And yet when someone who has a legitimate and powerful role on the world stage is invited to be a commencement speaker, but is a vital part of the Bush Administration, the list of protests by faculty and students is a mile long. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice might just be the perfect commencement speaker, a black woman who rose from poverty to become an architect of foreign policy and a widely respected member of a presidential cabinet. No less than two hundred faculty members signed a letter of protest after Boston College invited Dr. Rice to deliver the commencement address there. Two hundred out of approximately one thousand faculty members at Boston College have signed this ugly petition. It’s not likely that Jodie Foster, whose only claim to fame is the ability to memorize lines, hit her mark, and deliver a convincing performance as an FBI agent or terrorized passenger on an airplane, received any formal protestations from faculty or students at Penn.
Don’t misunderstand my opinion of Jodie Foster, the entertainer. Like a lot of people, I think she’s a great actress and I have enjoyed her films. But I also like Barbra Streisand’s voice or Alec Baldwin’s acting or even Al Franken’s “Stuart Smalley” on Saturday Night Live. Who gives a rat’s rear end what an entertainer thinks about important issues like the war or a nation’s response to a hurricane? These aren’t people who have been elected or even appointed to serious positions of authority or credibility. They are pampered, out of touch performers who use their fame and celebrity as a platform for their vicious, nasty opinions.
One rarely sees an actor or singer stand up and slam America, our troops, or our president as they are rising up the entertainment ladder. That’s because they don’t have the intestinal fortitude to put their wealth and privilege on the line for their un-American beliefs. Until they become rich and famous, people like Jodie Foster will just keep their heads down, do their work (which is to entertain their audience), and keep their mouths shut. Once they get a few multi-million dollar deals to star in movies or make albums, they suddenly become filled with righteous indignation over evil conservatives and the terrible Republican Party.
I guess it’s easy to attack those of us who support the war, or have family members serving in the military, or believe that the United States is the greatest country in the world, when a movie star can have her limo driver take her to her mansion where her staff of housekeepers and nannies is waiting for her. The cruel, bitter irony is that the lifestyle they are blessed with has been paid for by those same Americans she is ripping apart.
I have a suggestion for the University of Pennsylvania for next year’s commencement speaker. I hear Ronald McDonald is available. He’s ready to rise to the occasion and speak to the eager young students about the Ham Burglar and the secret sauce in a Big Mac. He’d make as much sense as Jodie Foster.