I could scarcely believe my eyes when I gazed at the Amazon best-sellers list earlier this week to find the No. 1 book in the world was by Jane Fonda.
And what was it about?
Was it about her early Barbarella years in Hollywood?
Wash it about growing up in a legendary Hollywood family?
Was it about her political radicalization that led her, ultimately, to pose atop a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun giddily imagining herself shooting down a U.S. military plane?
Was it about her marriages to French filmmaker Roger Vadim, radical leftist Tom Hayden and media titan Ted Turner?
With the release of “Being a Teen,” Jane Fonda has reinvented herself again – this time at 76 and as an expert on teen relationships, sex, love, health and identity.
I guess anyone can be an expert on being a teen. Everyone past the age of 19 has done it. And if you’ve raised kids past that age, that adds to the resume.
But I couldn’t help but think it’s been 30 years since Jane Fonda helped raise her last child, an adoptive daughter who was the biological child of Black Panther leaders.
It had been even longer since her son with Tom Hayden, Troy, was a teen – the one named after a famous North Vietnamese Communist leader.
So what is Jane Fonda doing writing about teens?
I have no idea. But suffice it to say I won’t be reading it for tips on raising my last of five teens.
And what do I care about it?
Funny you should ask.
My life and Jane Fonda’s have intersected several times.
It’s always a jaw-dropping conversation starter when I tell people I once served as Jane Fonda’s bodyguard.
When I was a 19-year-old college student, I was involved in the planning of a speaking tour of what was euphemistically called the “Indochina Peace Campaign” by Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden. I was selected to shadow her on her New York area appearances and look sinister. Thank goodness there were no security breaches.
Back then I believed in what Fonda was doing. It was never about “peace,” though. It was about victory for the Communist regime in North Vietnam against the people of South Vietnam and the U.S. military. That’s what Hayden and Fonda wanted, and, sad to say, it was what I thought I wanted, too.
When we got our wish, the result was a massacre of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese. More were turned into refugees, braving shark-infested waters on shaky boats to make their escape. I was sickened by being a part of the movement that brought about this slaughter. Jane Fonda wasn’t – and apparently still isn’t.
But that’s only the beginning of the story of my one degree of separation with Jane Fonda.
I did my penance over the next 10 years, chronicling Fonda’s work in California with Hayden. Fonda took notice. On more than one occasion, her manager-publicist called me and tried to persuade me Fonda was really a great person. If I only got to know Fonda better, he explained, it would change my view.
Fonda was charming, of course. She had the charisma of a movie star. But she was still promoting bad causes and bad ideas.
And, evidently, she still is – now for teens.
She says for instance: “Abstaining from sexual intercourse when you are young is the best way to reduce your risk of pregnancy and infection – of course!” But it’s not just the best way to reduce your risk of pregnancy and infection. It’s the best and only way for youngsters to protect their innocence, their virtue and their emotional well-being.
Here’s my advice to teens and everyone else: Don’t listen to Jane Fonda. She’s never been right about anything. Not once – in 76 years!
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