While the Golden Globe Awards last night focused on the best in film and television over the past year, there is one award acceptance speech that managed to get most of the attention and was the subject of discussion on social media as soon as it was delivered last night. Jodie Foster, actor/director/etc., was presented with the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award last night and she used her 6+ speech to ramble on about her personal life, her privacy, her career and more. Over the course of her speech, Jodie officially confirmed to the world that she is gay after spending a 50 year lifetime never addressing the subject and then kinda sorta announced that she was retiring from Hollywood. I make take some flak for this but I wasn’t all that impressed with her speech. While I applaud her well-deserved award and love that she finally came out as gay, I can’t say that I loved her overall speech as much as pretty much everyone else seems to.
Jodie Foster’s winding, emotional acceptance speech upon receiving the Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes was one of the show’s standout moments. The six-and-a-half-minute oration, in which Foster addressed her sexuality, her privacy, her career and her family, seemed to draw a unanimous reaction at first: one of sheer surprise. After the initial shock subsided, two big questions hung in the air. Had Foster come out as gay? And had she announced her retirement? Reaction in the ballroom, and backstage, was strong, though interpretations varied. “That was great, wasn’t it?” said actor John Hawkes. “She handled herself with such grace and wit. It was really amazing.” Lena Dunham said backstage: “I thought Jodie Foster’s speech was mind blowingly beautiful. … It was really a complex, interesting assessment of what it’s like to have a creative career over a long period of time.” Jessica Chastain added: “I don’t know what she was trying to relate, but I can tell you what I took from the speech, as an actress I struggle with the idea of privacy. …The actors who I respect are the ones who try hard to keep their privacy like Jodie Foster — I think when an actor is able to do that the audience is better able to accept them in different roles.” Outside the room, assessments were hardly uniform. Christy Lemire of the Associated Press wrote that “Jodie Foster came out without really coming out, and suggested she was retiring from acting without exactly saying so.” Seth Abramovitch of the Hollywood Reporter said, “If you were expecting a coming-out speech at the Golden Globes, Jodie Foster wasn’t about to oblige.” But, he added, “without actually saying the words ‘I’m gay,’ Foster acknowledged that she’s never lived her life any way other than as a gay woman.” The Advocate’s Diane Anderson-Minshall wrote, “The speech began a bit like a light-hearted comic interlude but was actually a serious and thoughtful combination of a coming out speech and a retirement goodbye.” She added, “It was a winking nod to her fans and followers who by now know that Foster is gay” … Backstage after the speech, Foster dispelled the notion that she was retiring from moviemaking. “I could never stop acting,” she said. “You’d have to drag me behind a team of horses.” She added, “I’d like to be directing tomorrow. But, no, I’m actually more into [acting] than I’ve ever been.” When asked by reporters what she intended to get across with her speech, Foster said, “That people change. That change is important. Hopefully, I’ll be doing different things than when I was at 3 years old or 6 years old … That work evolves.” She added, “The speech kind of speaks for itself.”
Now, I first have to say that I am very impressed that Jodie chose this big moment to confirm to the world that she is gay. Not because, as she says, gay celebrities are “expected to” come out but because when they chose to do so of their own volition, they are speaking to a multitude of scared gay people out there who may be afraid to deal with their own sexuality and may find comfort in the words of someone they look up to, respect and admire … someone who is gay, like they are. Jodie makes clear that she never chose to discuss her sexuality publicly because she has already done so with family, friends and people she’s “actually met” and that was good enough for her … indeed, that is good enough for anyone. How someone chooses to come out is a very personal matter and there is no wrong way to do so. I tend to bristle, tho, when outrageously famous and wealthy celebrities complain about the fame and wealth that they enjoy. Jodie shared with us that she has been dealing with public scrutiny since she was a toddler, as if it was a curse or punishment that was placed on her without her approval. As if she hasn’t enjoyed a life of privilege that 99% of us will never experience, as if she has not enjoyed power and wealth that comes along with such scrutiny. She has suffered at the hands of the public eye, she wants us to believe, while she addresses a room filled with some of the most wealthy, the most influential and the most famous people in the US (and world) in a speech that was beamed to adoring fans all around the globe on TV and online. She’s got it rough. And, let’s not forget, Jodie still counts among her closest friends Mel Gibson, a self-proclaimed homophobe and anti-Semite … a man who was arrested for his crimes and remains pretty unrepentant to this day. Again, far be it for me or anyone else to tell Jodie who to be friends with, but all of these things kept rolling around in my head as she delivered her impassioned speech last night. Please understand, I am not attacking nor am I finding any real fault with Jodie’s emotional speech last night. I’m sure it was a special moment for her and she delivered an excellent speech, worthy of the occasion. Her message at the end to her former partner, her children and her mother was extremely touching, very well spoken and truly heartfelt — definitely my favorite parts of her speech. I just need to share my personal opinion that I wasn’t quite in love with everything that she unlike pretty much everyone else who did love her speech entirely … and that’s OK. What did y’all think of Jodie’s speech, were you moved? Did you love it … why … or why not?