Catching up with the selectively proud Hanoi Jane

That famous picture

Last year, as a service to young people who were born long after Jane Fonda (she’s an elderly movie actress, ICYDK) made a fool of herself in Vietnam, we revisited that reprehensible 1972 incident, when – in the midst of a proxy war between her own country and its totalitarian foes – she traveled to North Vietnam, chummed around with its soldiers, read their propaganda aloud on the radio for an audience of American servicemen, praised the murderous North Vietnamese dictator Ho Chi Minh, called U.S. troops war criminals, urged members of the U.S. Air Force to disobey orders, and (last but not least) had her picture taken on an anti-aircraft battery.

Fraternizing with the enemy

Fonda has claimed innumerable times that the last-named action, which earned her the nickname “Hanoi Jane,” was “a two-minute lapse of sanity that will haunt me forever.” But it was more than a matter of just two minutes. And it was no lapse. At the time of her visit, Fonda was already a dyed-in-the-wool antagonist of her own nation and an outspoken friend of totalitarian Communism. “If you understood what communism was,” she told an audience in 1970, “you would hope, you would pray on your knees that we would some day become communist.” In her extensive whitewash of the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong, Fonda lied about their brutal treatment of American POWs – and then, after those POWs returned home and called her a liar, she had the nerve to call them liars. In more recent years, she’s taken part in Communist-led rallies, shared stages with Saddam Hussein’s chum George Galloway, vilified Israel, and said that her “biggest regret” was that she “never got to fuck Che Guevara.”

With Ted Turner. Communism pays off!

As we pointed out last year, authors Henry Mark Holzer and Erika Holzer published a whole book in 2002 in which they showed that Fonda’s actions in Vietnam amounted to treason. In Fonda’s own 2005 memoir she rewrote the whole episode, depicting herself as a tribune of peace rather than a Communist traitor. Of course, she’s a Communist traitor with a difference: for ten years, she was married to CNN honcho Ted Turner, one of the most powerful men in America as well as America’s largest private landowner. So she’s not just a world-class Communist; she’s a world-class Communist hypocrite.

Giving Megyn Kelly the evil eye earlier this month, in response to a question about plastic surgery

Since we dropped in on Hanoi Jane last year, she’s been in the news several times. At the Emmy Awards, on September 17, she and Lily Tomlin, with whom she appears in a Netflix series, Grace and Frankie, joined in calling President Trump “a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot.” (Their 9 to 5 co-star Dolly Parton, standing onstage between them, looked distinctly uncomfortable.) But that was relatively nothing. Later Fonda made headlines when, on The Today Show, Megyn Kelly dared to ask her about plastic surgery. Well, Fonda may believe in Communism, but it’s clear she also believes that the entertainment-media serfs shouldn’t dare pose certain questions to cinema royalty such as herself. She shot Kelly a look that could kill.

Tomlin, Dolly Parton, and Fonda at the 2017 Emmys

But let’s set that aside too, and move on to earlier this month, when she sat down for an interview with the BBC. Asked whether she was “proud of America today,” she replied with a quick, firm “no.” But, she added, “I’m proud of the resistance. I’m proud of the people who are turning out in unprecedented numbers and continue over and over and over again to protest what Trump is doing.” The topic of Vietnam came up – and again the lies came out. Rejecting the idea that she had been “siding with the enemy,” she claimed that after being photographed on that anti-aircraft battery, she’d thought: “Oh my gosh. It’s going to look like I am against my own country’s soldiers and siding with the enemy, which is the last thing in the world that was true.” Fonda is 79 now; presumably she will continue to promote this lie until she dies.

Still fabulous. And still dishonest!

But that wasn’t all. She actually tried to sell the idea that her trip had helped save “two million people who could have died of famine and drowning.” We don’t remember hearing her make this claim before. Fonda still looks fabulous, but perhaps the years are taking their toll on the old noggin. Or maybe it’s just another example of Celebrity Narcissism Syndrome, the symptoms of which do tend to intensify as time goes by. In any case, here’s her logic: “The United States was bombing the dikes in North Vietnam….If the dikes had given way, according to Henry Kissinger, somewhere around 2 million people could have died of famine and drowning. And we were bombing, and it wasn’t being talked about. And I thought, ‘Well, I’m a celebrity. Maybe if I go, and I bring back evidence.’ And it did stop two months after I got back, so I’m proud that I went.”

Another recent glamour shot

As far as we can tell, there aren’t any serious historians who feel that Fonda had anything to do with an end to the U.S. bombings. On the other hand, her visit didn’t exactly enhance American morale, and it could be that, in the long term, Fonda’s PR job for the enemy helped tip the balance toward ultimate U.S. withdrawal. But if you’re going to make that argument, you’re going to have to give Fonda a share of the responsibility for the fact that after the U.S. pulled out of Indochina, the Viet Cong murdered tens of thousands of South Vietnamese and the Khmer Rouge exterminated 1.5 to three million Cambodians. Are you proud of that, Jane?

Putin’s Dutch rapper

Today, October 7, Vladimir Putin celebrates his sixty-third birthday. To commemorate this occasion, we’re spending a few days here at Useful Stooges looking at Putin – and at a few of his benighted fans around the world. Today: a hip-hop star from Amsterdam.

Lil-Kleine
Lil’ Kleine

He won’t turn 21 until later this month, but he’s already become a household name in his native country and raked in a boatload of dough. He’s a Dutch lad who was born Jorik Scholten but who is known professionally as Lil’ Kleine. He’s been acting for ten years; now he’s also a top-flight rapper. He and his musical partner, a 23-year-old who calls himself Ronnie Flex, were responsible for this summer’s #1 hit in the Netherlands, a tribute to booze, narcotics, and hook-up sex entitled “Drank & drugs.” The tune is of zero musical value; the lyrics are witless, reflecting the mentality not of two twenty-somethings but of a couple of rather dim, immature 12-year-olds. Here’s a rough translation of the refrain

If you want to chill, bitch, no problem, I’ll go there

I’m not coming alone, because I’ve got booze and drugs

I’ve got booze and drugs

On August 23, the song went triple platinum. As of the morning of August 30, the startlingly puerile and amateurish-looking You Tube video had racked up 15,726,795 views.

The population of the Netherlands is 16.8 million.

In August, Lil’ Kleine sat for an interview with the daily Het Parool. He talked about a number of subjects: his childhood in Amsterdam’s Red Light District, where he became accustomed to the sight of junkies shooting up and prostitutes plying their wares; his teenage years in another Amsterdam neighborhood, the Jordaan, where he and his brother lived in a one-parent home, his mother having taken off and left them in their father’s care; his early professional ambitions and activities (he trained to be a plumber and worked for a time as a carpenter); accusations that “Drank & drugs,” which includes the line “all the teenagers are saying yes to MDMA” (i.e. ecstasy) encourages kids to take MDMA (he denies the charge, but says that if you’re twenty or so and have your act together, MDMA “will definitely be fun”); Justin Bieber, whose ability to churn out hits he admires (“I could see myself chillin’ with Bieber”); gays (when he was little he found them icky, but now he has plenty of gay friends); money (“getting rich is now simply the most important thing in my life”); and, oh yes, Vladimir Putin.

putin23For Lil’ Kleine, it appears, is a big fan of Putin’s. He doesn’t really know very much about Putin, but then again he’s honest about the reason for this ignorance: “I have no time to follow the news because I’m far too busy with myself.” Still, he feels confident about his esteem for the Russian president: “Everybody always says, like, Putin is so bad and this and that, but I admire him. He defends his country and stands up for his people.” And he takes on “everybody in Europe and America” by “giving them the finger.” Lil’ Kleine likes that. He’d rather have a drink with Putin, he says, than with Obama.

Details from Lil’ Kleine’s interview spread rapidly. Dutch pop-culture websites and social media were saturated with choice tidbits from Het Parool. A few people tut-tutted over Lil’ Kleine’s remarks about Putin. But the overwhelming majority of those who summed up and shared and quoted from and linked to his interview were plainly just excited to discover all this new personal information about their hero.

lil_ronn2
With Ronnie Flex

Now, why should any of us non-Lil’ Kleine fans care what he thinks? Because countless young people do. Around the Western world, the opinions of chart-toppers like him are saturating the new media and shaping the minds of innumerable young people who (a) are highly impressionable and (b) know next to nothing about the world. As a result, Lil’ Kleine and his counterparts in other countries are immeasurably more influential than any professional political commentator.

lil_ronnThink about it: on any given evening in the United States, the population of which is about 20 times that of the Netherlands, no political commentator – not Bill O’Reilly, not Rachel Maddow, not Megyn Kelly – gets a fraction of the number of viewers that “Drank & drugs” has gotten. On Sundays, Meet the Press is lucky to reach 3 million people. Lil’ Kleine’s comments about Putin may well have been retweeted more times in the course of a few days than anything anybody else has said or written about Putin in a long time.  

The truth is simple – and bleak: in the Western world today, callow stars like Lil’ Kleine steer the culture. They can endorse any product and it’ll fly off the shelves. They can put their names on a perfume and it’ll sell like hot cakes. In 2008, young Americans thought Barack Obama was the coolest guy on the planet, largely because their showbiz idols told them so. Their vote helped get Obama elected.

(FILES) A file picture taken on July 20,
Members of Pussy Riot behind bars (not the same kind of bar Lil’ Kleine wants to visit with Putin)

But seven years is a long time in youth culture. Now, Lil’ Kleine says that he’d rather go out for a drink with Putin than with Obama. His gay friends, if they’re better informed about Putin’s policies than Lil’ Kleine appears to be, might not want to join that pub crawl. And Lil’ Kleine himself might change his mind about Putin if he learned a little bit more. (We wonder if he’s ever heard of Pussy Riot.) Who knows? If he found out enough, he might even awaken to the realization that he himself is a poster boy for precisely the kind of Western, American-influenced cultural product that Putin considers emblematic of the decay of civilization and thus feels justified in punishing to the fullest extent of whatever law he feels like putting on the books.

But in the meantime, Lil’ Kleine has sent out the word that Putin is cool. And for hundreds of thousands of young Dutch people who know no more about Putin than he does, his thumbs-up makes – like it or not – a great deal of difference.