The annual American ritual of graduation ceremonies is upon us. In fact, as I write this, I’m aboard a train to Philadelphia where my wife and I will proudly watch our son Matthew graduate from Temple University. We are bursting with pride for our son, who now wants to strike out into the world as a talent or sports agent, and eagerly anticipate the commencement ceremony.
But if some America-hating, Bush-bashing, Al Gore-loving movie star takes to the stage to rail against anything conservative or Republican, I think I’m going to demand at least a partial refund of all that tuition money we’ve spent on our son’s education.
Don’t University of Pennsylvania officials take their students’ graduation ceremony seriously? Do they really believe that the Penn Class of ’06 cares about the rantings of a pampered movie star as the seniors prepare to send out resumes’ and go out on job interviews?
I’m told the students gave Foster a standing ovation. Big deal. College kids would give a standing ovation to Bart Simpson if he spoke to a graduating class. But maybe a college or university would want to consider someone who could actually enlighten tomorrow’s leaders, not browbeat them into liberal submission.
Besides slamming the general state of the nation, Miss Foster also graciously offered up her views on the country’s “miserable” response to Katrina and the way we have allegedly squandered the world’s goodwill since we went to war. Some commencement address. Perhaps for an encore, she can hand out pieces of rope to each of the students so they can form a noose and hang themselves from the rafters of the auditorium since we’re such a crummy, hopeless bully of a country.
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.