Jane Fonda

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

What was the accusation?

In 1972, Hollywood actress and political activist Jane Fonda visited North Vietnam (which, at the time, was enemy territory) during the height of the Vietnam War. A photo depicting her amid North Vietnamese soldiers and artillery sparked enormous controversy back in the United States that has long survived the war. Through the years, Fonda (nicknamed “Hanoi Jane” by critics) has apologized extensively (both privately and publicly) for the photo and what it seemed to convey (i.e., anti-troop sentiment). In 2012, she appeared in an episode of “Oprah’s Master Class,” expressing further remorse for the image and offering an explanation for it. Later, in 2015, Fonda reemphasized her regret for how she was portrayed in the photo, referring to her participation in it as a “huge, huge mistake.”  

Key Apologia Strategies:

Mortification, Defeasibility, Bolstering, Corrective Action




“I made one unforgivable mistake when I was in North Vietnam, and I will go to my grave with this. On my last day, I was taken to a military site. It’s not something I wanted to do. I was an emotional wreck by now. I don’t know if I was set up or not. I was an adult. I take responsibility for my actions. There was this little ceremony. These soldiers sang a song. I sang a song in a feeble Vietnamese. Everyone was laughing. I was led to a gun site, and I sat down. And I was laughing and clapping, and there were pictures taken. And as I walked away, I suddenly thought, ˜Oh my gosh! This is going to look like I was shooting.” I mean, there were no planes. The gun was not operable. It didn’t matter. This is an image that belied everything that I was. I was in Vietnam. I was against the war because of what I had learned from soldiers. I’d spent three years working with active-duty servicemen. And I understand the anger about that. And, by the way, I have apologized for that photograph over and over and over again, privately and publicly, and I’m doing it again now. Years later, when I was in Waterbury, Connecticut, I was making a film, Stanley & Iris. I had my PR person there. I asked him to try to organize a meeting of Vietnam veterans just Vietnam veterans, in the basement of a church. And there were about 40 of them that came. And I came in alone. And I suggested that we go around in a circle and we all tell our stories, and we did. Some of them were they had hats that said traitor. There was one who later said to me, ˜I came with he was it was the Delta Death Squad, and he had an ace of spades, and that was the card that would be thrown when he was going to kill someone, and he brought it with him, and he was intending to challenge me and throw it at my feet There was a lot of hostility a lot of tears from all of us. It lasted many hours. When it was over, my PR person came in and said, ˜I don’t know who told the press. It wasn’t me. [It certainly wasn’t me.] But there are some press people outside. What do you want to do?’ And I said to the men, ˜What do you want to do? I’ll do whatever you want. We can all go out the back. Whatever.’ And they said, ˜Let ’em in.’ It’s not what the press expected. I don’t mean that every single man there suddenly was fond of Fonda, but there was a lot of healing, a lot of healing. The guy with the ace of spades ended up tearing it up and throwing it in the trash, and he’s remained my friend, and we’ve talked a lot about this event. And what I learned: we have to listen to each other. Even when we don’t agree, even when we think we hate each other, we have to listen to each other’s narratives. Not interrupt defensively or with hostility, but really try to open our hearts and listen with empathy. I learned so much from that meeting. It was a very difficult thing to do, and it was one of the best things that I ever, that I ever did in my life. Look what scares you in the face and try to understand it. Empathy, I have learned, is revolutionary.”         


Beaumont-Thomas, B. (2015, January 20). Jane Fonda: Hanoi Jane photo was a ˜huge mistake.’ The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/jan/20/jane-fonda-hanoi-jane-photo-was-a-huge-mistake

Jane Fonda calls Vietnam photo ‘an unforgivable mistake’ (VIDEO). (2013, April 2). The Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/02/jane-fonda-vietnam-photo-oprah_n_2994929.html

Jane Fonda regrets Vietnam photo: “It was a huge, huge mistake.” (2015, January 19). The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved from http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/jane-fonda-regrets-vietnam-photo-764710

Robinson, J. (2015, January 19). Jane Fonda says she regrets “Hanoi Jane.” Vanity Fair. Retrieved from http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2015/01/jane-fonda-regrets-hanoi-jane

Wagner, M. (2015, January 19). ˜I made a huge, huge mistake’: Hanoi Jane’ Fonda says she regrets anti-troop image, but not North Vietnam trip. Daily News. Retrieved from http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/gossip/jane-fonda-regrets-anti-troop-image-made-huge-mistake-article-1.2083885