Recalcitrant Rebel Recycles Relevancy

While many Americans took to the streets to express their disapproval of this country’s involvement in the Vietnam war, Jane Fonda is the only American known to have taken to the streets in the enemy's capital during wartime to yuck it up with her pals in the Viet Cong and play-act shooting down American aircraft. What a cut-up that Jane was!

Among her variety of radical enthusiasms, Jane supported the Black Panthers (ideology: anti-fascism, anti-imperialism, Maoism, Marxist-Leninism, revolutionary socialism, violent overthrow of existing institutions—all very stylish at the time). Said Jane: "Revolution is an act of love; we are the children of revolution, born to be rebels. It runs in our blood."

Not bloody likely. What coursed through Jane’s capillaries was the Fonda bloodline, which afforded her the luxury of press attention when it suited her (and her suitably suitable causes) and a monied family to backstop her freewheeling foolishness whenever her “power to the people” routine became inimical to the creature comforts she alternately disdained and enjoyed.

Later William Friedkin, the director of the Exorcist movie, briefly considered casting Henry Fonda’s daughter in a role in that film; she declined, calling the project “a piece of capitalist rip-off bullsh*t”—which is to say, somebody might make money out of it, and Jane was in no mood to be associated with something as tawdry and bourgeois as that. Having already established her anti-American bona fides, she availed herself of that and other opportunities to express her distaste for free enterprise as well.

In the fullness of time, Jane became quite the capitalist herself, selling a glittering pyramid of exercise videos, as well as condescending to make peace—reluctantly, no doubt—with the crass commercialism of the movie business—a business which over the decades employed her frequently and paid her well.

(Eventually she even married billionaire CNN mogul Ted Turner. We may reasonably assume that she was financially well looked-after in the divorce.)

Here and there along the way she sort of apologized for her shenanigans in Hanoi, at one point claiming, implausibly, that when her Viet Cong playmates invited her to take a seat behind an anti-aircraft gun, she just thought it was a funny-looking Vietnamese-style deck chair or something, and had simply no idea it was a weapon of war used to kill young American airmen. She also explained that while, sure, she had mugged for the cameras just a bit, she was absolutely appalled to learn that those cameras had been used to, well, take photographs of her doing it.

But never mind. Who among us didn’t divert some of our adolescent (or in Jane’s case, post-adolescent) attention to errant notions, and were chagrined about it by and by? The late 1960’s in particular were a tumultuous time, and the war was writ large in the collective consciousness of Americans who saw the carnage broadcast nightly on TV (the first armed conflict available for regular television viewing), while they noted the tally of American body bags exceeding 58,000 in the prosecution of a war whose objectives ultimately morphed into the amorphous. Jane was no “child of revolution” but she was a child of the sixties. Should she be forgiven for her youthful indiscretions? I believe that she should.

However, forgiveness for the follies of youth doesn’t confer blanket amnesty to act like a damned fool in later years. Jane is not a stupid woman; by now she should have learned a thing or three.

The metamorphosis of Jane from young and fashionably rebellious rabble-rouser through to dowager manqué brought to mind this apostolic stanza: “When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.”

Jane has achieved the age of eighty-two as of this writing. Alas, she has acquired wealth, but not wisdom. She is wizened, but not wise. She has not so much put away childish things as exchanged some childish things for others.

Jane has, in her dotage, begun taking to the streets again—this time the streets of this country; and this time not in protest of an arguably misbegotten war in some far-off backwater, but in protest of the entire Earth being too warm now, or getting too warm eventually, or something—an alleged consequence of a surfeit of economic activity (Jane’s youthful bugbear), which has done her many a good turn, but according to contemporary theory is bad for the planet and ought therefore to be circumscribed to the point of suffocation.

To hell with all the world’s great unwashed and their grubby, unseemly striving for financial security! It’s too late for any more of that; the planet can’t bear it. Fortunately, unlike those poor saps, Jane has her stylish convictions and a $200 million fortune to comfort her during the coming pseudo-apocalypse.

Jane has been getting herself arrested occasionally—and of course publicly—at “climate change” events. She has recently announced herself “inspired” by the also quite stylish activism of one Greta Thunberg, a Swedish teen diagnosed, by the way, with any number of psychological disturbances, including autism, Asperger’s syndrome, OCD and selective mutism.

To suggest that Greta is hysterical about the imminent self-immolation of the Earth sometime between 12 minutes and 12 years from now would be an understatement. We would be remiss to do less than utterly condemn the girl’s parents and the other adults orbiting around her—Jane included—for exploiting the child’s emotional fragility for their own entertainment and aggrandizement.

The last thing this turbulent girl needs is Jane and her opportunistic ilk. The child needs calm assurance, care and treatment, not the feckless sycophancy of an irresponsible octogenarian in thrall to the perpetuation of her own radical self-image.

"Busted again. Look how cool I still am!"