A brief love note to Jodie Foster

You know how when people ask you who your favourite bands are, you always have a few reliable answers ready to go ("Oh, the Stones, Black Sabbath, probably Beck") and they're definitely favourites, but you somehow always neglect to note the ones that really mean everything to you (Blur)? 

Maybe it's because it's too personal, or you love them on some deep level that means they're not handily brought to mind when it's time to tally the favourites. 

Okay, maybe the band thing is an inelegant analogy, but when it comes to film and acting, that's always the predicament I find myself in with Jodie Foster. 

There are other actors whose films I watch more often, or who spend more time in the spotlight and are therefore more readily recalled when someone asks whose work I like. But when it comes down to it, it's Foster who is my true actorly love. 

And no, I don't mean that in a Jose Canseco way: 

Most of this affection is due to her exquisite performance in Contact - one of the truly great feminist adventure films (Jodie and Angela Bishop battle entrenched sexism in academia and politics, while Tom Skerritt plays the ultimate misogynist villain and pays the delicious, explosives-laden price for trying to stop that One Great Step For Womankind). 

Her performance as scientist Ellie Arroway always reminded me so much of myself: smart and talented (at least on other people's terms; I'm not sure that Ellie, or I, ever quite believed we were "gifted" and instead just got on with the job) but almost incapable of human interaction. 

So you can imagine the puddle I became last night when, accepting her Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award, she invoked that film's "OK to go" in her acceptance speech when referring to her ailing mother: 

I especially love that after 38 years in the game - THIRTY EIGHT - Foster is still the same vaguely daffy, smart yet dorky person she has always been. In a way, despite obvious differences in the sexual preference department, Ellie Arroway seems to be the closest she's come to playing herself onscreen. 

If last night and last year's Golden Globes audience camera throws are anything to go by, her two sons seem to have inherited their mother's persona, too: 

Naturally the response to Foster's speech has ranged from the nonsensical (Canseco's tweet, her pal Mel Gibson's "listening mouth") to the inane (whining about whether or not she came out to sufficiently please those who consider Coming Out any LGBT celebrity's #1 duty), but the most infuriating has been the hoary old "she can't want privacy and be an actor" brigade. 

Here's a prime example from noted bilge-artist Bret Easton Ellis, last seen challenging Angelyne for the Lifetime Achievement in Self-Promotion title as he desperately courts whatever attention he could muster for his Z-grade "movie" The Canyons

Call me old fashioned, but I think a woman who was stalked - in her teens - by a man who attempted to assassinate the President of the United States because he thought it might get her attention is uniquely placed to discuss the lunacy of celebrity culture and the society of the spectacle. 

Instead, I think fellow Globe-winner Lena Dunham summed it up well backstage: "I think that one of the most wonderful things about the speech that Miss Foster just gave was that it was really a complex, interesting assessment of what it's like to have a creative career over a long period of time. She wasn't trying to hand you one moral."

And the great thing about this golden-tinged reminder is that next time someone asks who my favourite actress is, I'll be sure to answer "Jodie Foster". 

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2 comments so far..

  • ebbed's avatar
    Date and time
    Tuesday 15 Jan 2013 - 5:05 PM
    Love the point about being stalked in her teens by a guy that tried to assassinate the President as giving a unique perspective on the society of the spectacle - imagine that as a case study!!
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  • Aerialgrrrl's avatar
    Date and time
    Tuesday 15 Jan 2013 - 5:17 PM
    But why is she friends with Mel Gibson? That I don't get.
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