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MAY 8, 2001




On May 8 at Lincoln Center, Jane Fonda was honored by the glitterati.  Although the event was a fund-raiser, ostensibly the festivities were a tribute to Fonda’s 30-year movie career.    


Good business for Lincoln Center’s Film Society, to be sure.  But an outrage, given Fonda’s l972 propaganda activities on behalf of the North Vietnamese during a shooting war.  Would Tokyo Rose, Axis Sally, or Lord Haw Haw, whatever their accomplishments, have been so honored?  We think not. Like Fonda, they made broadcasts for the enemy and would have been the object of vehement protests — as Fonda should.

There will be many more opportunities to do just that in light of what this Film Society tribute was really all about — from Fonda’s perspective.

Since earlier this year, Hanoi Jane has once again been reinventing herself. 


Ingénue, award-winning actress, semi-expatriate, anti-war activist, fitness guru, trophy wife — these were all stages of Fonda’s life.  And now that she and Ted Turner are divorced, she is actively seeking yet another identity.  Years ago, having formed the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention, Fonda has now transformed it into a vehicle for her metamorphosis.

But first she had to be visible — reclaim the spotlight.  That’s what the Lincoln Center tribute was about.  We rest our case on the chronology for the first few months of this year:

February  — Fonda breaks the story of a forthcoming autobiography; much media ink is spilled.  Fonda is lauded by Barbara Walters on “20/20,”using the occasion to make a glib and empty “apology” to Vietnam veterans; Fox TV News trumpets Fonda’s “contrition”; the publicity is worldwide.  Fonda, allegedly through with acting, appears briefly in a controversial New York play, The Vagina Monologues; more publicity.  Not a bad month’s work.

March — Ted Turner reportedly settles on his wife, Jane Seymour Fonda Plemiannikov Hayden Turner, $100 million — she, in turn, settling $12.5 million of her newfound wealth on Harvard to fund a questionable gender studies program; more ink spilled, more  TV coverage.


April — Fonda makes a speech in Ft. Worth about teen pregnancy. Although veterans and others who remember Vietnam protest her appearance, substantively she’s on the right side of an important social issue.  Fonda makes it official: she’s divorcing Turner; a dutiful press gives this stale news  lots of play.  The tune played throughout the publicity-seeking maneuvers is consistent: Fonda is now “her own woman.”

In anticipation of the Lincoln Center tribute, puff pieces appear in various sections of The New York Times touting “Jane Fonda: An Unscripted Life Starring Herself.”  Missing is any discussion of her wartime trip to Hanoi, as if her actions were an insignificant part of her life not worth exploring.  And now Lincoln Center’s Film Society makes a valuable contribution to Fonda’s self-promoted reinvention by showcasing her movie career.  The Film Society has — wittingly or unwittingly — aided and abetted Fonda’s calculated campaign to reenter public life as someone other than a decorative appendage to Ted Turner.  As for Fonda’s anti-American activities in North Vietnam, the Society not only skirted the subject, but steered clear of such revealing films as Godard’s and Gorin’s Letter to Jane (critical of her trip to Hanoi) and Introduction to the Enemy (made in Hanoi in 1974 by Fonda and radical Tom Hayden).  The Lincoln Center Film Society, like the American press, has given Hanoi Jane a virtual pass regarding her reprehensible conduct in North Vietnam.




We have a three-part hypothesis, drawn from experience with agents and publishers over the forthcoming book, “Aid and Comfort”: Hanoi Jane in North Vietnam.  First, fear of Fonda and/or Turner, whose wealth and power give pause to those who would offend them.  Second, sympathy for Fonda’s anti-war stance, dropping the context that one could — and many did — protest the Vietnam War without propagandizing for the enemy. Third, indifference, born of the view that Fonda’s behavior in North Vietnam is “stale.”  This notion embraces several subsets.  It’s ancient history; let’s move on.  Or, No one cares anymore.  Or, Treason?  That’s much too esoteric a subject.  Or, Fonda apologized, didn’t she?


We submit that the full story of Fonda’s propaganda trip to North Vietnam is far from “stale.”  If treason is esoteric, if no one cares, how to explain that in the seventy-five days that www.HANOIJANE.NET has been on-line, the site has  received thousands of visits and plenty of outspoken emails — virtually every one of which condemns what Fonda did and bemoans the fact that she was never brought to account?  These people are of one mind.  Let the truth be told.  Let documentation of her actions in Vietnam be published for all the world to see.  Let the stigma follow her for the rest of her life.


Despite Fonda’s ongoing efforts to reinvent herself, she cannot escape that stigma.