Demonstrations opposing American involvement in the Vietnam War began in 1964. Different people opposed the war for different reasons, of course, and expressed it in different ways. Some felt that, here in the US, we were being lied to about the war’s progress and actually flew over to Vietnam to witness things firsthand. In 1972, actress Jane Fonda became one of those people.
As Fonda was meeting with Vietnamese citizens and coming to the belief that they were people just like Americans, able to sing songs about love and happiness or pain and sorrow, she was coerced into sitting down in what turned out to be an anti-aircraft gun. A photo of this made it back to the States, and Fonda was pilloried for even feigning to shoot down American soldiers. The military in particular took great exception to the image, and she has faced near-unilateral revilement from them since. So much so that she is still harassed by soldiers in public, many of whom weren’t even born until years after the incident.
And while Fonda continued to have a successful acting career, going on to film classics like 9 to 5, On Golden Pond, and Coming Home—for which she won an Academy Award—there are many who absolutely refuse to accept any of the numerous apologies she’s offered over the decades and consequently will not sit through anything she’s associated with. My former father-in-law was a veteran and would launch into a rant about Fonda at the merest suggestion of her.
What’s interesting to me is that this sort of behavior is very similar to that of a fan, just directed with negative emotions instead of positive ones. Instead of praising her, they denigrate her. Instead of seeking out her movies, they actively avoid them. The mention of her lights a fire under both groups, but for one it’s a fire of passion and the other it’s a fire of hate. Not to mention the elements of tribalism in both cohorts; to be on the same team, you have to adopt many of the attitudes of the existing team members—which is how/why some soldiers born after 1972 despise her.
Love and hate have been described as opposite sides of the same coin. I think that holds true here. But the difference between those two emotions is that hate has a tendency to eat away at you over an extended period. The fire that fuels love is an energizing one, but the fire that fuels hate is a consuming one, and it can be very detrimental.
I’m not suggesting that everyone should love Jane Fonda and her work. (Or, for that matter, any celebrity or character or anything that might warrant a fandom!) I’m just saying that maybe the position of an anti-fan is perhaps not the best way to direct your energies, and you’re less likely to give yourself an ulcer if you focus on the things you are a fan of instead of the stuff you’re an anti-fan of.