Jane Fonda canvasses Trump supporters, lets them talk & rarely gets recognized

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I’ve made no secret about how much I adore Jane Fonda. I have yet to see Book Club, but it’s on my list. The 80-year-old actress agave a compelling interview to Britain’s Guardian, where she proved that she is still as politically aware as ever. She also talked frankly about getting older, as it applies to health and relationships and she also talks about her plastic surgery. The whole interview is definitely worth your while, but here are a few highlights:

On her feminist activism roots clashing with her role in the sci-fi hit Barbarella:
“I took a lot of heat on it from feminists. The new women’s movement was in its early stages and there was a lot of…” she adopts a comically stern voice: “‘How do you feel making a movie that exploits women, like Barbarella?’ You’d kind of want to say: ‘Well, honey, nobody forced me.’ But,” she concedes, “it wasn’t much fun to make it.”

On #MeToo:
“I am very grateful to be alive through this,” she says softly. “I did not think I would live to see it. Yes. And I think that it’s going to continue, it’s not just a moment. I love the Time’s Up aspect of it. We’re working with women from all different places. I’m going to DC to lobby with domestic workers. The farm workers up in Bakersfield. It’s all of us together, having each other’s backs.”

On the president:
“What I said was, when Trump was elected and white supremacy was exposed, I realised that, as a white woman, the lens through which I was looking at race was too narrow. I think a lot of Trump’s election had to do with white supremacy and anger at a black president. I was stunned at how close to the surface racism in the United States is, and I needed to understand it better, so my intention right now is to try to understand more profoundly what it means to be black in the United States.”

“I’m a white woman and this is something that we white women have to know: you can’t just be empathetic, you have to be very intentional. We have to confront racism. We have to stop this. Not buy into the lies that we’re told about how the prison system stops crime. No, it creates crime.”

On visiting the homes of Trump voters on the weekends:
“When you’re talking to them you can’t criticize Trump. You can’t criticize Fox News. All you can do is listen to what they care about and what they’re afraid of, and then maybe tell them something that they don’t know. Because we’re all in our bubbles, including me.”

Do people recognize her?
“I was in Bakersfield last Saturday and knocked on 30 doors. Only one person saw me coming and said: ‘Grace and Frankie!’ It was a kick! Nobody else knew who I was. I just say: ‘I’m Jane.’ They don’t need to know.”

On her late(r) career comeback with Grace and Frankie and Book Club, among other projects:
“Oh, I just feel damn lucky. I retired for 15 years. I left at 50 and came back at 65. I was married to Ted Turner and Ted didn’t really help me with confidence and things like that. So after that I wanted to see if I could enjoy it again. But, at 65, I never thought I’d have a career. And a hit TV show! I’m 80! I keep pinching myself! I can’t believe it! I didn’t think I would live this long!”

On her new “fitness” regime:
While Jane admits, “I can’t do the original workouts any more, because I’ll hurt myself, as I have joint replacements,” she says her main form of exercise these days involves jumping into things “before I really know what I’m doing. It’s called a leap of faith and it’s my main form of exercise. It’s what keeps me young, too. That’s my new workout. When you take a leap of faith you don’t always land in the right place, but you sure do learn things. It’s good for the heart.”

[From The Guardian]

As much as I love Jane’s honesty and candor, something she’s no stranger to, I can’t believe the woman who has made us laugh since the 1960s and Barefoot in the Park, not to mention 9 to 5 AND Grace and Frankie says, “I don’t have a natural funny bone.” Of course, she jokingly added, “I come from a long line of depressed people.” Encouragingly, she asserted that “I think there are going to be more women-centric movies, like Book Club, now,” adding that, “I don’t think this is a phase – I think this is it.” This makes me happy, and reinforces in my mind that Jane is a national treasure.

A note from Corey: If you want to know more about Jane, specifically her activism, I highly recommend listening to the amazing podcast You Must Remember This. Karina did a series on her (and Jean Seberg) that sheds a lot of light on this complicated, amazing woman.

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42 Responses to “Jane Fonda canvasses Trump supporters, lets them talk & rarely gets recognized”

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  1. Sara says:

    I love her. I consider her part French since her French is so beautiful.

  2. Becks1 says:

    I like hearing her say that about white women. It’s so true. We (white women) play a huge role in perpetuating racism and I think some of that is intentional, if coded (“good schools,” “good neighborhoods,” etc) but I think a lot is unintentional and we need to do better.

  3. minx says:

    Her father and all three husbands tried to chip away at her confidence. I read her autobiography and she’s a remarkably forgiving person towards these men. I’m a huge fan of hers.

    • Slowsnow says:

      That’s what strikes me. I always love how humble she is, with the “not a funny bone in her” spiel, but then always revert to thinking that it must be part of her lack of confidence too.

  4. lightpurple says:

    I love her. I love that she’s reaching out to the domestic workers and farm workers with her experience in activism. And I LOVE that red pantsuit.

  5. Rapunzel says:

    Love Jane, but this comment on Trump supporters is a little bothersome to me:
    “When you’re talking to them you can’t criticize Trump. You can’t criticize Fox News. All you can do is listen to what they care about and what they’re afraid of, and then maybe tell them something that they don’t know. Because we’re all in our bubbles, including me.”

    Why are still tiptoeing around these people and their racism and ignorance? It’s what is allowing Trump to win. We need to fight harder and stop worrying about making these people angry. They’re angry anyways. No reaching out to them will change their hatred of liberals. as for telling them things they don’t know, they refuse to listen. Why are we wasting our breath? Sure, everyone is in their own bubble, but Trumpsters are a special breed of toxic and ignorant . They’re not just in a bubble, they’re in a bubble of racism and desire to destroy America.

    • Vava says:

      they don’t think they are destroying America. Just like the Nazi Party didn’t think it was ruining Germany. History is repeating itself and these people don’t even see it.

    • Coz' says:

      While I understand the urge to fight really hard those people face to face (I always want to scream at far right voters in my country), maybe Jane Fonda’s approach is more efficient. Because some of those voters might be redeemed, you can pull them back from obscurantism but you can’t achieve that by yelling at them or be frontal.
      To fight racism you need to educate people, or at least their children. Because it is equally rooted in hatred and ignorance.
      At least that’s how I understand her comment.

      • Rapunzel says:

        I agree with that approach in general. But my experience with Trump supporters has shown me that they are just fact resistant. And it’s wasting your breath to try and educate them. I have not run into any real exceptions to this rule.

      • Slowsnow says:

        I agree with you. She is admirable because I have a hard time tolerating intolerance but screaming only makes them believe that people unlike them are savages who know nothing.
        I had a similar experience the other day with my boss’ husband who is a dear old man. He was going on and on about how men will always be macho. I listened to his argument about cavemen (I kid you not) and calmly told him that if machoism was not a social construct how come men were changing diapers and wanting parental leave to let their women work and still be heterosexual, love football or whatever nonsense is supposed to make up manhood?
        Edit: the “tell them something they don’t know” is crucial IMO. It makes us educate ourselves and surprise others with the serenity of knowledge.

      • Neelyo says:

        Engaging with Trump supporters on a face to face, common ground basis is a privilege only cisgender, heterosexual caucasians enjoy.

        As a gay person of color I’m not making any effort to engage with someone who hates me upon sight and would trample on my rights as soon as look at me.

      • tealily says:

        @Neelyo, but isn’t this exactly what cisgender, hetersexual caucasians are supposed to be doing? Engaging, and trying to change people’s minds? How often have white women been told to “come and get your people” since this election? This is using privilege in exactly the right way… using a voice that is more likely to be heard, reaching out, and sharing information. This is how minds are changed.

    • SM says:

      I admire her for this. Clearly, I would not be able to do that. But we need to understand there is no restriction on voting rights based on stupidity, racism or anger. So if this work that she does, say her ability to interact with them and say somethig new to them will swing part of population put of this oblivious ignorance, then I am all for someone to do this dirty work.

    • frankly says:

      That reminded me of the Sarah Silverman segment when she went and stayed with the Trump voters in Louisiana. Where at the end she was like, “I hate to have to tell you guys this, but you’re all liberals.”

    • Tate says:

      I agree, Rapunzel. There is no reaching trumpeters and I have no interest in trying. I am more interested in registering new voters and making sure they get out and vote. That seems like a better use of my time.

      • Chaine says:

        Yep. If other people want to interface, more power to them, but it would not be a good use of my time.

    • tealily says:

      I think what she’s saying is that you will not get your point across if you criticize Trump or Fox News directly, because they will just go on the defense and shut down. She’s talking about strategies of keeping the lines of communication open so that you can “tell them something they don’t know” and it will actually be absorbed.

  6. Tania says:

    I love Grace and Frankie. We just finished a transatlantic cruise and were worried about all the down time with no stops and possibly not having an internet connection so I downloaded the entire season of Grace & Frankie and watched it. Her activism is inspiring as well.

  7. Mia4s says:

    Seconding the recommendation for the “You Must Remember This” podcast series on Jean and Jane. Phenomenal. I am addicted to that podcast overall (back in July!!).

    Trump voters are a result of something I noticed for a long time. As an outsider every time I go to the USA I’m amazed at the amount of fear of, well, everything, that permeates the alleged “most powerful nation”. It’s no way to live your life. Fearful (and poorly educated) populations are easier to manipulate and control.

    • Veronica says:

      Post 9/11 America is always afraid. We thought we were untouchable. Our chickens came home to roost.

      • Mia4s says:

        Yeah that was my sense that 9/11 was a big part of it. I remember in the days after the attack that while internationally we were horrified and shocked by the nature of the attack, too many Americans seemed to think it was all completely out of the blue. Most of the rest of us knew it wasn’t, it really wasn’t. The “security” the USA enjoyed was always an illusion. These people trying to sell a way back to it know that, and sadly too many are ripe for manipulation. Jane’s right, most of them can’t be reasoned with.

    • ValiantlyVarnished says:

      This thread and post are giving me so much joy to see there are people who love the You Must Remember This podcast as much as I do! The Jean/Jane season was amazing but the entire podcast is phenomenal. I always recommend it to people. I’ve learned so much not only about Old Hollywood but it’s context in history in general.

      • Carrie1 says:

        The ep about Bette Davis and the canteen, how she protected women, floored me. History has been unkind to Bette so I knew little about her. Now I’ve got great respect for Bette. That podcast is excellent.

  8. Gailly says:

    Love Lady Jane! (Also, I laughed my behind off at Book Club this weekend.)

  9. serena says:

    Love her!

  10. C-Shell says:

    I love her, always have, she may be my spirit animal. Still, I had a weird moment recently. I usually put a few recent editions of magazines in my main guest room in case visitors want a little light reading before bed. I had last fall’s issue of Town & Country with Jane on the cover out (it was a gorgeous black and white, unretouched photo of her that I loved). My mother and step-father spent a few days with me a few months ago, and my “unnatural father,” as we like to joke, came downstairs the first morning and wondered if I put the magazine with Jane Fonda in the guest room to needle him. I hadn’t given it a thought.

    He served in the Air Force as a career officer and spent the Vietnam years flying wounded personnel out of Southeast Asia. This is not a man who supports Trump or Fox News, although he’s conservative politically, but he and I have never had a problem discussing politics rationally. It never occurred to me that he might still see her as Hanoi Jane.

    It wasn’t a problem, but it was an odd feeling to recognize that there’s still resentment out there for her activism during the Vietnam era.

    • grizzled says:

      My retired Air Force husband also hated Hanoi Jane. I showed him the Snopes article that examines the truth/lies about that time of her life and we had a good discussion about it.


      Lies have a surprising staying power, although in Trump’s America, I shouldn’t be surprised at this.

      • C-Shell says:

        Thank you for that link! I’ve never heard the part about Jane betraying US POWs, and I’d bet my step-father hasn’t either. He doesn’t buy into fake or hyped news, but is very much a historian, particularly of military history. I believe it’s enough in his mind that she spent two weeks in North Vietnam and recorded radio broadcasts aimed at the USAF, his branch of the service.

  11. lucy2 says:

    I give her a lot of credit for being so involved still and walking the walk.

  12. ValiantlyVarnished says:

    OMG Corey! I was literally thinking about the You Must Remember This podcast while reading this! It’s one of my favorite podcasts and the season on Jean Seberg/Jane Fonda was amazing. Jane has lived more lives in 80 years than anyone besides maybe Elizabeth Taylor. She’s amazing!

  13. Janie says:

    911 changed the world. I came back from a vacation through the LA airport a few months ago. One can feel the paranoia there. I noticed something else too that I have not experience before. Not one black person made eye contact or smiled back. It left me wondering if this is the result of Trump’s presidency. I’m so thankful I don’t live there.

    • Anika says:

      @Janie: I live in L.A., and I can honestly say that your perceptions surprise me a great deal. In a big city–as in an airport–people tend to be focused on their own world, distracted, rushed, but I see no change whatsoever since Trump’s “presidency” (or attempted dictatorship) in racial relationships here. One of my weekend jobs is as a dog walker, and I meet people around the neighborhoods–black, white, Middle Eastern, Latino, and Asian–who are friendly, kind, and helpful, every afternoon that I am out. My junior high and grade school age nephew and niece–who are Palestinian on their father’s side—have close friends and acquaintances from just about every ethnic, racial, and religious background. Their parents, as well, are warm, kind, and open minded, and curious to learn about cultures different from their own. So, no, I don’t–in L.A.—see “the result of Trump’s presidency” at all. (Then again, I don’t know anyone here who voted for Trump: California is an overwhelmingly democratic state…) Btw, I’m not quite sure why you say “9/11 changed everything” (which occurred under President Bush) and then go on to state that it’s “Trump’s presidency” that has changed all of America’s interracial relations. What does one have to do with the other? Genuinely unsure what you’re implying/perceiving.

  14. Lala says:

    Jane Fonda is the living example of my manifesto…”I hope I die before I get old…” which isn’t about my age…it’s about the fact that I know the minute I close myself off to new experiences…new ideas…if I stay in my own protected bubble and don’t venture out and engage…I will become stagnant…and stagnation equals death to me…In my 50 years…I’ve seen people who were SUCH dynamos when they younger…turn into closed-minded mean-spirited entities…a total betrayal of who they were…I will not go down like that!

    I’m gonna be like Jane!!!! (Except when it comes to racists…I don’t engage in that inhumanity at all…I don’t have that luxury)

    BTW…she wasn’t kidding when she talks about being surrounded by depression…one of my favorite auto-biographies that I read as a child was “Haywire” which was written by Brooke Hayward, the daughter of legendary agent, Leland Hayward and magnificent actress Margaret Sullivan…and the Haywire and Fonda children all grew up together…because their parents were so close…and they were neighbors…in fact, Margaret was ONCE married to Henry (y’all want to hear about MESSY relationships…the stuff I have read about from back in the day!!!) And Brooke wrote extensively about how dark and depressing Henry could be…and the effects it had on Jane’s Mama…who was fighting her own demons to save her mental health which ended tragically when the Jane and Peter were young…it was like Jane said…she was surrounded by depression!

  15. Linda says:

    Cant stand her. She comes to our province and tells us peasants how to live and then flies home on her private jet to one of her many mansions. She is just like Dicaprio. Live like I tell you to but not as I do. Hippocrites at their finest.

  16. Em says:

    80 is the new 60.

  17. Kelly says:

    Love Jane!! She’s the best!!