On December 21st, Jane Fonda turned eighty-two, and it might have been her best birthday yet. Since October, Fonda has been getting herself and her celebrity pals arrested as part of an ongoing campaign to raise awareness of climate change, through acts of civil disobedience. Last Friday, on the eve of her birthday, she vowed to mark her advancing age by bringing eighty-two people along to get arrested with her. In fact, she exceeded expectations, and a hundred and thirty-eight people were arrested in total.
The crowd on that Friday included Catherine Keener, Gloria Steinem, the labor leader Dolores Huerta, the labor activist Ai-jen Poo, the Buddhist teacher Roshi Joan Halifax, and several of Fonda’s relations by marriage and ex-marriage, including Laura Turner Seydel, a stepdaughter from Fonda’s marriage to Ted Turner, and Seydel’s mother-in-law, Pat Mitchell, who is herself an author and activist. Diane Lane, Sally Field, Sam Waterston, and Rosanna Arquette have all been arrested with Fonda. This Friday, Lily Tomlin, Fonda’s co-star on the Netflix comedy “Grace and Frankie,” was arrested without Fonda. (Fonda chose not to get arrested this week because her record of prior arrests, for which she has an upcoming court hearing, could have landed her thirty days in jail.)
It is easy to ridicule Hollywood celebrities when they dip into the political arena. Critics—not least of them the vituperator-in-chief—have accused Fonda of getting arrested as a publicity stunt. “She’s always got the handcuffs on. Oh, man, she’s waving to everybody with the handcuffs,” President Trump said last month, at a rally in Louisiana.