A couple of weeks ago, Penn Jillette decided to chime in on the controversy that followed after Jane Fonda said “cunt” on national television. In fact, it was from Penn’s video diary that I heard about the non-event.
From Crackle:[The video is no longer available]
Penn provided the catalyst for me to put down why this grudge has always bothered me.
Whenever someone refers to Fonda as “Hanoi Jane” (and it’s usually a conservative) I think to myself, this decades-old grudge makes her so much more important than she deserves to be. She’s a fucking actress! What she did in 1972 in Hanoi (for which she apologized years later) was stupid and irresponsible.
Imagine that: a stupid, irresponsible entertainer!
Whenever Jane Fonda succeeds in reminding the world that she exists, it provides the Fonda grudge holders of the world an opportunity to give her even more undeserved attention — and they can never resist it. They seem to be unaware that it serves her interests.
One of my favorite Warner Bros. cartoons is “An Itch in Time” which features a dog with a flea, but the dog is threatened by Elmer Fudd that he will get a bath if he scratches himself again. The dog is in agony from the itching. He creeps over to the sleeping cat and kicks it. The cat responds instantly by rapidly scratching the dog. The dog leans into the scratching with an ecstatic sigh.
To me, the dog is Jane Fonda, the flea is her celebrity narcissism, and the cat represents all of the Jane haters that can’t help but give her the satisfaction she is seeking.
The scratching moment occurs at about 5:50. It’s hilarious.
I actively work at not knowing or caring about the personal lives and the personal opinions of entertainers. I only wish it were as easy as maintaining my ignorance about the personal opinions of other people from whose professions I benefit. For example, the last interaction I had with an unfamiliar person was the cashier at a bookstore tonight. His personal and political opinions had no reason to intrude on my dealings with him tonight — and they didn’t. (Though he did provide me with excellent, friendly service.)
Penn Jillette should be no exception to me, but I can’t help but think of him as someone I would like if I knew him personally. For one, he’s a public atheist, and he’s funny — a celebrity antidote for the charmlessness of the atheists getting press lately. In addition, he’s an anti-celebrity in the sense that he seems to have little vanity, nor does he seem overly invested in wanting to be loved — or hated.
Perhaps I’m projecting. He is an entertainer after all. He’s on “Dancing With the Stars” now, for chrissakes. I’ve been watching and enjoying his video diary since it came out, and have found myself a bit disappointed in some of his statements and opinions — such as his adding to the latest “Hanoi Jane” chatter.