I really didn't think I could be that shocked by anything. When you see American elections disastrously botched, when transsexuals are relatively common on TV and when armed third graders are, like, so last season, it's hard to be surprised by much.
But my eyes got the size of a Power Puff Girl's when I read that Jane Fonda had become a Christian. That was like reading that the pope had become a dog. For openers, having married Ted Turner, Jane probably has more money than God. Why suck up to a deity you can outbid? Plus, she just doesn't seem like a joiner. Jane seems like she'd rather find a newer, faster, better God, start a hip religion and be on the cutting edge of yet another lifestyle.
After all, Jane Fonda reincarnated more often on this earthly plane than most of us could in a millennia of lifetimes. First she was sex kitten Barbarella. Without question one of the greatest kitsch flicks of all time, Barbarella finds Jane nearly getting eaten alive by parakeets, fighting evil intergalactic overlords and screwing everyone who asks. She was so sexy she makes today's starlets all look like little boys.
Then she pulled a major Sybil and became a political lefty, sticking up for the other side in the Vietnam war, posing for pictures with North Vietnamese soldiers and earning the nickname Hanoi Jane. People wanted Hanoi Jane strung up, and a lot of them still feel that way. She kept making great movies, won an Oscar and then developed another personality, this one in tights. "Jane Fonda's Workout" ignited the exercise-video industry. You have Jane to blame for there being a whole section of these tapes in video stores, by everyone from Linda Evans to Angela Lansbury.
And then came Ted. Holly-wood royalty marrying the guy who thought colorization was a neat idea was contradictory enough; then I seem to recall that at some point Jane came out with the admission that sometimes, to get what she wanted, she would cry.
Not that I care how Jane gets her way, but if all her personalities were still in there, it seems like Radical Jane and Leg-Warmer Jane would gang up on Wussy Jane and put her in an Atlanta hospital. Anyway, just when you thought all the money, honors and trippy endeavors would have been enough for her, she announced very recently that she had become a Christian. This new development caused trouble in their marriage, which recently broke up. Ted can at least be pleased with the fact that it took God to eventually best him in this category.
At any rate, it's very cool to watch a woman who is unafraid to go full bore into whatever strikes her fancy. The drive she has to relentlessly evolve, in spite of her critics or social convention, is inspiring.
But the most fun thing to do is wonder who she will be next. Possible headlines, circa 2011:
"The Tribe Has Spoken: Fonda wins 'Survivor XII.'"
"At 73, Fonda Pregnant With First Human Clone."
"Fonda's Televangelist Network Buys Disney, ABC, Microsoft: actress out-Swaggarts Swaggart in fire-and-brimstone preaching style."
"Fonda Organizes Colonization of Mars: Martha Stewart to decorate."
"Fonda Calls Pat Buchanan a Whiny Liberal, Wins Republican Presidential Nomination."
"Dalai Lama Dies: Jane Fonda discovered to be next incarnation of Buddha."
"Jane Fonda and Melissa Etheridge Unite in Georgia's First Lesbian Wedding."
"Fonda Secures Cosmetology License, Speaks Out Against Overpriced Beauty Industry From Work Station at Fantastic Sam's."
"Fonda: Aliens Made Me Exercise: actress says she was controlled by nose implant in the 1980s, apologizes for leg-warmer trend."
Fonda Wins Role of Clara in Atlanta Junior Dance Company Production of 'The Nutcracker.'"
"Jane Fonda-Heston New Head of NRA."
"Dr. Jane Fonda Cures Hoof-and-Mouth Disease: tells world it didn't need to eat all that meat anyway."
The only way Jane could surprise anyone now is to run out of surprises. I'm sure she'll change again, and as always, she'll do it like she means business. For now, it's nice to think about how in going from sexpot to radical to entrepreneur to power wife to Christian, Jane Fonda is a living example of the fact that the only constant is change. It takes some courage to dive headlong into your dream life, but if gazillionaire Hollywood royalty can do it, maybe anyone can. After all, as Barbarella said, standing there in a form-fitting vinyl outfit looking gorgeous after battling an evil alien empire, "I'm about average." I'd like to think she is.
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