirited remarks about press conferences and perfumes. No one was making her talk about her sexual orientation in a speech for lifetime achievement in film. She brought it up. And thanked the homophobic, anti-Semite Mel Gibson.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:37 PM on January 14, 2013 [28 favorites]


Andrew Sullivan's post about this, titled 'Jodie Foster Stops Lying', convinced me a I was right not to give him $20 for his website and that Jodie Foster is fine actress who doesn't deserve people gawking and commenting.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:38 PM on January 14, 2013 [19 favorites]


I was surprised by her speech, but mostly because I had thought that she'd come out years ago

That's pretty much exactly what she said in her speech, too.
posted by mudpuppie at 6:38 PM on January 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


People on Twitter didn't watch the GGs, oneswellfoop: they were announced back in November.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 6:39 PM on January 14, 2013


I was watching, I am gay, and I didn't realize it was a coming out speech until I read it in the news later... of course, I wasn't paying a lot of attention. It was a very muddled speech, though. I thought maybe she was announcing her retirement, if only because the audience looked very touched and solemn whenever the camera panned over to them. Some of them must have had an idea, or figured it out midway through.

It's never too late to come out and one more on the books never hurts, though.
posted by subdee at 6:39 PM on January 14, 2013


Can I just say I was more surprised to learn that she was 50? Dunno why that caught me off-guard. She looks fantastic.
posted by jquinby at 6:40 PM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Brandon Blatcher: "Andrew Sullivan's post about this, titled 'Jodie Foster Stops Lying', convinced me a I was right not to give him $20 for his website and that Jodie Foster is fine actress who doesn't deserve people gawking and commenting"

Well, the part about going with Mel Gibson is true.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 6:40 PM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have been baffled all day by the responses to this as a "coming out" speech. And I don't think her point was complaining about not having privacy, so much as referencing the difficulty maintaining her privacy probably has been over her 43 year career. I'm guessing due to some of her personal choices her career path has not been as easy as one would expect of someone with her talent and experience.

I thought it was a lovely speech. I think some of the criticism of the speech as being angry, or inappropriate or crazy shows just how comfortable and reliant the culture has become with the fake presentations of humanity that we see on tv.
posted by billyfleetwood at 6:47 PM on January 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


There's a lot to unpack here. If she doesn't want to say "I'm gay" (which, unless someone has a citation, she never ever has in public), that's her right, and yes to the unique stress of John Hinckley, Jr. as well as that of numerous activists trying to shame her into coming out because they thought Silence of the Lambs was transphobic. But the thing about perfumes is a cheap shot (k.d. lang came out a couple of decades ago in the most offhanded manner possible, in a magazine interview--GQ, I think), and whatever she thinks she owes Mel Gibson can't be that much. The speech was weird and rambling even before she came to the not-coming-out-and-fuck-you-if-you-have-a-problem-with-that part, and whatever is keeping her from those two little words, she's punishing herself by hanging on to it.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:49 PM on January 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Let's all gather around and talk about respecting Jodie Foster's privacy while speculating about her sexuality.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:55 PM on January 14, 2013 [36 favorites]


That was a hell of an emotional apparently-off-the-cuff speech. I think it would have been great if she'd been one of the trailblazers on being publicly out for years, but not everyone can be a trailblazer. I'm of the opinion that she gets to be as twitchy about privacy as she'd like to be - she paid her dues on that with years of John Hinkley's weirdness. She was a college freshman (iirc) when he shot Reagan. I can't imagine having that kind of freaky exposure and being the focus of a crazy guy at that age and for however long *before* that he was sending her letters or whatever, all before she was old enough to rent a car. And all that coming after spending years being a kid and a teenager who was the primary breadwinner for her family.

I think it's great that she's being at least some more publicly open about her sexuality, because I think everyone should be able to be comfortable and open with their sexuality. I think there's a middle ground between "everyone up in your business" with relationship trivia and scandals and whatnot in the press, and not even speaking about it at all, but I can see her rationale in choosing the latter as a way to avoid the risk of the former. I do think it's great that she felt comfortable acknowledging her ex-partner as part of acknowledging and thanking all of her family.

Also, I don't think I'd seen her kids before - they're adorable.

I hope her new adventures or whatever don't mean that she's retiring from the entertainment industry - she's a smart and talented woman, and I've enjoyed a lot of her work in the past and hope to enjoy more of it in the future.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:56 PM on January 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Awkward? Yes. A peculiar acceptance speech? Yeh.

(I mean wasn't that suppose to be an acceptance speech? It did ironically turn into a one-way press conference despite her jab at them.)

However, it was genuine, and I mean genuinely human, emotional, and telling of the messy world of LGBT people. For that reason, I cannot be critical of the speech like some others. Jodie Foster might be a fine actress, but I don't expect her to skillfully travel through the rest of life. She did what she could manage given she was going against the grain.
posted by thetoken at 6:56 PM on January 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I respect Jodi Foster as an actress, she's one of the best. I pretty much love everything she's done. I also believe she has a right to whatever level of privacy in her life that she would like to claim, as we all do.

The speech was uncomfortable. It felt rehearsed, it rambled, her affect went from believable to plastic and back again in a nanosecond, several times.

A few words, sincerely spoken, could have communicated her thoughts, but that's not what happened.
posted by HuronBob at 6:59 PM on January 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


Interesting to hear folks say it felt spontaneous and off the cuff, I had just the opposite impression....
posted by HuronBob at 7:01 PM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm on the "bizarre and uncomfortable" side. I was squirming in my seat wishing for it to be over. Not because of the content as much as the rambling, incoherent delivery.

I really would love to know what the deal is with her and Mel Gibson. That relationship, and her staunch, unwavering defense of his frankly indefensible behavior, just doesn't make any sense at all.
posted by something something at 7:03 PM on January 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Jodi Foster recently write a Daily Beast artcile in the right to privacy w/r/t that whole Kristen Stewart thing
posted by The Whelk at 7:04 PM on January 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


She made me bawl. My cousin said her speech was equal parts beautiful and train wreck, a point which I conceded, but the entire thing was full of win.
posted by PuppyCat at 7:07 PM on January 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Jodie Foster: "I mean, can I get a wolf whistle?"

*immediate cut to Mel Gibson*

eww.
posted by koeselitz at 7:08 PM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Jodie Foster is utterly perfect.

I felt like I was holding her hand, hugging her and encouraging her, from my screen, through every word of that speech. It was beautiful and I felt she spoke to me sincerely...as a nobody person a million miles away.

If she wrote that, she's a poet as well as a gifted actor and director. If she extemporised that, she's a genius and an international treasure.

Rock on Jodie Foster, rock on.
posted by taff at 7:09 PM on January 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


Compare her speech to that of Daniel Day Lewis acceptance speech. It would have been nice to hear a tad more humility.
posted by uraniumwilly at 7:16 PM on January 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


> I'm on the "bizarre and uncomfortable" side. I was squirming in my seat wishing for it to be over.

I was starting to wonder if Foster was daring the GG producers to start up the "time to get off the stage music" by going on for so long and so aimlessly.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:18 PM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I, too, was surprised to see it characterized as a coming out speech when it seemed to me to be more about her life, her career, her not meeting certain public expectations (i.e., announcing her sexuality as part of a reality show) - basically, it was an acceptance speech, so it touched on a number of things.

It sounded disjointed to me when she gave it, and her revved up energy added to my confusion, but reading the transcript gave me a much different impression. I found it more personal and passionate and like she was looking back.

ABC News has the transcript here
posted by Ink-stained wretch at 7:24 PM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I thought it was a surprising, occasionally awkward speech that was much more thoughtful and heartfelt than similar award speeches I've heard by others. Also, her comments about her mom made me cry. So, that was lovely.
posted by onlyconnect at 7:24 PM on January 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


The reaction to her speech has been really interesting, baffling, and difficult for me. I think that what I'm seeing is that are lots of different reactions to it because we're all reacting based on the element of the speech that's most important to us, personally. Because it sounded rambling, we hear the words and then interpret them so they fit what we think she was really trying to say.

I don't think it was rambling at all. (I also don't think it was off-the-cuff.) I think she wanted to address the elephant in the room, and she employed the sandwich method of delivering big news. 1) Somewhat irrelevant info. (We here at Acme Corp pride ourselves on yada yada.) 2) Deliver the news. (We will not be hiring you.) 3) Cushion the exit. (Thank you for your application and we wish you the best in your endeavors.).

It's so hard for me, this whole thing, because it sounds like the reactions [not here, but everywhere] are saying a) she didn't come out WHEN she should have, and b) she didn't come out LIKE she should have. All this assumes that, being a public figure, we have a right to know, and she owes us something.

I think she touches on all of that. She stated in her speech that she's been out for ages. ("I already did my coming out about a thousand years ago back in the Stone Age, in those very quaint days when a fragile young girl would open up to trusted friends and family and co-workers and then gradually, proudly to everyone who knew her, to everyone she actually met.) But people still say, she didn't follow our schedule.

She acknowledges in her speech that people will be disappointed about the words she uses. ("I'm hope that you're not disappointed that there won't be a big coming out speech tonight.")

I mean, what the fuck do we want? She's right -- that IS enough, or it should be, and it's more than she should have had to give.

But here we are, still talking about it.

I absolutely believe that she was scared shitless, and was downplaying the whole thing a bit because she was afraid. The tremor in her voice was the same as the one I heard in my own when I had to tell MY parents.

I'm all for people in the public eye (or hell, in the office) being examples of how it's usually not that hard to have a normal life as a gay person now. I wish there had been more of that when I was growing up. I wish one of them had been Jodie Foster, because I've had a crush on her for as long as I can remember, and that would have normalized some of my fantasy life.

But you know? We all walk our own path, and we all deal with what's important -- the people in our immediate lives. Those people are more important than the Greater Good. I can even excuse her for Mel Gibson. What I know about him is that he tends to get drunk and get caught on camera spouting insults to Jews and gays. But I don't actually know him. People who do might see the real him. The rest of us just see what's presented to us.

And I guess that brings me back to point A.

Love Jodie Foster. Glad she could say something publicly. Don't like our sense of entitlement about the whole thing -- and I say that as someone who has long wanted her to be the gay icon that I've always found her to be.
posted by mudpuppie at 7:26 PM on January 14, 2013 [48 favorites]


I felt like I was holding her hand, hugging her and encouraging her, from my screen, through every word of that speech. It was beautiful and I felt she spoke to me sincerely...as a nobody person a million miles away.

Yes, agreed. It's clear she was nervous as hell, but it was beautifully honest in a way that many things in show business aren't.

It would have been nice to hear a tad more humility.

Pft. She's given her life to the public. That was the point, I think. She's at a point in her career where she wants to figure out what her life and her art need to be on their own terms. I mean, it was a lifetime achievement award--hasn't she earned it? She has every right to speak the truth of her life with swagger, with hesitation, and with awkwardness. I, for one, feel honored that she shared that with me.

I thought maybe she was announcing her retirement, if only because the audience looked very touched and solemn whenever the camera panned over to them.

It was also a retirement speech.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:28 PM on January 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


The length (and frankly, lack of humility) of the speech is excusable because it was a lifetime achievement award. The rest... has been covered here.

She had an opportunity once upon a time to be a trailblazer. She chose not to be, which is both her choice and totally understandable given how she was treated by the press in 1981. We know all kinds of lesbians who had the chance to come out but didn't (and many who did who we should celebrate) but not one of them had to testify at a presidential assassin's trial.

Does she seem bitter? Yep. Might that be because she taken a lot of shit about her personal choices? Probably. Do I know her at all? Nope.

I wish her well (despite Mel Gibson because wtf?)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:31 PM on January 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I didn't watch the awards, but my favorite reported bit from the show was the announcement that Meryl Streep was staying home because she has the flu, "and I hear she is AMAZING in it".
posted by hippybear at 7:32 PM on January 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


See, I don't think it was even a retirement speech. I think she was just acknowledging that, as a 50-year-old woman, she's going to be on the screen less. It didn't sound at all to me like she was planning on going away.

(Which leads me back to my point about how I all think we heard what we wanted to.)

And now, I'll go back to Downton Abbey. There's trouble brewing in Edith land.
posted by mudpuppie at 7:32 PM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm also sad that this is sucking up all the media attention because I wish the story of the night had been that Tina Fey and Amy Pohler should be drafted as the Official Hosts of All Things Forever. They were, to a moment, perfection.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:36 PM on January 14, 2013 [18 favorites]


The speech seemed weird to me because her tone was all over the map and I'd thought she'd come out long ago so a coming-out speech seemed odd.

Jodie Foster says she’s not retiring from acting despite confusion over acceptance speech for Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award
posted by kirkaracha at 7:38 PM on January 14, 2013


Yeah, having finally watched the speech I guess I don't understand the poor reaction to this in some circles.

Was it the Sermon on the Mount? No.

Was it OK and at points obviously scripted and at points so genuine as to have a break-down moment? Yes.

I don't expect much of Jodie Foster at this point, but it's good to see her being sane and relatively well-adjusted after everything she's been through. Don't we talk here all the time about the demise of child stars? She's one who made it to 50, and still looks and seemingly is great.
posted by rollbiz at 7:38 PM on January 14, 2013


Jodie Foster is great. I'm not particularly interested in who she is married to, although I do wish her happiness, and I would hope that I am not contributing to her unhappiness, and might be able to help in some way if needed.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:39 PM on January 14, 2013


As to the Mel Gibson thing, I've read on more than one occasion of Mel Gibson being a one-man intervention squad for Hollywood folk hitting rock bottom with their various drug/alcohol/personal demon type situations. Despite being a pretty reprehensible public figure as of late I'm guessing his continued good graces in Hollywood come from having talked a lot of people off of a lot of ledges.
posted by billyfleetwood at 7:41 PM on January 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


She had an opportunity once upon a time to be a trailblazer. She chose not to be, which is both her choice and totally understandable given how she was treated by the press in 1981.

Do celebrities have some sort of responsibility to be trailblazers? I thought their responsibility end when the credits start to roll.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:42 PM on January 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


It's so hard for me, this whole thing, because it sounds like the reactions [not here, but everywhere] are saying a) she didn't come out WHEN she should have, and b) she didn't come out LIKE she should have. All this assumes that, being a public figure, we have a right to know, and she owes us something.

You know, I don't really give a fuck about Jodie Foster's sexuality, and I completely respect her position of not talking about her personal life to the press. Even if she hadn't grown up a celebrity, even if she hadn't been the target of a stalker who tried to assassinate the president, that's her right. That's everyone's right. But I sort of felt like last night, she came into my living room to say "I've got a secret but I'm not going to tell you what it is, because it's none of your business." Okay? Then don't bring it up?
posted by donajo at 7:45 PM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


She was sitting right up front with her sons and their other mom. To not say something is to say something much worse.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:48 PM on January 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I realized I'd seen only one of the films included in that montage. I guess I'm not much of a Jodie Foster fan. Of course, they didn't include Little Foxes, the most lesbian of her films.

While it's been a very open rumor in the LGBT community as long as I can remember that she was gay, she pretty definitively came out in 2007 when she thanked her then-gf in a public statement. I think it didn't get much attention because it wasn't much of a surprise to anyone.

This didn't seem much like a coming out, or an anything speech to me. I am with those who found it rambling and confusing. I felt like she was trying to be funny, and too something to actually BE funny. She didn't say she's gay. She did, again, thank her now ex-partner.

She doesn't need to come out, no one does, although I will absolutely judge people with her level of privilege who don't come out, because they are contributing to a homophobic culture that implies shame on those who are queer. But, even with that, she doesn't owe me, or any other queer person, anything.
posted by gingerbeer at 7:49 PM on January 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


It seemed rehearsed? Hell, I'm just grateful she's willing to acknowledge they actually rehearse those things.
posted by Apropos of Something at 7:49 PM on January 14, 2013


She was sitting right up front with her sons and their other mom. To not say something is to say something much worse.

She has thanked her (ex-?)partner and mentioned her kids in public before. The fact of them is not news. Dancing around some sort of announcement, and then telling us to fuck off for wanting to know, was the off-putting part to me.
posted by donajo at 7:52 PM on January 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Do celebrities have some sort of responsibility to be trailblazers?

I don't think so. But it's classless to ignore those who did blaze the trails so that in 2013, you can ride them.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:53 PM on January 14, 2013


I think the point that she was making was that she was always out by evidence of the partner and the kids with her - she didn't ever need to say 'I'm gay' because she just was gay; she was out by just living her life. She strikes me as someone who is stubbornly against people trying to force her to bend to their will. Many people seem to want her to say 'I'm gay' as if it's somehow more indicative of her being gay than her just, you know, being gay.

I actually think the difficulty she has is being 50 and single (as well as her mother's condition). I don't think she really expected that - most people don't and many people don't handle it well.
posted by heyjude at 7:56 PM on January 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


Back in the early 1980s, I used to work in an office just up the block from Jodie Foster's house. I parked right in front of her house or on her block almost daily. We saw each other coming and going often enough to know each other by sight, and recognize that we were both part of the neighborhood. I couldn't decide if it was weirder that I had a passing acquaintance with her, or that even after Hinckley, she had a normal enough personal life to have a passing acquaintance with some random guy like me that parked on the street.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:06 PM on January 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I was surprised by her speech, but mostly because I had thought that she'd come out years ago

I was aware she was gay — it's been an open secret for years and years. I had never thought she had ever come out publicly. I still don't think she really came out the other night. Almost, though.

It's a tough thing to do. I have had to recently decide whether to do it with extended family who grew up when being gay wasn't cool. So I don't begrudge her anything. She doesn't owe me anything. I just don't think that her speech is quite what people seem to think it is, though, and so the reaction seems strange, to me.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:14 PM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I'm ready for my close-up Mr. DeMille"

And if you clowns aren't ready for me, then f*ck off.

Go Jodie
posted by Freedomboy at 8:27 PM on January 14, 2013


After your stalker shoots the President in an attempt to impress you, you probably are entitled to a free pass if you're a bit weird about privacy.

Prolly because the SS thinks you're a danger, by proxy, to the President.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:35 PM on January 14, 2013


I also didn't really see this as the 'coming out' speech the media and blogosphere seem to have picked up on. To me, it was a lovely speech, and one in which Foster talked about the journey that has led her to where she is now, accepting a Lifetime Achievement Award. It almost seems like maybe she felt compelled to talk about the 'elephant in the room,' but wasn't totally comfortable with how she'd go about it, and maybe that's why she sort of addresses it but also skirts around it. I thought it was actually kind of charming, because as others have said, she doesn't have to say "I'm gay" to, in fact, communicate that same point.

The Guardian has this neat rhetorical break down of her speech which I found interesting, particularly for those who didn't care for the speech or thought it was rambling! She did seem nervous to me at first, and that is why it felt so genuine. I'm not surprised the speech was so well-written--she is a brilliant woman, by all accounts. And on a totally unrelated note, her kids are darling (and it looks like the older one is going to be very handsome à la Damian Lewis).
posted by nonmerci at 8:37 PM on January 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


The Guardian has this neat rhetorical break down of her speech...

Actually, yeh. I see it like that now. Brillant, though I still find the speech choppy and thus awkward in that regard. Perfection, however, is a rather overrated concept.
posted by thetoken at 9:14 PM on January 14, 2013


After seeing a few cryptic references on twitter, I watched the clip.

What struck me was not so much 'is she coming out/is she not', but how much the delivery and mannerisms were 'teenage Jodie Foster'.

After years of, frankly, dour roles about serious women, it was great to be reminded of the charisma she displayed in those cheesy late 70's Disney movies (Candleshoe, Freaky Friday, etc).

I'd love to see her do some light-hearted comedy again.
posted by madajb at 9:30 PM on January 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I heard rambling, gabbling, defensiveness, a sense of being consciously led in one direction and then being abruptly asked, "Why did you go that way, asshole?"

Who gives a damn whether Jodie Foster is out? There was a time when that might have meant something, but now at most it's going to result in her getting a few invitations to sit on honorary boards of gay foundations and charities that in large part exist to provide overpaid power gays with an excuse to throw a party.

As for her taking the opportunity of receiving an award from her peers to sneer at people who chose a different route in the (almost always necessary) outing process from the one she, thanks to her position of enormous privilege and wealth, was able to select for herself, I say she can go fuck herself and all her fancy friends as well.

Foster is a very talented woman, but I really don't care for her at all as a human being. She's a 50-year old brat who had the chance to do a good deed half a lifetime ago but chose instead to live a lie so she could remain bankable for great cinematic works of art like Maverick.
posted by La Cieca at 9:47 PM on January 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Huh, okay. Now I'm confused by the reaction to this.

I thought it was wonderful last night. I'm not seeing where any of the accusations of caginess or "not actually coming out" are coming from. She acknowledged the glass closet of her life, joked about it, said that she'd been out to people she knew personally since forever, thanked her ex-partner... Is there etiquette I'm unaware of?

And while I'm gracious of the bravery of those trailblazers mentioned by roomthreeseventeen, well, yeah, Harvey Milk was shot. A lot of good people were killed or beaten or ostracized for coming out. Would it have been brave for Jodie Foster to come out among them? It sure would have, but given not just the media treatment of her post-Hinckley but the very real, visceral understanding of personally having become the focal point for violent acts in strangers, yeah, I think she gets a pass for doing things quietly.

But I'm not gay, I don't know everything about all of this. I thought it was a wonderful speech.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:51 PM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is there etiquette I'm unaware of?

Not sneering at how other people have chosen to come out is a good place to start.
posted by La Cieca at 9:58 PM on January 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


That's fair. I guess I just didn't read it like that. It came across more to me like sneering how others expected her, personally, to come out. But I guess if there was a sly dig at k.d. lang in there like someone alluded to...
posted by Navelgazer at 10:06 PM on January 14, 2013


She is only 50 years old and has done more than 40 movies and more than 30 different TV series.
posted by JackFlash at 10:06 PM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Navelgazer: The thing is -- and I apologize in advance for sounding patronizing and preachy-- coming out is an issue in every gay person's life, and it is uniquely a gay issue. Straight people do not bear this burden, and I wonder if straight people can quite understand what bearing this burden is like.

This "shared burden," I think, is an important reason for gay solidarity, in the sense that a shared burden is lighter. And further, enjoying a certain level of privilege (white, male, middle-class, educated) I have the perk of being able to do my part of sharing that burden at relatively little cost or danger to me.

Other people find the burden extremely onerous; some simply can't bear it and end up dead or living in misery. So it follows, I think, that the burden can use some more sharing. What makes me angry is that Jodie Foster has had for many years now the ability and the opportunity to "share," but she's chosen solipsism over altruism.

Again, coming out is extremely personal and nobody needs to be telling anyone else how he or she has to do it, so I'm not condemning Foster outright for making the set of choices she made. What does get me angry, however, is that she has apparently now decided that it is in her self-interest to make herself however much outer she is now than she was last week, and she has chosen to take that step in a venue unavailable to virtually all of humanity, and she chose to ease her own coming out by making a snarky joke about how other people have handled the same difficult process.

It's not enough she makes her coming out all about herself but she has to go and make everyone else's coming out sound tacky and stupid: "I'm the great Jodie Foster, and all you other loser fags are Honey Boo Boo."

When Vice President Biden made his now-celebrated remarks about marriage equality last year, one of the things he said "when things really begin to change is when the social culture changes." He alluded to television shows like Will and Grace but an even deeper part of "social culture" is the understanding that everyone in our society has friends and family members who are gay. But there's no way to know they're gay unless they're out.

So there's the reason that I think trumps Foster's privacy: there are millions of people who know her and respect her because of her talent and her celebrity. If they know she's gay, then that means millions of people have the experience of knowing and respecting a gay person, and that sense of familiarity and respect can transfer to both the gay community at large and, more to the point, to the individual gay stranger. There is the value in Foster's coming out in a timely and decisive fashion, and not when she realizes, "I'm 50 and I'm not going to be considered for romantic leads anyway, so what the hell?"
posted by La Cieca at 10:50 PM on January 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


I always get a bit itchy when uberfamous, uberwaelthy people who have consistently sought said fame (want privacy? Don't star in Hollywood movies) start wittering on about privacy, especially in the service of not quite coming out. Yeah, everybody knows she's gay, but why not for once in your live actually coming out for it and say you're gay?

It's not prurient interest that makes people want to hear a famous actress like her to acknowledge her sexual orientation after all, it's the simple fact that there are still far too few openly out and proud gay people to serve as role models and it would've been nice to see somebody as "normal" (sic) as Foster be properly out.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:54 PM on January 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


@La Cieca: Since when are Fear and Identity Issues just a Gay Affair?!

Plus not every Country is so homophobic as the US, so I am pretty much bored by these endless Threads of political Correctness and self-centred Gay Activism.

The Question of Self-Expression and your own Sexuality are Human Rights - anyone can be squeezed in by cultural, moral and political Barriers.

It would be great if the so called Gay/Lesbian-Activism would sometimes be a little bit more "generic" and not so self-centred (like going Bonkers when an old rich Person makes a Publicity Stunt mostly for her own Benefit) ...
posted by homodigitalis at 11:17 PM on January 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Thanks, La Cieca, that was very nicely put.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:46 PM on January 14, 2013


Yeah, everybody knows she's gay, but why not for once in your live actually coming out for it and say you're gay?

Maybe she just doesn't like the label?
posted by Chuckles at 11:57 PM on January 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


From The Whelk's Kristen Stewart piece link:

I have been an actress since I was 3 years old, 46 years to date. I have no memories of a childhood outside the public eye. I am told people look to me as a success story. Often complete strangers approach me and ask, How have you stayed so normal, so well-adjusted, so private? I usually lie and say, “Just boring I guess.” The truth is, like some curious radioactive mutant, I have invented my own gothic survival tools. I have fashioned rules to control the glaring eyes. Maybe I’ve organized my career choices to allow myself (and the ones I truly love) maximum personal dignity. And, yes, I have neurotically adapted to the gladiator sport of celebrity culture, the cruelty of a life lived as a moving target. In my era, through discipline and force of will, you could still manage to reach for a star-powered career and have the authenticity of a private life. Sure, you’d have to lose your spontaneity in the elaborate architecture. You’d have to learn to submerge beneath the foul air and breathe through a straw. But at least you could stand up and say, I will not willfully participate in my own exploitation. Not anymore. If I were a young actor or actress starting my career today in the new era of social media and its sanctioned hunting season, would I survive? Would I drown myself in drugs, sex, and parties? Would I be lost?

I’ve said it before and I will say it again: if I were a young actor today I would quit before I started. If I had to grow up in this media culture, I don’t think I could survive it emotionally. I would only hope that someone who loved me, really loved me, would put their arm around me and lead me away to safety. Sarah Tobias would never have danced before her rapists in The Accused. Clarice would never have shared the awful screaming of the lambs to Dr. Lecter. Another actress might surely have taken my place, opened her soul to create those characters, surrendered her vulnerabilities. But would she have survived the paparazzi peering into her windows, the online harassment, the public humiliations, without overdosing in a hotel room or sticking her face with needles until she became unrecognizable even to herself?


While I can certainly sympathise with the desire to want popular public figures to be out, to provide real examples for straights and make life easier for those truly burdened by or at risk of harm if they express their sexuality; equally I think we don't get to toss people on the BBQ of media culture either, even if they are public figures.

Nail them for hypocrisy if they're closeted and yet actively make life harder for others, fair enough. But Jodie Foster, as a child actor has had a hard enough time of it already in the public eye. And that's even without Hinkley, which frankly would excuse a lot larger peccadillos than coming-out-but-not-really at an acceptance speech for an award which effectively is Hollywood saying 'you're too old to be an actor any more'.
posted by ArkhanJG at 12:02 AM on January 15, 2013 [15 favorites]


What happened to respecting everyone's decision to come out-- the how, the when, even the whether of it-- as private and personal? When confronted with people saying, "We demand you respond to these rumors," I can only side with Ms. Foster. Since when has there been an obligation to cheerfully admit to being outed, and to say it using the words other people want you to say? This was a great speech, and I certainly hope it was written beforehand, because most great speeches are. And it totally counts as a coming out speech, but only a public version, because you weren't in the room for the private version, because she didn't owe you an invitation to that. I think she did it now because, how often do you win a lifetime award for your work, and god, if not now then when, and won't it feel good to finally say something, and I can only be happy for her, because I think it was still hard for her to do. In fact, it's all the more moving because it's been an open secret for so long. I believe those who are angry at her are thinking mostly of themselves, and that's fine because how could they think of her when they don't truly know her? But I am happy for her.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 12:58 AM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


No one was making her talk about her sexual orientation in a speech for lifetime achievement in film. She brought it up.

Exactly. It was a mess.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 1:13 AM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


coming out is an issue in every gay person's life, and it is uniquely a gay issue. Straight people do not bear this burden, and I wonder if straight people can quite understand what bearing this burden is like.

Don't poke me in the face for trivialising how difficult coming out is, but when I spoke to family and employers when I was diagnosed with a stigmatizing illness, I did at the time think that this must be what it's like to tell people about your sexuality and the difficult moment before you see them take it in and react. From the 'shared burden' point of view, there are two prominent people I can think of with my condition in the minds of most people, one of which has national treasure status and a chequered past, the other a trainwreck reality TV star mostly famous for plastic surgery and custody battles whose troubled interview performance led to a lot of assumptions about the condition, when what would be helpful for me personally is a public figure who gets on with their life and is successful as an example of how I'm not that weird.

While it's not the same, the similarities in terms of this being somethign that's a big part of my life and could easily define my life in the eyes of some makes me question whether as a straight person I would have no understanding of the process involved in revealing somethign personal and difficult to people.
posted by mippy at 1:52 AM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


"No one was making her talk about her sexual orientation in a speech for lifetime achievement in film. She brought it up. And thanked the homophobic, anti-Semite Mel Gibson."

Foster clearly thinks of Gibson as family, and family is complicated. No matter how many awful, embarrassing things he says or does, she will not give up on him, even as she acknowledges the terrible mistakes he's made. We should all be so lucky, to have a sister like that.

Foster had come out before, but so far as I know, this was the first time she stood on a stage and told the whole world. There's coming out to your family, there's coming out in a magazine, and then there's coming out in front of everybody, all at once. She did fine.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:53 AM on January 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


I always get a bit itchy when uberfamous, uberwaelthy people who have consistently sought said fame (want privacy? Don't star in Hollywood movies) start wittering on about privacy, especially in the service of not quite coming out.

Yeah, I normally feel exactly the same way.

But when someone has been stalked by an insane person who ended up trying to assassinate the president in service of their obsession with you, I'm happy to cut them a bit of slack.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:58 AM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I thought the whole thing was directed to her children, her family and her friends, which is why we saw awkward or random or peculiar. It was - to me - essentially a moment of satire to show that she is frank and open and loving with the persons in her life closest to her and that private events by the their very nature end up seeming scattered and clumsy when they are played out, or are dragged out, into the public sphere. Jodie Foster, of all people, is entitled to have a fairly skeptical and perhaps even warped view about the nature of privacy and this acceptance speech seemed to me to be a bit of performance art, riffing on the general topic among one of the most neurotic collections of people on the planet.

I don't really like the way people make judgments about the characters of others from the timing and the manner by which they reveal aspects of their private life, such as their sexuality, as though they owe it to someone or some group beyond their private circle. Anyway, I've been a big fan since forever and after the whole Hinckley madness, I've just hoped she had some peace in her life. I felt a bit like an intruder seeing the speech, but I thought afterwards that it was just a bit of leg pulling and she seems like her head's screwed on ok.
posted by peacay at 2:16 AM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


MartinWisse: "I always get a bit itchy when uberfamous, uberwaelthy people who have consistently sought said fame (want privacy? Don't star in Hollywood movies) start wittering on about privacy, especially in the service of not quite coming out."

I agree that one can make a practical decision to avoid fame in the interest of personal privacy, although I must note that many celebrities first find fame at a young age and might not fully grasp its effects on their personal life. Foster is an especially apt example in this regard.

But I've never understood how this would work as a moral argument. Are celebrities not entitled to the same rights as unfamous mortals? If people feel compelled to make books or films or songs should they simply refrain from creative expression or else relinquish their privacy?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 2:17 AM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I thought it was a great speech. She was accepting a Lifetime Achievement award so she was talking about her life as a very successful actor and how she was able to maintain a true and honest life outside of acting by not talking about her private life to the media. No confirming, no denying. Just not available for public view. And that's what I thought all the talk of reality tv and magazine covers was about; not sneering at those who'd gone that path but at the relentless push for it by the tabloid media and how trying to avoid that as much as possible had allowed her to have an authentic life, away from the public view.

50 is a big milestone. 47 years in the same industry is exceptional. She wanted to talk about herself and her life as an actor and how she's got through it so far. She did it in her own way, no paraphrasing (although that's obviously happening now, big time) and with emotion and passion, because when you're accepting a Lifetime Acheivement Award at the age of 50 I reckon you get carte blanche when it comes to talking about deeply personal shit, particularly when you haven't really done it before.

The part about her mother was heartbreaking and beautiful.

As for the whole retirement thing, I think it was her saying that she has an entire second act to come. Maybe this award is a demarcation in a kind of way. What comes next could be smaller but it will be no less important and it will be done in her way. It probably won't include media headlines about her private life so perhaps the entire speech was her acknowledgement that people are interested in that part of her so she went okay here's what I'm thinking as I'm thinking it, enjoy it because I probably won't do it again.

I really like Jodie Foster.
posted by h00py at 2:40 AM on January 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


"(want privacy? Don't star in Hollywood movies)"

If Foster had quit acting when she was 15 years old, people would still be talking about her.

I think it was John Waters who said that once you're famous, you'll probably never be totally un-famous, as long as you live. Gary Coleman spent decades in a ghastly celebrity purgatory, a broke has-been who was too famous for a normal job. Sure, after your star has fallen, the magazines won't care about you anymore, people won't stop you for autographs, etc. But even if you end up pumping gas someplace, there will still come that grim moment when somebody says, "Oh my god, didn't you used to be..."
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:50 AM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


> "want privacy? Don't star in Hollywood movies"

Ugh. Really?

She's askin' for lack-of-privacy, because sometimes she gives it away for free?
posted by kyrademon at 3:57 AM on January 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


subdee: "I was watching, I am gay, and I didn't realize it was a coming out speech until I read it in the news later... of course, I wasn't paying a lot of attention. It was a very muddled speech, though. I thought maybe she was announcing her retirement, if only because the audience looked very touched and solemn whenever the camera panned over to them. Some of them must have had an idea, or figured it out midway through.

It's never too late to come out and one more on the books never hurts, though.
"

EXACTLY. When I saw this, I was all "Coming out speech?" All I heard was something that sounded like a Markov chain.

Cortex, when did you start speechwriting?
posted by Samizdata at 4:07 AM on January 15, 2013


Oh, and before anyone jumps me, I am bi and out.
posted by Samizdata at 4:20 AM on January 15, 2013


What was that all about? And what was all that shit about Vietnam?
posted by surplus at 4:42 AM on January 15, 2013


I always get a bit itchy when uberfamous, uberwaelthy people who have consistently sought said fame (want privacy? Don't star in Hollywood movies) start wittering on about privacy


You know, I'm not famous, but I'm being deprived of my privacy. I Google my name or my family's name and all this stuff comes up: my age, my home address, how much my home's worth, who I'm related to or friends with, and a lot more.

So when Foster talks about how "people will look back and remember how beautiful it once was", I think she means when both she and I could still have a reasonable--if slightly varied--expectation of privacy. Nowadays, I have to deal with Google and Facebook violating my privacy, and satellites putting photos of my house online, and cameras recording my every move in public, and store cards recording what I purchase, and Foster has to deal with ALL of that plus TMZ.com and quadrillion other celebrity gossip web sites.


We ALL need to be wittering on about privacy, not just Foster.
posted by magstheaxe at 5:04 AM on January 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


Foster is a very talented woman, but I really don't care for her at all as a human being. She's a 50-year old brat who had the chance to do a good deed half a lifetime ago but chose instead to live a lie so she could remain bankable for great cinematic works of art like Maverick.

When has Jodie Foster ever "lived a lie"? I don't recall her ever going on talk shows and jumping on couches and exclaiming about how in love she was with some guy, or in fact with anyone. That was the point of her speech -- that she spent the last fifty years simply living her life, and that if people assumed she was living some other life, well, that was their problem, not hers.

Yes, she had the chance to come out decades ago. She also had the chance to do many other "good deeds" over the years -- do you dislike her because she didn't sail with Greenpeace or nurse an orphan or become a volunteer firefighter?
posted by Etrigan at 6:58 AM on January 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


I watched the speech because of all the commotion. What I got from it was that Jodie Foster is in it for Jodie. She doesn't want to be on your team, or my team, or anybody's team. I can see why some people would get upset over that. But when you've navigated the murky waters of showbusiness for almost half a century without wrecking yourself, I can see how you might feel that you don't owe anybody anything.
posted by deo rei at 7:06 AM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Subtlety seems to be underrated these days. I read her speech as playfully flirting with the fact that everyone knew, and her subtly acknowledging she was in the know about their knowing. Some might have viewed that as awkward, but I thought it was rather elegant, graceful and teasing.

To be honest, I don't know where we got to the idea that everyone who's gay has to do a big, cookie-cutter announcement to be a model gay. I don't think everyone's like that - not by nature of discomfort, but simply by nature of personality. I find it crude that we're calling Jodie cowardly and profit-focused because she prefers to show, not say. And she does show by the way she lives out her life, otherwise we wouldn't be calling it a glass closet.

I think Jodie is trying to express this in her speech: she comes off as a little sad that she can't be seen as who she is without screaming and fighting and going against everything she is. Because the thing is: that's more of a proper reflection of the real world. Why should we have to pressure every gay person out there to be big and public about their most private, inner aspects?
posted by Conspire at 7:10 AM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


It was a good speech, and I don't see what what so controversial about it. She came out years ago, right? The stuff about her Mother and all the dust in my living room was what got to me.
posted by Renoroc at 7:18 AM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I really would love to know what the deal is with her and Mel Gibson. That relationship, and her staunch, unwavering defense of his frankly indefensible behavior, just doesn't make any sense at all.

I can see where it would be confusing from a distance (celebrities), but doesn't it make a little bit of sense if you bring it in closer?

Everyone has someone they love who has fucked up ideas, a despicable aspect to their personality, or who has done some fucked up shit. I'm sure a lot of people were friends with Mel Gibson when it was socially acceptable. Not everyone is brave enough to publicly and loudly acknowledge their friendship to someone whose failings have been made in the public eye and even more so when that person has become something of a cultural pariah.

I have a lot of time for people who are loyal friends, so kudos to Jodie Foster for that.
posted by snottydick at 7:29 AM on January 15, 2013


Count me among the detractors.

That she could come out to friends and people in her immediate circle 'a thousand years ago', but the greater world not know beyond the level of a reasonable guess, to me that goes to show how much privacy she's enjoyed over the years.

As well, the only thing keeping Foster's sexuality a story was her refusal to say. Like Jessica Chastain's age, it's only of public interest because the refusal to say. Had Foster come out X years ago, it would have been a story for a news cycle or two, and then relegated to a simple, boring fact. Foster is, as I see it, partly responsible for keeping that story alive, and for the intrusions on privacy that came with it. (Which is not to say that those intrusions were justified, as her sexuality is no-one's business but hers, but that's not how showbiz works, is it?)

And yeah. She's in showbiz. Showbiz has as its foundation getting the public interested in you and your product. If you want a life in showbiz, you're going to have to give up some privacy. If you don't like that, you can always quit being a movie star, and retire to a ranch in Idaho or something, where no-one will care about you anymore. No-one is making her stay a movie star.

As for not coming out earlier, well, that's her right and her choice. I don't think she was doing the next generation of gays any favours, though, if someone having as safe and a privileged position in life as her doesn't come out, emphasizing that being gay is no big deal. (I think she could have come out safely years ago, that it wouldn't have had the career impact that it would have had for, say, Rock Hudson.)

Idunno. I felt uncomfortable watching the speech, in much the same way as I did for the Charlie Sheen meltdown a while back. Clearly, she's got some personal issues to work through, and maybe this public forum really isn't the right place.

Who knows what her intent was? I hope she got what she was looking for, whatever it is. And I'm glad that others have found it a more positive and inspiring speech than I did.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:34 AM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


She's in showbiz. Showbiz has as its foundation getting the public interested in you and your product. If you want a life in showbiz, you're going to have to give up some privacy. If you don't like that, you can always quit being a movie star, and retire to a ranch in Idaho or something, where no-one will care about you anymore. No-one is making her stay a movie star.

Seems like she's had a life in showbiz for forty-plus years without giving up all of her privacy. She's not complaining that she isn't getting jobs because people have demanded to know her sexual orientation.
posted by Etrigan at 7:39 AM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Subtlety seems to be underrated these days. I read her speech as playfully flirting with the fact that everyone knew, and her subtly acknowledging she was in the know about their knowing. Some might have viewed that as awkward, but I thought it was rather elegant, graceful and teasing.

It didn't come across as the least bit subtle to me - she led everyone directly to the edge with the seemingly emotional set up, and then delivered a very light-night host type ba-dum-bum line - "my big, difficult, personal secret is... I'm single!"

After that she seemed to scold the audience for expecting her to have wanted her to tell the original story, and by association she seemed to be scolding her peers who had had emotional coming out moments. "You thought I was going to share something personal? Well it's none of your damn business (and all my real friends already know)." Ok, well then why act like you were about to? that just seems manipulative. And then weird when she ended on a note which did seem very personal. I mean, was that just a set-up too? Not that I intellectually thought it was, but I was no longer with her at that point...

I dunno, to each their own, and I have no problem with her specifically but I don't see what to like about this speech.
posted by mdn at 7:42 AM on January 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Uh, Jessica Chastain is about to turn 36.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:47 AM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I find it really odd the number of queer people in this thread saying "I don't want to dictate how she came out, but the way she came out sucked."

Maybe I'm feeling raw because I came out as bi to my family this Christmas--when I burst into tears in response to a poorly-timed joke about bisexuality. I'd been struggling with the necessity of it for years--first, with even owning the label when I'm married to a man. Then with the idea of declaring myself out when many of my queer friends are casually biphobic. For about four years now, those who I've known I'm safe with have known; otherwise, not so much and I believed that to be my choice and my prerogative.

But that choice was taken away from me. I cried because I really didn't feel safe coming out in that situation but knew that I "should." And that "should" is a bitch. I saw Foster's speech as rambling nervous up until the "moment" that she released those nerves with a joke. I don't think it matters that she didn't say the words "I'm gay." The speech was built around acknowledgment and acceptance of that fact. I mean, we all know she's gay now, right? There's a moment in the speech when she regains her composure and also becomes much more honest about her life, and it's around the time she thanks her ex-partner and talks about her kids. I think she must have been relieved to acknowledge the whole thing--just like I did in the fifteen minutes after crying, when I pulled myself together, stopped weeping, and said "You know, I am bisexual."

But before that it was all "ohmygodohmygod."

I would hope more queer people would have empathy for the messiness of it. I think it's always messy, no matter when you do it, no matter how "safe" a group of people (the entire American public!) looks to outsiders.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:51 AM on January 15, 2013 [11 favorites]


Uh, Jessica Chastain is about to turn 36.

Thanks, roomthreeseventeen. I didn't know that that mystery had been revealed.

posted by Capt. Renault at 7:59 AM on January 15, 2013


I was going to write something relating my personal coming out as bisexual and how challenging it can be to...

On preview, what PhoBWanKenobi said.
posted by _paegan_ at 7:59 AM on January 15, 2013


Well, it matters that she didn't say the words "I'm gay" because for all we know, she's not gay. Maybe she's bisexual, maybe she doesn't like labels. But until she asserts a sexual orientation in public, I'm not going to call her gay.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:16 AM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, I'm sure if you ever met her she'd be happy to deconstruct her sexuality for you--as she says she's been doing for people she actually meets for decades.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:20 AM on January 15, 2013


PhoBWanKenobi: "Then with the idea of declaring myself out when many of my queer friends are casually biphobic."

I wish most of the lesbians I had to be around (due to a mutual friend thing) were casually biphobic. The shit I had to put up with because of them...
posted by Samizdata at 8:41 AM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


There was an article years ago in some magazine whose name is no longer available to my memory.

What I DO remember is her complaining about life as a celebrity. One of her kids was young at the time, and her example of the hellish nature of her existence was that they had to go to Disneyland during hours and days it was closed, to avoid the general public.

So having one's kids have to endure Disneyland during off hours, presumably along with the children of other swells, must be hard indeed.

She lost me right there.
posted by Danf at 8:58 AM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


She just wants to be a normal person. She wants her kids to have normal lives.

I have a friend who is a bestselling author. A movie is being made of her book. She's really young, and tries to keep her personal life private. Some kids found her wedding pictures and tumblogged them. That kind of shit sucks, you know? It robs you of the ability to have any personal narrative about your life. Instead, everything has to be framed from the perspective of what other people will say and think about you.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:05 AM on January 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


It's interesting to me how much the nature of being LGTBQ has changed recently. Instead of this announcement being all about Coming Out, people are talking about the nature of celebrity. What it means to be a pseudo-public figure and what it means for your privacy or lack of it. Whether people who have chosen a life that gives them a certain amount of media exposure must endure it over all things, or if they get to retain a portion (just one inch) that belongs to themselves.

I also think it's worth asking whether Foster ever had the opportunity to choose NOT to be in the public eye. She started acting well before the age of majority, which is when we typically decide that people have agency and control over their own decisions. What is it about artists that makes the public believe that we own them? Is it the intensely personal nature of their work that makes us believe we should have carte blanche over everything they are? That there should be nothing held back from us?
posted by stoneweaver at 9:28 AM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Foster maintains she came out years ago:
"But now I’m told, apparently, that every celebrity is expected to honor the details of their private life with a press conference, a fragrance and a prime-time reality show."
That's not her style. It's not going to happen. Instead Foster honoured the details of her family: "Thank you, Cyd. I am so proud of our modern family. Our amazing sons, Charlie and Kit ... "

That seems sufficiently explicit to me to be viewed as standing up to be counted.

> She just wants to be a normal person.

Apart from the ruins of celebrity since childhood, I'm seeing normal. (Mind you, I sucked a little judgemental air when she left Cyd for whatshername.)
posted by de at 9:34 AM on January 15, 2013


The thing I object to is not that she wants a private life, but that she believes that sexual orientation is a private, intimate detail.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:04 AM on January 15, 2013


Okay, I'm going to say this once, and be done with it. Foster's sexual orientation and her level of outness are her business, not mine. My issue here is not how Foster has lived her life. I may personally think it's selfish and entitled, but it's her life, not mine, and she can live it as she thinks best.

However, this thread is about her speech on Sunday night. Foster chose to introduce the issues of her sexual orientation and her level of outness into this speech. There was no organic reason that these issues had to be discussed.

Once she broached the topics by her own choice, then I think how she handled talking about them is fair game for criticism. My criticism is that she used the bully pulpit of the Golden Globes to launch an attack -- a humorous attack, but an attack nonetheless -- on her critics and, indirectly, on other celebrities who have chosen to sacrifice some measure of their privacy for what is in fact a greater good.

She stood up there in five figures' worth of designer dress and a thousand-dollar hair and makeup job and a faceful of extremely expensive and subtle cosmetic surgery, on international television and in front of a room of her industry, and said, "I want my privacy. I know you're all fascinated by the subject of my sexual orientation, and so I am now going to tease you by pretending to reveal it, but, hey, fuck you all, I'm a very private person, remember?"

That's perverse. Before Sunday night, Foster's position I could regard as neutral. Now I see her as actively, smugly hostile to gay people who choose, or are forced, to make choices different from the ones she has made. Mostly I think it's sad that a woman could reach the age of 50 without progressing beyond the emotional maturity of a 12-year-old.
posted by La Cieca at 10:06 AM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


The thing I object to is not that she wants a private life, but that she believes that sexual orientation is a private, intimate detail.

Is there anything that's more private and intimate than who you have sex with? I guess we can draw the line on this side of "show us video of your appendectomy," but that's about it. If you don't feel that she has the right to decline to talk about her sexual orientation just because she makes movies (and that's all she's done -- she's not suing people for reporting her sexual orientation, or even actively denying it), then do you feel that anyone has that right ever?

Before you answer that question, let me ask you this one: How many times have you masturbated this week?
posted by Etrigan at 10:10 AM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


How many times have you masturbated this week?

Assuming Sunday as a start date, four.
posted by snottydick at 10:15 AM on January 15, 2013


Is there anything that's more private and intimate than who you have sex with?

seriously? Orientation is not a question of what sexual positions someone enjoys. It's a question of who they are partnered with. It's like asking whether you are married. It's not the most private and intimate detail. In every other context it's a very ordinary detail, and it's only made private and intimate because it's seen as embarrassing.
posted by mdn at 10:16 AM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


...Not that she had any obligation to talk about whether she was married - but she was the one who brought it up, so it seemed strange.
posted by mdn at 10:17 AM on January 15, 2013


Is there anything that's more private and intimate than who you have sex with?

You are confusing sexual history with sexual orientation. Being out doesn't mean you spill the names of everyone you've been to bed with. More than 90% of the world walks around every day with their straight orientation either explicitly stated or tacitly assumed, and you don't see them wailing, "Oh, my privacy! My privacy!"
posted by La Cieca at 10:18 AM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Orientation is not a question of what sexual positions someone enjoys. It's a question of who they are partnered with.

Then why are people upset that Foster -- who has been publicly partnered with a woman for the last twenty years -- hasn't said the magical words "I am a lesbian"?

It's like asking whether you are married. It's not the most private and intimate detail. In every other context it's a very ordinary detail, and it's only made private and intimate because it's seen as embarrassing.

There's a difference between "It's only private and intimate because of this" and "It's not private and intimate."

Maybe I've been watching the wrong civil-rights struggle over the last thirty years, but to me, the central argument of the LGBT movement has been "It doesn't matter." A huge part of that argument is that if you don't have to ask people about this thing, then you shouldn't. That, to me, is pretty private and intimate. If you want to tell people about your sexual orientation, then fine. I don't care. But saying that Jodie Foster has any sort of duty to, or that she cannot believe that it is her business, is appalling to me.
posted by Etrigan at 10:22 AM on January 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


> Foster chose to introduce the issues of her sexual orientation and her level of outness into this speech.

She (seemingly) did. What pressure was in the background? It would have been more consistent with her beliefs (pressure or not) had she gone ahead and acknowledged her modern family and friends without taunting those keen for her to make pronouncements.

>Mostly I think it's sad that a woman could reach the age of 50 without progressing beyond the emotional maturity of a 12-year-old.

I find pressuring a 50 year old woman who has conspicuously lived the part into standing up in public and reciting "Hi, My name's Jodie, and I. am. lesbian." a tad youthful. I admire her more for not buying into the demands of a prescriptive coming-out.

Foster is out. She did it wrongly?
posted by de at 10:28 AM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


More than 90% of the world walks around every day with their straight orientation either explicitly stated or tacitly assumed, and you don't see them wailing, "Oh, my privacy! My privacy!"

Wait, so straight privilege makes it mandatory for non-straights to broadcast their orientation? That's... an interesting idea.
posted by Etrigan at 10:30 AM on January 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


to me, the central argument of the LGBT movement has been "It doesn't matter."

So I take it you dozed off during that whole AIDS thing?
posted by La Cieca at 10:33 AM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


to me, the central argument of the LGBT movement has been "It doesn't matter."

So I take it you dozed off during that whole AIDS thing?


What do you think "that whole AIDS thing" was? Assholes were saying that it was "just" a gay disease, and the response was it doesn't matter that people the assholes found icky were dying.
posted by Etrigan at 10:37 AM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


You lost me Etrigan, but I don't understand why the whole AIDS thing was flung in here. The whole AIDS thing is history, so if it's relevant to Jodie Foster's (lack of) stance today, it's always going to be relevant.

There goes any hope of sexual orientation ever not mattering.
posted by de at 10:46 AM on January 15, 2013


I was very moved by the speech. Particularly (paraphrasing) how she conveyed her desire for privacy, yet did not want to be lonely. That's one of many contradictions I live with too. Mileage always seems to vary with coming out stories. I appreciated Dorothy Snarker's take on the whole thing.
posted by dorkydancer at 11:10 AM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't understand why the whole AIDS thing was flung in here.

Because AIDS proved once and for all that sexual orientation does matter. The reason the disease was ignored and even laughed at for so long was that it was primarily associated with people of a specific sexual orientation that society as a whole found strange and alien. Saying "it doesn't matter" is very often a euphemism for "I don't want to talk about it because it disgusts and frightens me." Because people were frightened and disgusted by gay sexuality, they dragged their feet on addressing a "gay" disease.

That fear and disgust is product of ignorance, of a sense that gay people are Other, some tiny marginalized minority totally alien to the mainstream of society. They don't really exist, so why does it matter whether they are denied civil rights or, for that matter, dying of some disgusting disease they probably brought on themselves anyway?

The remedy for invisibility is visibility, which means that sexual orientation is not strictly a private, personal matter of who you slept with last week. It's a matter of making ourselves apparent in society so that we cannot be dismissed as outsiders unworthy of the benefits and protections society offers to its members.

Sexual orientation is a human characteristic, and the "it doesn't matter" part should apply to whether that orientation is opposite-sex or same-sex. Right now, it very definitely does matter, because opposite-sex orientation is so not a big deal that nobody even thinks to mention it, and same-sex orientation is a huge issue of personal privacy.

The solution to this imbalance is not to reinforce the idea that one type of sexual orientation is so shameful or so dangerous that it requires a whole different set of standards in discussing it, but rather to move toward a society in which, as it is now and always has been for straight people, gay people's orientation is so "not a big deal" that it can be talked about matter-of-factly.
posted by La Cieca at 11:17 AM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I thought the "coming out" part of the speech was a classic example of praeteritio. It emphasized the disclosure. Although I agree it didn't specify whether she's gay, or bi. I thought it was an interesting way to deal with the seeming expectations of the public that you make this kind of disclosure when a straight person-- or at least a person who everyone assumes is straight-- is never expected to. I don't like the way that expectation is unequal and I think it's neat that she handled it in a meta way. She could have said, "All right, here's the coming-out you've all been waiting for. I'm a lesbian. Are you happy now?" That would have been weird; ignoring it would have been weird; playing it (so to speak) straight with a heartfelt coming-out speech might have seemed awkward in other ways.

Yes, she could have gone through this even without acknowledgement too but it wouldn't surprise me if the felt it really was time to address it on some level.
posted by BibiRose at 11:19 AM on January 15, 2013


I think it's neat that she handled it in a meta way.

Yes, you have to hand it to those homosexuals. So arch and camp! It's their way of compensating, I suppose, for being forced to live in a shadowy demimonde instead of out in the open like the rest of us normal people.
posted by La Cieca at 11:21 AM on January 15, 2013


La Cieca, speaking as an out and active member of Team Queer, it really seems like you are looking for reasons to be offended, both by JF and by other posters.
posted by ottereroticist at 11:26 AM on January 15, 2013 [13 favorites]


The reason the disease was ignored and even laughed at for so long was that it was primarily associated with people of a specific sexual orientation that society as a whole found strange and alien. Saying "it doesn't matter" is very often a euphemism for "I don't want to talk about it because it disgusts and frightens me." Because people were frightened and disgusted by gay sexuality, they dragged their feet on addressing a "gay" disease.

Well, yes. That was my point: that to the political and medical establishments of the time, the status of the majority of the initial victims -- gay men and intravenous drug users -- did matter. That this public health issue could be safely ignored, while a disease that killed just as many people who weren't gay and didn't shoot up would have been massively responded to.

What AIDS activists were saying was that it didn't matter whether AIDS was "only" killing those people. They weren't demanding that research be increased because it was killing gay men in greater numbers. Like how anti-discrimination laws and actions aren't about giving "special treatment" to protected classes, despite what morons are always claiming about them.

The solution to this imbalance is not to reinforce the idea that one type of sexual orientation is so shameful or so dangerous that it requires a whole different set of standards in discussing it, but rather to move toward a society in which, as it is now and always has been for straight people, gay people's orientation is so "not a big deal" that it can be talked about matter-of-factly.

The biggest word in that sentence is "can." Jodie Foster chooses not to. That is the very essence of whether something is "not a big deal" and can be talked about matter-of-factly.
posted by Etrigan at 11:30 AM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Etrigan: “Then why are people upset that Foster -- who has been publicly partnered with a woman for the last twenty years -- hasn't said the magical words ‘I am a lesbian’?”

Jodie Foster has every right to be whomever she chooses to be, and to say whatever she wants to say. I didn't watch the Golden Globes, and I'm not planning on doing so in the future, so I guess this doesn't concern me too much.

However, I think you're separating issues that aren't really separate. As far as I can tell, people aren't angry at Jodie Foster for not coming out sooner; they're angry at Jodie Foster for flatly insulting those who've taken the brave step of coming out publicly long before she had the guts to.

I mean, Anderson Cooper made the point when he came out that he felt like it was worthwhile, even though in many respects this is late in the game and people that came before were braver for doing so. I agreed with him, although that's a bit self-effacing and discounts the fact that it did take some guts for him to come forward that way, if only because it abrogated his privacy to some degree.

Jodie Foster did the exact opposite. She came out, and in doing so insulted everyone else who's been bold enough to come out thus far, lumping them in with reality TV stars and narcissistic fame-seekers. It's that insult that bothers me, at least. I mean, I don't care that she waited, that she wanted to guard her privacy, but given that she did she has no right to insult those who made the step of coming forward and coming out.

And, yeah – I'll say this, too: Jodie Foster makes it sound in the speech as though it's almost execrable to be publicly out, as though one ought to be out to people one has "actually met," as though, if one reveals one's orientation beyond that circle, one is a fame-seeking narcissist. That's not really fair. It grates on those of us who've lived for a long time with the reality of a world where coming out was an act of bravery and of hope for social change.

Maybe more to the point, Jodie Foster seems to be completely and utterly wrong. Is there genuinely a fad surrounding coming out of the closet? Really? Jodie Foster says that there are celebrities who do it for the bump of fame. That accusation might have held more weight if she'd named some names; but I guess vague imprecations are more suited for awards ceremonies. Out here in the real world, coming out sure doesn't seem like the narcissistic, showy thing Jodie Foster describes.
posted by koeselitz at 11:37 AM on January 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


I am not offended. I disagree with a number of commenters here about the nature of "privacy" in the context of sexual orientation as opposed to sexual behavior. I disagree that sexual orientation and sexual behavior are identical, and part of that disagreement is that I think whereas sexual behavior should be treated as strictly private for both gay and straight people, sexual orientation is already de facto not a private matter at all: straight people's orientation is talked about freely and openly all the time.

The "privacy" argument I think is an excuse for people who think that being open and honest about their sexual orientation is somehow dangerous, e.g., "if everyone knows I'm a dyke, I'm not going to get cast in movies any more." The fact that Foster choose to inch out of the closet in the same speech in which she announced her semi-retirement from mainstream Hollywood reinforces that idea quite clearly: it's only okay to be gay so long as you don't want to be famous and important and successful too.
posted by La Cieca at 11:49 AM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


As far as I can tell, people aren't angry at Jodie Foster for not coming out sooner; they're angry at Jodie Foster for flatly insulting those who've taken the brave step of coming out publicly long before she had the guts to.

We'll have to agree to disagree, then. I think that what a lot of those brave people were fighting for was a world that just doesn't care about the sexual orientation of Movie Star or Political Candidate or Next-Door Neighbor. Are we there yet? Apparently not. But I don't think we're any farther away from it than we were at this time yesterday.
posted by Etrigan at 11:53 AM on January 15, 2013


The fact that Foster's speech was confusing and rambling is not helped by everyone reading it in the most unflattering and uncharitable ways possible. (Personally, I think this is a by-product of having Mel Gibson at your table, but YMMV.)

E.J. Graff writes here on the issue here. She makes all the same points I made earlier in the thread (though much, much better -- particularly on the Hinckley issue) but also ties it to her own personal coming out and place in the world in a great way.

For me, as it happens, being publicly out as a lesbian has been easy, at least since I admitted it to myself when I was 20. It’s harder for me to write open about being Jewish—probably because that’s what made me feel most like an outsider in Beavercreek, Ohio, where I grew up. Still other aspects of my life I haven’t been willing to write about publicly, at all. When I see other people being open about those things, helping reduce the stigma, I think about adding my own comment—but I cannot bring myself to do it. Those sides of me are locked down in privacy. I do the part that's easiest for me: being out as gay. Other people will have to blaze the other trails.

Anyone who chose to set himself up as a judge could castigate me for not being open about those other things, or for not commenting on what are arguably more important issues: poverty, the expansion of the national security state, torture. But I have only so much to give in this life, and the nexus of gender and sexuality happens to be where I can contribute. What a tedious world it would be if we all focused on the same couple of things! God knows I could never make a movie. Each one of us is different. We each give what we can, and rely on others to give what and where they can. Together we make a world.

posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:53 AM on January 15, 2013


La Cieca: “The fact that Foster choose to inch out of the closet in the same speech in which she announced her semi-retirement from mainstream Hollywood reinforces that idea quite clearly: it's only okay to be gay so long as you don't want to be famous and important and successful too.”

I agree. I would even say it more strongly than that. Jodie Foster came right out and said that coming out publicly is shameful. She associated people who come out with designer fragrances and "Honey Boo Boo Child," denigrating the fact that she was "forced" to come out too.
posted by koeselitz at 11:55 AM on January 15, 2013


I think the thing that bothers me about this speech, and the way Foster has previously spoken in interviews, is that it's as if she has no idea that other people besides herself grapple with these issues. As if people coming out very publicly didn't agonize over how, or when, or to what degree. As if other famous people have not been hounded, or asked invasive questions. As if other people have not been stalked or terrorized by strangers. But then I considered the fact that she grew up as the breadwinner in her family. Her father left before she was born, and she was described by Andy Warhol as essentially being married to her own mother- the role she played in her fairly large family was that of the father. She has described her mother as her only friend during her childhood. So yeah, I can see why she has felt very lonely, and I understand looking at her career as less of a choice, and perhaps more of a burden. I can imagine that growing up without peers would make you feel alone and unconnected to a larger community of any sort. If you want close, loving relationships but find instead that people want to know you for your celebrity or need you for your money, it's really going to distort making connections that aren't framed by those overwhelming aspects of your life. I think it's possible that she has no idea that people wanted to know about her life and orientation for benign reasons and the solidarity that comes from that- in fact, I imagine that concept is entirely foreign to her. So as I've been thinking about this for the last two days, I think I've come from believing that she is really self centered, to believing she hasn't really been given the opportunity to be part of normal, no-strings-attached community. Now I just feel a bit sad for her.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:57 AM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


RE: the idea that Foster was linking coming out with fragrances and reality TV, again, I think that's a HUGELY unsympathetic read to what Foster said. From the piece I just linked:

Clearly becoming a gay symbol—and make no mistake, that's what would have happened—would have been an overwhelming emotional hardship for Jodie Foster, who has been a public figure since she was three-years-old. That’s before the advent of coherent memory. Think about that: She has never known the zone of anonymity that most of us take for granted. No wonder she’s rejecting the reality-TV life, insisting that she could never live with 24/7 cameras the way someone like Honey Boo Boo does.


That's all she was saying. Right there on the page. We can take offense if we want. But in doing so, we invite the exact same criticism that Foster was arguing against.

And further, though it would be great to think of ourselves as one great big shining LGBT community, my coming out story has little or nothing to do with a 50 year old man or a 26 year old man. The world has changed too much. And for women it is a completely other can of worms. But even without that, it is impossible to place Jodie Foster and her experience in any frame of reference that we can understand. Her speech may have seemed dismissive of other's experiences, but that's where we majorly differ.

(This is what pissed me off the most about Andy Sullivan's bullshit comments that have been referenced earlier, but that's a whole other kettle of fish.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:01 PM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think that what a lot of those brave people were fighting for was a world that just doesn't care about the sexual orientation of Movie Star or Political Candidate or Next-Door Neighbor.

There is a vast difference between "just doesn't care" and "just doesn't talk about."
posted by La Cieca at 12:05 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


the idea that Foster was linking coming out with fragrances and reality TV, again, I think that's a HUGELY unsympathetic read to what Foster said.

Foster has been a professional in the communications business for almost all of her life. She wrote the speech herself and she delivered it herself. If she had written and directed a film that left the audience utterly bewildered as to what point she was trying to get across or even whether the central plot point was made or not, then that film would be accounted a massive failure.

Her gabble Sunday night was the Prometheus of acceptance speeches, and just as Ridley Scott's fanboys have fallen all over themselves inventing arcane theories in order to make sense of that incoherent piece of science fiction claptrap, so Foster's apologists are now devising arcane scenarios in which Foster was delivering an uplifting message of humility, pride and human loving kindness.

I, on the other hand, think she just stupidly ran right into the path of a falling alien rocket ship.
posted by La Cieca at 12:22 PM on January 15, 2013


MCMikeNamara: “That's all she was saying. Right there on the page.”

Maybe it'd be better to go over what she actually said; this is the pertinent piece of the speech, I think:

“So while I’m here being all confessional, I guess I have a sudden urge to say something that I’ve never really been able to air in public. So, a declaration that I’m a little nervous about but maybe not quite as nervous as my publicist right now, huh Jennifer? But I’m just going to put it out there, right? Loud and proud, right? So I’m going to need your support on this. I am single. Yes I am, I am single. No, I’m kidding — but I mean I’m not really kidding, but I’m kind of kidding. I mean, thank you for the enthusiasm. Can I get a wolf whistle or something? Jesus...

“Seriously, 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 back in the Stone Age, in those very quaint days when a fragile young girl would open up to trusted friends and family and co-workers and then gradually, proudly to everyone who knew her, to everyone she actually met. But now I’m told, apparently, that every celebrity is expected to honor the details of their private life with a press conference, a fragrance and a prime-time reality show. You know, you guys might be surprised, but I am not Honey Boo Boo Child. No, I’m sorry, that’s just not me. It never was and it never will be. Please don’t cry because my reality show would be so boring. I would have to make out with Marion Cotillard or I’d have to spank Daniel Craig’s bottom just to stay on the air. It’s not bad work if you can get it, though.”


There are a couple of different ways to read that, I can see.

MCMikeNamara: “Her speech may have seemed dismissive of other's experiences, but that's where we majorly differ.”

Indeed we do. I admit that it's very hard for me to listen (or to read) her speech without hearing a yearning for simpler, more private times, when coming out didn't demand anything public – and a condemnation by association of the ways the world has changed, the ways the world has (in her mind) forced people to be open about their sexuality.

To try to be more fair to her, I think maybe she just really has no idea how the world works. Honestly, she's probably right about life in the upper reaches of Hollywood. Rock Hudson dealt with cruel rumors and attempts at blackmail, but he was successful at keeping his sexuality out of the press, probably because those times were slightly less eager to print salacious rumors. Maybe in those times, Jodie Foster could have come out to her friends and family and told no one else, and it never would have become a subject of speculation at all, never would have been printed in magazines or asked about in interviews. "In those very quaint days" at least there was this modicum of respect for privacy.

What I think Jodie Foster doesn't have any clue about is the reason behind that "respect for privacy" – because in those days, moral attitudes about sexuality were such that rumors about sexuality could be extraordinarily damaging. They could ruin careers even if the public never found out; and if the public did find out, well. And outside Hollywood, people lost their families, their careers, their lives for such secrets. If you're insulated from all that, yes, the modicum of privacy enjoyed could be a luxury. But there was so much more going on – so much more.

Hence, when some of us hear yearning speeches about "those very quaint days" when sexuality was kept private, we tend to get a little het up. Ultimately, I guess I don't blame Jodie Foster, and again I'll say that she can and should be whomever she chooses to be, and that's her business. I just think, perhaps ironically, that her lifelong lack of privacy has given her something of a warped idea about the way that privacy and sexuality intersect in the real world. She would trade a lot for her privacy; but out here, a lot of people have been trading their privacy for something greater.
posted by koeselitz at 12:25 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


(I mean, how else can you read that line about how she'd come out ages before to people she'd "actually met"? It is a pointed line, and the point is pretty clear: there's something really improper about a world where people are willing to come out of the closet publicly to people they haven't met. That's the most charitable reading I can think of; at the very least she's saying that coming out publicly is not something that should have to happen. Am I wrong there?)
posted by koeselitz at 12:31 PM on January 15, 2013


Having read through this thread again, I was beginning to think that my initial takeaway from this speech was off so I re-read though the transcript. Like I said up thread mileage varies and so forth but I didn't think she was insulting anyone's method or decision on coming out.

The "loud and proud, I'm single" bit reminded me of kd lang's joke back in the day about being a "L-L-L-Lawrence Welk fan."

This part:
"But now apparently, I'm told that every celebrity is expected to honor the details of their private life with a press conference, a fragrance, and a prime time reality show. You guys might be surprised, but I am not Honey Boo Boo Child. No, I'm sorry, that's just not me, it never was, and it never will be."
Sounded to me more like a critique about disposable celebrities like Honey Boo Boo, the Kardashians, etc. and the unrelenting media coverage of them, not to mention the expectation by some people that if you are an artist or creative in a public space you somehow lose your right to privacy.

On Preview: I guess this view makes me a Jodie Foster apologist?
Loud and proud, indeed.
posted by dorkydancer at 12:34 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Seriously, 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 back in the Stone Age, in those very quaint days when a fragile young girl would open up to trusted friends and family and co-workers and then gradually, proudly to everyone who knew her, to everyone she actually met. But now I’m told, apparently, that every celebrity is expected to honor the details of their private life with a press conference, a fragrance and a prime-time reality show.

It is a pointed line, and the point is pretty clear: there's something really improper about a world where people are willing to come out of the closet publicly to people they haven't met.


I read it as her saying that there's something improper about a world where people are expected to come out of the closet publicly to people they haven't met. She did use that word, after all.
posted by Etrigan at 12:35 PM on January 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


Sounded to me more like a critique about disposable celebrities like Honey Boo Boo, the Kardashians, etc.

Wow, edgy stuff! What does she do for an encore, her controversial "airline peanuts" material?
posted by La Cieca at 12:38 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I read it as her saying that there's something improper about a world where people are expected to come out of the closet publicly to people they haven't met.

Unless they're straight, of course, in which case it's utterly proper and in fact so commonplace that nobody gives it a second thought.
posted by La Cieca at 12:41 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Etrigan: “I read it as her saying that there's something improper about a world where people are expected to come out of the closet publicly to people they haven't met. She did use that word, after all.”

I see that; and it makes sense. She doesn't object to other people coming out, she objects to the expectation that she come out. But that only brings this back to: in what world, exactly, are people expected to come out?
posted by koeselitz at 12:44 PM on January 15, 2013


I read it as her saying that there's something improper about a world where people are expected to come out of the closet publicly to people they haven't met.

Unless they're straight, of course, in which case it's utterly proper and in fact so commonplace that nobody gives it a second thought.


There you go again with "Straight privilege means gays have to be out of the closet." Do you see how incredibly regressive that sounds?

And she's not saying that straight celebrities should be crazy-public about their heterosexuality, either. Take a look at that piece she wrote about Kristen Stewart, where she's explicitly arguing that people need to keep their noses out of everyone's business.

Wow, edgy stuff! What does she do for an encore, her controversial "airline peanuts" material?

Oh, never mind. You've clearly crossed over the line between "I disagree with Jodie Foster's decision not to be more public about her sexual orientation" and "I have decided to hate everything about Jodie Foster."
posted by Etrigan at 12:46 PM on January 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


But that only brings this back to: in what world, exactly, are people expected to come out?

It's called heterosexuality, and what a bizarre place it is for those of us who grew up on planet Earth.
posted by La Cieca at 12:46 PM on January 15, 2013


Take a look at that piece she wrote about Kristen Stewart

The one in which she said nobody should be allowed to speculate about Stewart's sexual orientation? I missed that one.
posted by La Cieca at 12:50 PM on January 15, 2013


She doesn't object to other people coming out, she objects to the expectation that she come out. But that only brings this back to: in what world, exactly, are people expected to come out?

The one she lives in. The one we live in, for that matter -- the one where I can think of two AskMeFi questions just from the past few weeks where people were asking "How do I tell my friends and family I'm not gay?"

Do you think that no tabloid has ever run a story on whether Jodie Foster was a lesbian? That she's never been asked about who she was going out with? That's the world we're in, where if you're in a movie, the press and the public expect to be able to ask about your sex life, because some yahoos have made it the greater part of their fame.
posted by Etrigan at 12:51 PM on January 15, 2013


they're angry at Jodie Foster for flatly insulting those who've taken the brave step of coming out publicly long before she had the guts to.

I can imagine feeling more resentment than gratitude if people were always pointing to them and saying, "See! You should stop being a coward and do that too!" Especially if you feel deeply that it's not the sort of thing anyone should have to do and that you've already had your privacy violated in unpleasant ways.
posted by straight at 12:55 PM on January 15, 2013


And yeah. She's in showbiz. Showbiz has as its foundation getting the public interested in you and your product. If you want a life in showbiz, you're going to have to give up some privacy. If you don't like that, you can always quit being a movie star, and retire to a ranch in Idaho or something, where no-one will care about you anymore. No-one is making her stay a movie star.

This isn't true. Many people have managed to have great careers without being fame whores-- in fact Daniel Day-Lewis is one of them. He and his family live a very quiet life and then he goes off occasionally to make stunningly well acted movies. Meryl Streep also comes to mind. If you are good enough you don't have to work to get the public interested in you and your product. And I would add Jodie Foster to that small group of non-fame whores.

Here is what I require of movie actors: Come to work on time and prepared. Do the best acting job you are capable of. Publicize the movie. Don't drive drunk. Don't kill yourself with drugs. Show up at awards ceremonies clean, sober, and well dressed.

Who they fuck and how they fuck is of no interest to me unless it is with minors.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 12:57 PM on January 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


the one where I can think of two AskMeFi questions just from the past few weeks where people were asking "How do I tell my friends and family I'm not gay?

Yeah, especially when you consider how many homeless youths are living on the street because they're been thrown out by their parents when they come out as straight. It's an enormous problem that is so often overlooked thanks to our society's wrongheaded emphasis on coming out as a gay phenomenon.

It's almost as big a problem as the ban on heterosexual marriage written into the Defense of Marriage Act.
posted by La Cieca at 1:09 PM on January 15, 2013


snottydick: "How many times have you masturbated this week?

Assuming Sunday as a start date, four.
"

Sheesh. Only? They have a pill for that, you know.
posted by Samizdata at 1:18 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Halloween Jack: whatever is keeping her from those two little words, she's punishing herself by hanging on to it.
(Sarcasm:) Because she should feel compelled to recite two words, and not doing so is clearly "punishing" to this Harvard-graduate, extremely intelligent, multimillionaire, beautiful, healthy, Oscar-winning actress/director with what appears to be a happy personal life.

(Not sarcasm:) What arrogance.
roomthreeseventeen: Do celebrities have some sort of responsibility to be trailblazers?

I don't think so. But it's classless to ignore those who did blaze the trails so that in 2013, you can ride them.
Again, arrogant. She's never made a single dollar by pretending to be straight (outside of the context of roles), AFAICT, and certainly none in 2013. The award is for a lifetime of work, in an industry that has long been a safe haven for homosexuals. And - "ignore" who, exactly?
koeselitz: Jodie Foster makes it sound in the speech as though ...
I hate this phrasing. You heard it that way, in your interpretation. If she's guilty of anything there, it's leaving the tone open to koeselitz making that assumption...
posted by IAmBroom at 1:28 PM on January 15, 2013


Yeah, especially when you consider how many homeless youths are living on the street because they're been thrown out by their parents when they come out as straight

Too often teenage girls get thrown out when they become pregnant. Some parents just do not like evidence of their kids having a sexual life whether it is straight or gay.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 1:29 PM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Just let me clarify my position here -

How many fucks I give that Ms. Foster is gay?

The answer lies somewhere inbetween zero and zero.

Unfortunately, that answer also encapsulates neatly my comprehension of her speech. I pretty much chalked it up to a Sally Field-esque moment, truthfully.

Okay, the new Borderlands 2 DLC is finally almost downloaded on my slow-ass connection, so methinks it is time for some shoot and loot.

Or not. My connection really sucks...
posted by Samizdata at 1:31 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Too often teenage girls get thrown out when they become pregnant.

Okay, I give up. So long as "orientation" is defined as "fucking," there is no possibility of conversation here. It's like trying to have a discussion about rhyme schemes in musical comedy when people keep saying, "But in NASCAR they have to wear crash helmets."
posted by La Cieca at 1:46 PM on January 15, 2013


The "privacy" argument I think is an excuse for people who think that being open and honest about their sexual orientation is somehow dangerous, e.g., "if everyone knows I'm a dyke, I'm not going to get cast in movies any more."

It's not that big an assumption, though, is it? Are there any gay leading men in Hollywood, or prominent lesbian actresses who are cast in mainstream romantic leads due to their talents rather than their straight sexuality? I was watching Ellen recently - which, sure, is fifteen years old now - but coming out fucked up her career for a while.

I'm not up to date on actresses, but in the UK we have Jessie J, who is a successful, mainstream, out bisexual pop star who has spoken about her girlfriend to the outrage of pretty much nobody and without her sexuality being made an issue more than that of a straight woman, and it's ace that young girls who might find themselves gay or bi have a prominent example out there who isn't a reality star pretending to be lesbian for column inches but a regular person who happens to be bi. I can't think of similar stars in Hollywood, statistically there must be an A-lister or two who isn't straight, so I can't help but feeling it isn't primness keeping people in the closet.
posted by mippy at 1:48 PM on January 15, 2013


La Cieca, can you elaborate on your assertion that (in Etrigan's phrasing) straight privilege means that non-straight people must broadcast their orientation? Is that a fair phrasing of your feelings on the matter, or is it more complicated than that?

I ask because that's the part that I can't quite wrap my brain around. Etrigan has tried to engage you on that topic twice and you seem to be sidestepping it.
posted by savetheclocktower at 2:07 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


La Cieca, can you elaborate on your assertion that (in Etrigan's phrasing) straight privilege means that non-straight people must broadcast their orientation?

He said it; I didn't. I said that gay people in our society have a unique burden in that they all have to deal with the decision to come out whereas straight people don't: they are essentially born "out."

Dealing with the decision does not mean everyone is required to come out. But everyone is required by circumstances to "deal with the decision," that is, either to formulate a coming-out strategy or else to take whatever steps are necessary to stay furtively closeted.

I believe there are huge benefits in being open about so fundamental an aspect of one's nature as one's sexual orientation. Hiding and prevaricating are not psychologically healthy activities. I admit, though, that there are certain circumstances in which hiding and prevaricating are lesser evils than, say, being turned out onto the street or beaten.

In general, though, I think fear is a poor way of informing decisions, and it seems to me that a lot of of the cant about "privacy" is another way of saying, "I'm afraid of the consequences of this action, so I'm going to avoid it."

Besides the personal psychological benefit, I think there is also a political/social benefit to coming out; that is, the value of being a good example to others. Again, I am not saying that this is a requirement, but I am saying that it is positive and therefore deserves support. In the long run, every person who comes out makes it easier for another person to come out and to enjoy an open, honest life.

Foster I think has been unusually well-placed to share the "social" benefits of being fully out, without any of the hedging about privacy. That is, she doesn't have a crushing burden of debt or so lavish a lifestyle that she feels constrained to work frantically; she has some freedom in choosing her projects. She has also for at least the past 10 years defined herself as a character actress rather than a romantic leading lady, which means that the worries about audience believability are not so pressing. She lives quietly and is (or was) in a stable relationship, so the actual details of her personal life (as opposed to the fact of her sexual orientation) are not particularly difficult to keep private. (That is, her life is not all that interesting to the tabloid reader.) There have been constant rumors about her orientation for many years, which means that she is the position of acknowledging something a lot of people already believe to be true rather than shocking the world with a blockbuster.

Again, none of this says she has to come out. What I do think it says is that coming out, say 10 years ago or even two years ago would not have been such a big whonking deal, and it would have had the effect of helping some other gay people who don't happen to be living the life of privilege Foster enjoys.

So it's sort of disappointing, like seeing a billionaire hoard his money instead of being charitable. Nobody says the billionaire must endow hospitals, but when he doesn't, you can't help wondering if he just isn't a very nice person. (This situation would be exacerbated, of course, if the billionaire took the opportunity of a testimonial dinner in his honor to try to justify his miserliness on the basis of "privacy" and to make jokes about how all those other billionaires who fund foundations are tacky publicity whores like Honey Boo Boo.)

I don't think we have heard the last of this coming out saga: I predict a serious "damage control" interview with a sympathetic journalist in the next six months or so.
posted by La Cieca at 2:49 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think in Foster's specific situation, she feels resentment that the public have made demands of how she should specifically come out because she's the kind of person to be stubborn about such things (you're going to tell me how to live my life?) but also because, at a young age, two people obsessively stalked her and either wanted to kill her or the President in order to impress her. Not only would it have spooked her, but I imagine it also would have had the response of - I really don't owe any of you anything.

As for why she didn't just pack it all in if she was unhappy with the attention - she was the breadwinner for her family, she had a lot of responsibility placed on her from a young age, and most of that attention came about at a young age. She pulled back significantly when she had her kids, and, as per her speech, she will probably pull back even more now.

But I also felt that she's very lonely, as comes with age and with being single, and, as it's been said, this was a little bit of a Sally Field moment. She's not perfect, she's a little bit embarrassing, some of her friends suck, she probably had a little too much to drink - omg, it's almost as if she's human.
posted by heyjude at 2:57 PM on January 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


So, basically, La Cieca, what I'm hearing you say is that we're entitled to know the details of any celebrity's sexual orientation, regardless of how they might feel about their personal privacy. Does that about sum it up?
posted by palomar at 2:58 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


She stood by and up for Mel when he did his dumb thing and all sneered at him.
posted by Postroad at 3:00 PM on January 15, 2013


So, basically, La Cieca, what I'm hearing you say is that we're entitled to know the details of any celebrity's sexual orientation

Yes, when I wrote "Dealing with the decision does not mean everyone is required to come out.... Again, none of this says she has to come out" what I clearly meant to say was "All celebrities should be required by law to announce their sexual orientation."
posted by La Cieca at 3:08 PM on January 15, 2013


Right, but your continued excoriation of Ms. Foster sort of flies in the face of your own statement there.
posted by palomar at 3:20 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Too often teenage girls get thrown out when they become pregnant.

Okay, I give up. So long as "orientation" is defined as "fucking," there is no possibility of conversation here.


I get the feeling that you think having a conversation means everyone accedes to your point of view.

I also get the idea that you think All celebrities should openly declare their sexual preferences because one of the problems in our society is that parents throw their children out onto the streets for being gay. This is not the fault of celebrities. This is the fault of shitty parents. Some parents cannot deal with their children being gay and some can't deal with their daughters having sex. Bad parents react by throwing their children out onto the streets. Even if Jodi Foster had openly declared that she was a lesbian 20 years ago, some parents would still be shitty parents.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:20 PM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


La Cieca, your billionaire analogy is quite good, and if it represents your feelings on the matter I think I understand you better. I still think that her comments about privacy were less "how shameless you other gay celebrities are to come out" and more "celebrity is seriously fucked up in how it obligates people to make public actions which (in my case) I feel should be private."
posted by savetheclocktower at 3:26 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Right, but your continued excoriation of Ms. Foster sort of flies in the face of your own statement there.

She is a celebrity. She made a speech on television. I thought it was a lousy speech and I don't much care for her attitude. But she is within her rights to do what she has done.

"Within her rights" doesn't mean I have to like it. It just means I have to respect it for the sake of preserving that right.

Nobody can require you to do the right thing. The "right thing" would have been for Foster to come out cleanly and conclusively and coherently a decade ago, or even a year ago. But she would have had to do that of her own free will, and she didn't see her way clear to do it.

I can respect the sanctity of her decision without agreeing the decision was a right one.

And honestly I cannot for the life of me understand the tongue-bath Foster has received from some quarters over ten minutes of blather climaxed by kind of sort of indicating that yes, she is in a relationship with a woman. Big fucking deal!
posted by La Cieca at 3:29 PM on January 15, 2013


Why is publicly coming out the "right" thing to do? Are gay people not entitled to privacy?
posted by palomar at 3:34 PM on January 15, 2013


The "right thing" would have been for Foster to come out cleanly and conclusively and coherently a decade ago, or even a year ago.

What you don't seem to get is that Jodie Foster disagrees with you vehemently about this, as do many people in this thread and elsewhere, as do I.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 3:37 PM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Funny or Die translates Jodie Foster's Golden Globes speech.
posted by ericb at 3:37 PM on January 15, 2013


In related news: “Titanic” Actor Victor Garber Comfirms He’s Gay.

Commentary: On Victor Garber and breaking the story the first time Jodie Foster kind of came out publicly.
posted by ericb at 3:43 PM on January 15, 2013


...if everyone knows I'm a dyke, I'm not going to get cast in movies any more."

As he has often stated in the past, Rupert Everett Once Again Tells Young Gay Actors to Stay in the Closet: VIDEO.
posted by ericb at 3:52 PM on January 15, 2013


Why is publicly coming out the "right" thing to do? Are gay people not entitled to privacy?

You may choose to tip or not to tip a service person. But tipping is the right thing to do.

If a person collapses on a busy street, you may choose to stop and help or not. But the right thing to do is to stop and help.

If there's someone at a party looking shy and frightened, you may choose to walk over and start a conversation, or you may not. But the right thing to do is...

Or, let's say you're in an elevator and you're in hurry and there's someone in the lobby running and yelling, "Hold the door, please!"

I mean, this is beginning to sound like Goofus and Gallant. People have a right to be selfish, but that doesn't mean being selfish is the right thing to do.
posted by La Cieca at 3:56 PM on January 15, 2013


The "right thing" would have been for Foster to come out cleanly and conclusively and coherently a decade ago, or even a year ago.

Okay, so why would it have been better a year ago? What's the difference between someone coming out at 49 after 46 years in show business or 50 after 47 years in show business? Either way, she's going to get heaps of judgment as well as a lot of eye-rolling about how everyone already knew.

We don't know the factors that might have gone into her internal calculus, but she might have feared her livelihood for the sake of the family she was supporting, she might have feared for the privacy of her partners or her children, she might have worried about getting pigeonholed into certain types of roles or having her artistic expression otherwise limited, she might have worried about the reactions of psycho stalker fans or paparazzi and all of those seem pretty valid to me and not particularly "selfish" at all. She has a right to be a person, to look out for her own well-being as best she sees fit, which seemed to me the point of everything she said.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:01 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Every single one of those examples you've given is subjective. Tipping is not the norm in many countries, and is meant to be contingent upon the level of service one receives. If a person collapses on a busy street and I attempt to adminster first aid, I can be sued for damages because I am not a registered and licensed first responder. What you interpret as shy and frightened person at a party might be dude tripping his balls off on shrooms. And hey, what if that elevator scenario is me trying to get out of the building because I'm having a medical emergency and I don't have time to hold the elevator?

What you consider the "right" thing to do is entirely a subjective thing. You find it selfish that Ms. Foster didn't come out on your timetable? I find it boorish that you think you have a right to demand someone come out publicly because it's what YOU want.
posted by palomar at 4:04 PM on January 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


Either way, she's going to get heaps of judgment

The evidence suggests otherwise. Anderson Cooper's official coming out garnered remarkably little snark, for example.
posted by La Cieca at 4:05 PM on January 15, 2013


... to this Harvard-graduate...

Close. She's actually an 'Eli' (i.e., a graduate of Yale).
posted by ericb at 4:08 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Every single one of those examples you've given is subjective.

So deep, man! I mean, for all I know, you're some kind of bizarre android from the Matrix sent here to spout bullshit what-if scenarios with the express purpose of pissing people off, so maybe trying to debate with you in good faith is a horrible blunder on my part that will lead to the destruction of the Earth.

Just to be safe, I'm going to assume that's true and disengage.
posted by La Cieca at 4:09 PM on January 15, 2013


Oh, are you debating in good faith? Because from here it looks very much like you have a tremendous axe to grind. Thanks for aiming some snark at me, though! That's definitely what's needed in a good faith argument.
posted by palomar at 4:10 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Tipping isn't the norm where I live (except in restaurants and maybe salons) so it's hardly bullshit. Try tipping a bartender in London and see how embarrassed everyone gets - and this is a Western English-speaking country where service occupations aren't that different from in the US. That's what was meant by 'subjective'.

Can we see being a film star as 'subjective' when we're talking about what the right thing to do is? I dunno who Anderson Cooper is, but if you're in an industry where being gay could be seen to have an adverse effect on your career, then you don't know what is the right thing. Justin Fashanu was the only openly gay footballer, and he committed suicide in the early 90s because people weren't ready to deal with a footballer being gay. Gareth Thomas, the rugby player, came out a few years ago, and despite the equally macho image of the sport, there were far more bouquets than brickbats - but there still isn't one openly gay football player in any of the top four divisions. The waters for mainstream Hollywood, for the actresses who will be cast as mothers and romantic leads, haven't been tested yet.
posted by mippy at 4:23 PM on January 15, 2013


The evidence suggests otherwise. Anderson Cooper's official coming out garnered remarkably little snark, for example.

And yet Ricky Martin's coming out garnered thousands of snarky "yawn and duh" comments around the internet.

But--surprise!--neither of these gay men--in the public eye since childhood, too--are Jodie Foster. I'd still kill to know why this would have been more acceptable a year ago. Or is it just that it is always better to come out sooner--leading to a catch 22 for gay celebrities, particularly those who have been in the public eye from a young age and from far more hostile times.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:23 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Honestly, not to labour the point, but the arguments here about footballers coming out/not coming out would hold up well for the box office. Even though a footballer coming out as gay would make a huge difference to young men.
posted by mippy at 4:27 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Okay, so why would it have been better a year ago?

Well, to be sure, where I meant the emphasis to fall there was on "conclusively and coherently," which I think is a different debate.

However, If you buy the social utility argument about coming out (i.e., that it's helpful to others) then obviously sooner is better than later.

A year ago also would not have been the occasion of a lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes which, as we have seen, turned out to be a less than an ideal forum for Foster's announcement, such as it was. To have made the announcement from a position of relative repose (i.e., instead of on live television in front of a room full of drunken industry) I think would have made the message easier to understand and would further have had the effect of making her plea for privacy more plausible. It's hard to beg for privacy at a banquet, after all.
posted by La Cieca at 4:29 PM on January 15, 2013


The waters for mainstream Hollywood, for the actresses who will be cast as mothers and romantic leads

It's already established that's not Jodie Foster. She's worked essentially as a character actress since the late 1990s.
posted by La Cieca at 4:31 PM on January 15, 2013


Tipping isn't the norm where I live

Pardon my US-centricity. The point there is that in the US, though tipping is officially optional, it is generally understood that waitstaff cannot make a living wage without tips. Therefore there is a sense in which if you receive service in a restaurant without tipping, you're not playing fair. Within that context, I don't think there's a lot of subjectivity in play: either you tip of you don't tip, but you should realize that by not tipping, you're depriving a worker of his wage.

The "dude on shrooms" scenario is not worthy of comment.
posted by La Cieca at 4:36 PM on January 15, 2013


A year ago also would not have been the occasion of a lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes which, as we have seen, turned out to be a less than an ideal forum for Foster's announcement, such as it was.

I think during a lifetime achievement award is a great time to take full ownership of one's life and public narrative.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:38 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think during a lifetime achievement award is a great time to take full ownership of one's life and public narrative.

By that standard, a wedding toast should be an ideal cue to say you're quitting your job and joining a monastery.
posted by La Cieca at 4:39 PM on January 15, 2013


If a person collapses on a busy street and I attempt to adminster first aid, I can be sued for damages because I am not a registered and licensed first responder.

Generally not true! I suggest that everyone take CPR/First Aid courses and that they learn how to asses and best assist people who are injured or ill.
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:43 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't think it was an "opportunity" for her. Honestly, I genuinely do think it was all about ownership--ownership of her history as someone who has been in the public eye since age 3, ownership of her sexuality, ownership of her relationship with her mother, ownership of her family and friends. While I understand that you think contributing to visibility is important, I, personally, can't get behind the idea that people with fragile pasts (including the Hinckley incident, which must have been incredibly traumatic thing for a young person to go through) need to martyr themselves for the rest of us. And honestly your continued hammering at this issue sure seems hypocritical in light of your having earlier said this: "Not sneering at how other people have chosen to come out is a good place to start."
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:43 PM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


By that standard, a wedding toast should be an ideal cue to say you're quitting your job and joining a monastery.

If it's your own wedding, I can think of no better time.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:44 PM on January 15, 2013


"Within that context, I don't think there's a lot of subjectivity in play: either you tip of you don't tip, but you should realize that by not tipping, you're depriving a worker of his wage."

It's becoming more the norm to tip in restaurants here (I do) but all waiters are (or should be )paid the minimum wage. It's not a huge amount, of course, but there isn't the same sense of obligation for that reason. (The other issue with tipping here is that, if you pay by card, the tips are taken off your card with the bill, and it's unclear whether the actual staff get them at all.) Because tipping isn't culturally ingrained yet it's pretty common for people to question why, say, waiters get a tip but people working on a checkout don't. We also don't tip in bars in the way people do in the US (save someone saying 'and have a drink for yourself' when they order, which is the traditional way of getting to look a bit generous in front of your mates).

So, yeah, people won't get incredibly offended like they would in the Far East, but it isn't nearly as common as it is in the US.
posted by mippy at 4:45 PM on January 15, 2013


"Not sneering at how other people have chosen to come out is a good place to start."

I promise that when I receive my lifetime achievement award, I will not say one unpleasant word about Foster's coming out.
posted by La Cieca at 4:45 PM on January 15, 2013


You're still sneering at how another person has chosen to come out. Repeatedly. Publicly. In the face of several people telling you they felt inspired or heartened by it.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:46 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sneering at sneering isn't really so much sneering as meta-sneering. I will go on the record as saying meta-sneering is fine.
posted by La Cieca at 4:49 PM on January 15, 2013


"If celebrities didn't want people pawing through their garbage and saying they're gay, they shouldn't have tried to express themselves creatively." - Homer Simpson

It takes a certain degree of arrogance to claim to know the best time and manner in which someone should come out. And of any living celebrity, Jodie Foster ranks very high on the list of people who both know the cost of fame and deserve a chance to distinguish between 'people I know' and 'people who only know me through my work'.
posted by gadge emeritus at 4:49 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


PhoBWanKenobi: "You're still sneering at how another person has chosen to come out. Repeatedly. Publicly. In the face of several people telling you they felt inspired or heartened by it."

Honestly, it is kind of weird how many sneering or cutting remarks Foster fit into her speech. Does the fact that it's a coming-out give her the right to cast aspersions on other people who have come out? And to tell them they didn't do it the right way because they don't uphold the sacred traditions of "those very quaint days" that weren't actually very nice for a whole lot of people?
posted by koeselitz at 5:16 PM on January 15, 2013


Does the fact that it's a coming-out give her the right to cast aspersions on other people who have come out? And to tell them they didn't do it the right way because they don't uphold the sacred traditions of "those very quaint days" that weren't actually very nice for a whole lot of people?

I think it's okay to say that those aspects of her speech sucked, but a lot of the criticisms here are about the timing or the lack of a definitive "I'm gay" statement or about the fact that the speech was rambling, and I don't imagine such discussions contribute to an environment where it feels good and safe for people to come out.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:23 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow. Watching again, I simply don't hear the insults in her words, at all. Yes, her delivery is cutting, but humorously so to my ears, and I don't take the remarks about perfume and reality shows and Honey Boo Boo as criticism of other people's choices, but as her sharply-worded way of saying, what other people choose to do, is not for her. To me the unfair criticism has pointed at her all along, not the other way around, and she takes this moment to defend her choices, fiercely, bravely, with vulnerability, and with humor. And I admire the crap out of it.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 6:08 PM on January 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


I seem to be one of the few queermos here who do not believe that anyone has an obligation to come out, not even celebrities. I'm just going to repost my FB rant about this because it's the same argument over and over again everywhere:

Some of the responses to Jodie Foster coming out – or really, any public figure coming out, especially when it’s apparently “took you long enough” – frankly annoy me.

a) “If you have nothing to hide then why not come out sooner?” Having nothing to hide can often look like making it a non-issue. Not everyone anchors their identity around their sexuality. If you’re not going to date them then what business is it of yours to know what their sexuality is? Why is anyone ever obligated to tell you things they may consider private for whatever reason?

b) We claim that if more famous people – or WHOEVER really – “come out”, it will inspire others. BULLSHIT. People come out *now*, wherever they are in the process, and the FIRST THING we bitch about is “they took too long”. We don’t consider them inspiring *now* – when is the magical cut-off date for “inspirational coming out”?

c) Also related to making sexuality a non-issue: Long before Darren Hayes “came out”, he had been telling interviewers who asked about his love life “my boyfriend’s name is Robert”. But it wasn’t until he made a public statement saying those three magic words, “I AM GAY”, that people finally counted him as “coming out”. And now every other article about him is “Gay pop star Darren Hayes” even though 90% of what he’s up to doesn’t really have to do with his sexuality.

d) I once heard (in a discussion about multicultural communities dealing with queer-ness) of a Sudanese lesbian couple in Australia who were currently in their refugee community. They didn’t know what to do about their relationship because they knew it was taboo in their community. Some therapist-type person says “Come out! The queer community will accept you!”. BIG FUCKING MISTAKE. They came out, and not only did they get ostracised by their refugee community, the queer community wouldn’t accept them either. Now they’re peerless and isolated.

We queermos and allies are *really fucking SHIT* at taking care of each other. We tell people “it gets better” rather than *making it better*. We try to guess at people’s sexualities, claiming “OMG they’re obviously GAY why won’t they come out already”, basing it on stupid outdated stereotypes of sexuality and gender – and then we try to judge people for not being “queer” enough. No one’s coming out story is ever good enough for anyone – it’s too late, it’s too obvious, it’s for publicity reasons, it’s fake, whatever. We fight over who counts as queer and don’t accept those that not only come out but are jumping up and down trying to get our attention. We tell people to “come out!” to be inspiration, to be a sacrifice, a martyr, the First Penguin – yet we do FUCK ALL for them once they actually do take that step. We filter and screen and fob off responsibility for caretaking to big antagonistic agencies – “Oh the GOVERNMENT should do all the work!” – and ignore how we *ARE* the Man, *WE* are The System.

I will NEVER advocate for anyone “Coming Out” as some sort of inspirational community good, not when the “community” is so screwy as it is. What I will advocate for is people disclosing only as much as they feel comfortable, when and where they want to, for their own reasons. Screw everyone else. We don’t listen when people come out. Why should we force it when we’re not going to care?
posted by divabat at 6:59 PM on January 15, 2013 [13 favorites]


Watching again, I simply don't hear the insults in her words, at all.

This is just a guess, but you're not gay, are you?
posted by La Cieca at 7:16 PM on January 15, 2013


I don't take the remarks about perfume and reality shows and Honey Boo Boo as criticism of other people's choices

Her comment about talk shows seemed to be her way of belittling Ellen DeGeneres for having come out publicly, which I still don't understand. Did Ellen make a joke about her, long ago? Seemed kind of mean spirited, on Ms. Foster's part.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:19 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just don't know which other lesbian talk show hosts that Ms. Foster could be denigrating. Tyra Banks? A bit of a weird moment in her speech, for sure.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:27 PM on January 15, 2013


Not everyone anchors their identity around their sexuality.

Brings to mind how Aaron Swartz refused to be categorized.

From his 2007 piece: Why I Am Not Gay
Having sex with other people of your gender isn't an identity, it's an act. And, like sex in general among consenting adults, people should be able to do it if they want to. Having sex with someone shouldn't require an identity crisis. (Nobody sees having-sex-with-white-people as part of their identity, even if that’s primarily who they’re attracted to.)

People shouldn't be forced to categorize themselves as "gay," "straight," or "bi." People are just people. Maybe you're mostly attracted to men. Maybe you're mostly attracted to women. Maybe you're attracted to everyone. These are historical claims — not future predictions.

If we truly want to expand the scope of human freedom, we should encourage people to date who they want; not just provide more categorical boxes for them to slot themselves into. A man who has mostly dated men should be just as welcome to date women as a woman who's mostly dated men.

So that's why I'm not gay. I hook up with people. I enjoy it. Sometimes they're men, sometimes they're women. I don't see why it needs to be any more complicated than that.
posted by ericb at 7:28 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is just a guess, but you're not gay, are you?

You are free to claim that being gay gives someone a different perspective on her speech, but I won't answer your passive-aggressive question.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 7:33 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Her comment about talk shows seemed to be her way of belittling Ellen DeGeneres for having come out publicly, which I still don't understand. Did Ellen make a joke about her, long ago? Seemed kind of mean spirited, on Ms. Foster's part.

I don't think she ever mentions talk shows, only reality shows. Perhaps check the transcript again?
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 7:36 PM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is just a guess, but you're not gay, are you?

i am and i agreed with Dixon's take.
posted by twist my arm at 7:52 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


the timing or the lack of a definitive "I'm gay" statement or about the fact that the speech was rambling

Well, there's the problem with trying to shoehorn this kind of statement into a "thank you for honoring my body of work" speech. It's why a lot of celebrities prefer to come out either in a book or else in an interview with a sympathetic journalist-- there's time to expand on the point and not sort of whiz past it in between all the gags and sneers.

The way soft (and most hard) journalism works now, there are very few real surprises other than, say, a DUI arrest or an embassy bombing. In general, the story is eased out, with preliminary leaks about what so-and-so is "probably" going to discuss and so forth. By the time the actual announcement transpires, the public already knows the basics and so they're not distracted by trying to figure out what the message is.

There's no law carved in stone that celebrities need to announce their coming out (or divorces or being cast as the new Batman) but in fact it a time-tested process dating back to old Hollywood and Hedda and Louella. Goodness knows Foster knows how the system works. She chose to try a method entirely new and untested, and it mostly didn't work: some people are confused and some people are angry. In fact, it's not even all that much the message's fault (i.e., the speech reads not so badly): she chose a wildly inappropriate medium to deliver it.
posted by La Cieca at 7:55 PM on January 15, 2013


Yes, clearly, we know you think the whole thing was a failure. For me, as someone who (as I said upthread) rather messily came out to family just a few weeks ago, I found this method pretty honest and emotionally resonant. And that's refreshing, in a way. Her nerves, her fumbling, all of it. A few months ago, I spent a night watching people come out to their parents on youtube, and found her speech much more reflective of those experiences than, say, Anderson Cooper's polished and careful coming out email.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:00 PM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


[This thread needs to not turn into any kind of referendum on Aaron Swartz.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:19 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


PhoBWanKenobi: “For me, as someone who (as I said upthread) rather messily came out to family just a few weeks ago, I found this method pretty honest and emotionally resonant. And that's refreshing, in a way. Her nerves, her fumbling, all of it.”

You know what? As a bisexual guy who is not out to his family, that's really plenty for me. I can understand how a lot of people are annoyed at Jodie Foster's speech, and yeah, a lot of parts of it aren't calibrated quite perfectly. I would not have said what she said. But then – I didn't say it, did I?

I think the main thing here is that, everything in her speech makes it sound almost as though she's against anybody coming out at all – most of all, the bit about "privacy against all else." Coming out is supposed to be a sacrifice of one's privacy for the sake of something greater, and hearing someone make light of the whole coming-out thing while saying she values privacy above all is slightly grating. But that kind of ignores the fact of her coming out. That fact is something she dodges completely, saying she's doing it because she got an "urge," which is frankly bullshit. I think a lot of people imagine she did this speech because she felt forced to by tabloids – that's what I thought – but ultimately I don't think that's true. Jodie Foster could have said any damned thing in the speech; she always has. So – I accept the fact of her coming out in this speech; I accept that it was the act it seems to be, that always-revolutionary act, even if she says nothing about that side of it in her speech itself. She came out, and that's what matters, that's what will be remembered.

And I guess on a more personal note – what you've said about coming out resonates with me a lot. It resonates with me because my parents are very conservative Evangelical Christians. I thought I'd never given any hint whatsoever about that side of me to them; but while I was home on holiday recently, I sat there in sullen silence while my mother very nervously joked on no less than four separate occasions about how she'd love to see me settle down and get married "as long as it's not with another man, ha ha." Sullen, painful silence.

So I don't know if this belongs here or anything, and I guess we're talking about Jodie Foster, but I don't really know Jodie Foster, and I just want to say – you are awesome, PhoBWanKenobi. Good for you for doing an awesome, awesome thing. And thank you, from all the rest of us out here in that weird situation. It means a lot.
posted by koeselitz at 8:26 PM on January 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


Add me to the list of people who thought Jodie was already kinda out years ago when she mentioned her partner and kids in a previous speech. On the whole, I thought the whole thing was kinda rambling. My main thought was that someone who has been in the spotlight her whole life, trained to be in front of a camera and receiving an award she knew she was going to be getting probably could have been a wee better prepared and polished to get across whatever point she wanted to get across.

As for the debate on whether LGBTQQIA celebrities (and regular folk) have a responsibility to be "out" or not....it depends. There's no doubt that being out and visible has been one of the successful tactic the LGBT movement has used to win hearts and minds. When being queer (to avoid alphabet soup here) is no longer a dirty secret, everyone wins. Many people change their minds about "the homosexuals" when they know one, even if it's that dude they like on TV. Yet, it is still not safe for everyone to be out. Call it the queer paradox: being out makes it safer but it has to be safe in order to be out. I am a proud poly bi black pagan feminist who is totally out about those identities in most situations but not all. I don't get to decide when it is safe for someone else to be out, but I do what I can to make it safe as possible for others through activism, being out myself and being willing to have awkward conversations. I do think we need people to stop treating non-heteronormative identities as a secret but it's not my place to "out" people or force them into identities they don't claim for themselves.

My only concern with those who don't identify as gay, les, bi is that not having a common label makes it harder to organize and exist as a community. Most social and political movements have this problem though. (I also believe it turns sexuality into an individual preference almost, ignoring the social and cultural ways sexuality is rendered and defined but that is perhaps a rant for another day.)
posted by Misty_Knightmare at 9:07 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think the main thing here is that, everything in her speech makes it sound almost as though she's against anybody coming out at all – most of all, the bit about "privacy against all else."

Yeah, I did get the sense that she was running down other people's choices, and that part bothered me-- especially because what I liked about the speech (otherwise) was that it fit her situation. Her situation being very unusual. She's been in the public eye forever and people have known about her having woman partners for a good portion of that time. How do you come out when everybody has known for that long? Anderson Cooper is about her age, I think, but he was never famous the way she has been, and certainly not as a little kid. Even with him, it seemed like the general public reaction was like, "Well, knock me down!" I thought Foster's speech managed to convey, "Look, we all know I'm gay," while still being heartfelt, but while also not suggesting that she assumed everyone was thinking about her gayness all along, which would have sounded rather self-aggrandizing even if on some level it was true. So many pitfalls in her situation.
posted by BibiRose at 4:59 AM on January 16, 2013


"Privacy — maybe someday in the future we’ll look back and realize how beautiful it once was."

I understand why people are disappointed she didn't say, "I am a lesbian!" However, I didn't hear her comments on privacy as a statement on her sexuality, but rather cautionary words about how celebrities live in this Kardashian era. She is a private person in many aspects of her life. That approach seems to have worked out for her and, as has been linked upthread, she worries about the impact our current TMZ-fueled celebrity culture has on younger stars today.

The words she said to her mother were beautiful. That was my favorite part of the speech.
posted by missmerrymack at 5:06 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Looking back at the transcript, Ms. Foster mentioned reality shows, not talk shows. Mea culpa.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:59 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


FWIW, as a queer person, it never even occured to me that Jodie Foster insulted anybody. I took it as "what the hell? Can't I just live my life without having to make a huge production of every little intimate detail about me?" - not stabbing at those who *do*, more the *societal expectation* that just "being out" isn't enough for anybody.
posted by divabat at 2:17 PM on January 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


Misty_Knightmare: "My only concern with those who don't identify as gay, les, bi is that not having a common label makes it harder to organize and exist as a community. Most social and political movements have this problem though. (I also believe it turns sexuality into an individual preference almost, ignoring the social and cultural ways sexuality is rendered and defined but that is perhaps a rant for another day.)"

And this is why I like to self-identify as "non-judgemental." As in, if you dig someone, go for it.

Period.
posted by Samizdata at 7:49 AM on January 22, 2013


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