Jane Fonda was looking pretty 'not guilty' back in 1970, if I may say so. But then, she was still two years away from her Hanoi Jane episode.
I don't know which part of Jane's QVC Cancelled My Appearance!! drama is stranger, the fact that the old leftie was trying to hawk her merchandise on the kitsch-kapitalism kable channel in the first place, or that she would be shocked when a popular backlash set in against her.
I was to have been on QVC today to introduce my book, “Prime Time,” about aging and the life cycle. The network said they got a lot of calls yesterday criticizing me for my opposition to the Vietnam War and threatening to boycott the show if I was allowed to appear. I am, to say the least, deeply disappointed that QVC caved to this kind of insane pressure by some well funded and organized political extremist groups. And that they did it without talking to me first. I have never shied away from talking about this as I have nothing to hide. I could have pointed out that threats of boycotts are nothing new for me and have never prevented me from having best selling books and exercise DVDs, films, and a Broadway play. Most people don’t buy into the far right lies. Many people have reached out to express how excited they were about my going onto QVC and hearing about my book.
Bottom line, this has gone on far too long, this spreading of lies about me! None of it is true. NONE OF IT! I love my country. I have never done anything to hurt my country or the men and women who have fought and continue to fight for us. I do not understand what the far right stands to gain by continuing with these myths. In this case, they denied a lot of people the chance to hear about a book that can help make life better, easier and more fulfilling. I am deeply grateful for all of the support I have been getting since this happened, including from my Vietnam Veterans friends.
No mysterious, well-funded, political extremist groups are necessary to explain why cable TV-watching Americans would react against Hanoi Jane 39 years later. And her 1972 sympathy tour/propaganda fest in the People's Republic of Vietnam was no myth, although, to be fair, there are a couple of urban legends about it.
The transcripts of Jane's interviews with Radio Hanoi indicate that she was just a common-variety New Left type, of which there were so many back then, and one who made up for her lack of ideological substance with an overabundance of emotion and enthusiasm. She gushed all over every North Vietnamese student, peasant and soldier she could find, while denouncing U.S. troops ("war criminals") and South Vietnamese soldiers ("cannon fodder for U.S. imperialism").
I think the really offensive thing about it all was the sappy look of adoration on her face when she visited an anti-aircraft gun location. She even posed for the camera wearing a helmet and squinting into the gun's sight as if she felt a vicarious thrill at the idea of shooting down one of those U.S. aircraft.
Those images permanently damaged Fonda's appeal to certain segments of the U.S. population, including, it seems, those who watch QVC. She and her business consultants ought to accept that fact, and confine their marketing efforts to those audiences that either don't know or don't care that she once played cheerleader for the North Vietnamese Army.