Did She or Didn't She?

Did Jodie Foster come out of the closet at an industry breakfast on December 4? The media seems to think so.

BY Christopher Lisotta

December 19 2007 1:00 AM ET

Actress and
producer Jodie Foster was just making a thank-you speech,
right? Depends on who's doing the reporting.

On December 4 the
two-time Academy Award winner accepted the Sherry
Lansing Leadership Award at the annual Women in
Entertainment Power 100 breakfast in Beverly Hills.
Foster attending this kind of industry event is hardly
news outside Hollywood, but her acceptance speech garnered
global headlines when she thanked “my beautiful
Cydney,” apparently referring to Cydney
Bernard, the woman long assumed to be her partner.

Foster recognized
her agent, publicists, lawyer, and mother before
thanking Bernard, “who sticks with me through the
rotten and the bliss,” she said.

The film and
television website IMDB.com lists Bernard as a production
coordinator, manager, or supervisor on a half-dozen
films and television movies—including the 1993
feature Sommersby, which starred Foster. Both of
Foster’s children, Charles and Kit, have the middle
name Bernard.

Foster's December
4 comments set off a rash of media coverage, with
publications from South Africa to New Zealand reporting the
words, but with widely varying interpretations of what
they meant. The U.K.-based website Fametastic saw the
statement as a sign that Foster “may be set to
publicly confirm her relationship.” Other
publications went further, with The Philadelphia Daily News declaring on December
15 that Foster “has officially announced she's
gay.” The British tabloid Daily Mail
reported on December 12 that Foster “has
finally come out as a lesbian.” The Daily Mail
also ran a photo of Foster and Bernard taken at the
German premiere of her 2005 feature film Flightplan.

The coverage was
not just in print. Cabler CNN added a video clip to its
website on December 13 titled “Jodie Foster thanks
gay partner” where celebrity columnist Kiki
King said in an interview with one of the
network’s anchors “of course she’s been
with Cydney Bernard for over 14 years now, and she has
two sons, presumably with Cydney playing a sort of
parental role in that relationship, as well.”

Robert Thompson,
a professor at the Bleier Center for Television and
Popular Culture at Syracuse University, said the reaction
shows an evolution in the way media interprets
comments by individuals that merely indicate
sexuality.

“Once upon
a time a comment like that would have gotten absolutely no
remark, because so much of that stuff wasn’t being
reported,” Thompson said. “It was so
submerged. Now it’s gone in a completely different
direction. I suppose what it still continues to indicate is,
we are still obsessed by people’s sexuality,
and [by] naming and reading all the clues.

Tags: Media

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