I watched the Golden Globes because that’s what I do. I wanted to see if Daniel Day Lewis would win for Lincoln, I wanted to see if how many awards Les Mis would win. (Frankly, Lewis made me go to the public library for My Left Foot, Gangs of New York, and There Will Be Blood. I won’t be watching any musicals anytime soon, as I walked out of the Hugh Jackman/Anne Hathaway spectacular after forty minutes.) But I never expected to see Jodie Foster leave it all out there in the open.
After a few minutes of banter, Foster got to it: “But seriously, if you had been a public figure from the time that you were a toddler, if you’d had to fight for a life that felt real and honest and normal against all odds, then maybe you too might value privacy above all else. Privacy. Some day, in the future, people will look back and remember how beautiful it once was. I have given everything up there from the time that I was three years old.”
Foster came across as defiant, and brutal. I initially compared it to the speech that Michael Jordan gave on entering the Basketball Hall of Fame, but that was wrong (Jordan invited people who he felt had slighted them and tore them down, Foster merely admitted to a deep-seated pain.) Foster referenced her singleness, having separated from her children’s father and her gay partner. Her brokenness was shining through.
Foster publicly told her estranged mother that she loved her, and hoped that if the words would “magically and perfectly enter into your soul, fill you with grace and the joy of knowing that you did good in this life. You’re a great mom. Please take that with you when you’re finally OK to go.” The pain in her eyes bled through, but it was nothing compared to her big finale.
“Change, you gotta love it. I will continue to tell stories, to move people by being moved, the greatest job in the world. It’s just that from now on, I may be holding a different talking stick. And maybe it won’t be as sparkly, maybe it won’t open on 3,000 screens, maybe it will be so quiet and delicate that only dogs can hear it whistle. But it will be my writing on the wall. Jodie Foster was here, I still am, and I want to be seen, to be understood deeply and to be not so very lonely.”
Whatever you think about her decisions and choices, this was one giant cry for help, wasn’t it? Living a life in Hollywood has obviously taken its toll: what would you expect when you’re fifty and you’ve lived in the spotlight for forty-seven years? What would you expect after two serious relationships ended in pain and separation? How could we not recognize that for all of the sparkly awards, for all the applause, that Foster still lacked the things she wanted: peace, joy, and friendship.
Reading the speech again days later, I’m reminded of the times I’ve failed to acknowledge the pain I’ve caused or the hurt in someone else’s life, when I could’ve noticed them, acknowledged them, and, just momentarily, provided them a reminder that they are loved by the God of the universe. There is a solution to the problems of fame, fortune, isolation, and pain– it’s the eternal love of God and the promise that our lives have purpose.