Last weekend, I found myself deeply engrossed in the latest HBO documentary, "Jane Fonda In Five Acts." From next door French neighbor to a worldwide activist, Fonda leads the forefront of political change for women's equality and the fight against sexism, ageism, and racism.
Jane Fonda began her active career as a movie star, filming with the celestial Roger Vadim in France for her upcoming hit, "Barbarella." At the time, the US was just beginning to become involved in the Cold War, sending troops into proxy locations in Vietnam. Patriotism and nationalism flourished back at home as people rallied for more military involvement or complete withdrawal, and these rallies were the sparks to Fonda's social career.
Fonda was dubbed "Hanoi Jane" during this time period as she visited Vietnam to see the state of being of the farmers and civilians in the areas of warfare; however, while her journalist coverage incited some responses, her play with the media created the greatest effects. Photography, radio broadcasts, and raw film became weapons of communication, which provided the general public with vital overseas information or other announcements. Through TV coverage, Fonda protests using pity for the lives of all the farmers who would be swept away if the US continued with their plan to bomb the dikes that blocked the floodwaters when monsoon season arrives. If they were to be destroyed, everything would be flooded. Photos of farmers, children, and women spread to evoke sympathy from the Americans; however, when an image of Fonda sitting being an enemy tank surfaced, backlash was horrid. The media garnered both negative and positive attention to the issue. She was placed on trial but plead not guilty.
The media not only served as a catalyst for change but also a useful outlet for expression. While this technique either divides or unified people in common interest, it most importantly incites necessary discussion, which ultimately leads to action. As hundreds of different opinions bombard an issue from a multitude of sides, the plethora of arguments helps people analyze issues from a different perspective and thus informs the general public.
Fonda also experimented with filmography to spread messages. Her hit film, "9 to 5", protests against a sexist corporate economy dominated by white, wealthy males while women continued to labor at a lower pay. From there, women's equality became a pivotal movement. In the movie, "On Golden Pond," she stresses the importance of family relationships and focuses on how love and security is masked by the greedy desires of society. Even today, Fonda stars with Lily Tomlin in the Netflix series, "Grace and Frankie" that fights ageism by portraying older women as powerful and beautiful regardless of their age and sex. She ties together problems about gun control, legalization of marijuana and LGBTQ communities through comedic and well-filmed show that draws in audiences of all ages, a stroke of genius only a robust media could have offered.