Sunday, April 06, 2008

In Justice

(Image Credit: U.S. Department of Justice Performance Work Plan and Appraisal Record of Leslie Hagen, via National Public Radio)

Another in Our Ongoing Series of Letters to Actress and Kinda/Sorta But Not Quite Out Lesbian Jodie Foster:

Dear Ms. Foster,

Me again -- Your favorite dog blogger on the subjects of politics, pop culture, and basketball, with occasional forays into sexuality and cinema. Hope you're doing well. Congrats on the opening of Nim's Island, which my Aunt Katie saw this morning and thoroughly enjoyed. We hope it does better than The Brave One did for you. We are really thinking you should steer clear of the whole gun-toting vigilante thing. It just doesn't suit your fundamentally thoughtful, conscientious nature. We realize the death of Charlton Heston leaves a void in the universe of Hollywood gun-nuts, but we don't think you're the person to fill it.

Which brings us to the point of this letter: Your next project. We think we've found it, and we hope you'll bear with an old dog as she pitches an idea to a mega-star. We don't know if you happened to be tuned into NPR the other day when they aired a story by Ari Shapiro on the dismissal of attorney Leslie Hagen from a contract position as liaison between the Justice Department and the U.S. attorneys' committee on Native American issues, despite receiving the highest possible ratings for her work. The Justice Department's inspector general is now investigating whether Hagen was let go because of rumors that she is a lesbian. The award-winning federal prosecutor from Michigan was told in October 2006 that her contract would not be renewed (though she and her supervisors wanted it to be). Monica Goodling, senior counsel to former Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez who resigned from the Justice Department after acknowledging she had engaged in personnel actions that were inappropriately politicized, was involved in the Hagen case. Hagen's former associates -- one of whom described her as "the best qualified person in the nation" to hold the position she had at Justice -- told NPR that she was dismissed after a rumor reached Goodling that she is a lesbian:

As one Republican source put it, "To some people, that's even worse than being a Democrat."

Several people interviewed by the inspector general's staff said investigators asked whether people drew a connection between the rumors and Hagen's dismissal. The witnesses, who spoke to NPR on the condition of anonymity, said they felt that the rumors led to the decision not to renew Hagen's contract.

Someone who worked in Hagen's office says that in a 2006 meeting, senior officials were told that Hagen's contract would not be renewed because someone on the attorney general's staff had a problem with Hagen. The problem, it was suggested during the conversation, was sexual orientation — or what was rumored to be Hagen's sexual orientation.

One person at the meeting asked, "Is that really an issue?" But the decision had been made.

Here's the part that makes this story such an ideal vehicle for you, Ms. Foster: Leslie Hagen, in addition to being an exemplary employee, was also a loyal Republican and a private person who did not discuss her personal life. She was a good girl, Ms. Foster, a team player, and a discreet individual who kept her professional and personal lives completely separate. Indeed, she is so private that an exhaustive, 4-minute Google image search turned up not a single photograph of Hagen! She was let go simply because the morally/politically zealous Goodling thought she caught a whiff of the Sapphic about her. Today, Goodling is out of the Justice Department, and Hagen is back, working another contract job in the Office of Justice Programs. According to NPR, "People who know her say she feels hurt by what she's been through, and that she just wants to focus on her work." The incident hasn't gotten a lot of attention until the NPR story last week. Now, Senators Patrick Leahy and Arlen Specter are looking into the matter.

Imagine what you could do with this story, Ms. Foster -- the keep-your-head-down, play-by-the-rules career attorney versus the arrogant political hack who bends the rules toward her own self-righteous ends. We would call it In Justice (get it?). We see Gwyneth Paltrow in the role of Monica Goodling (though that's better than Goodling deserves) and relish the thought of the two of you facing off in one of those classic Washington scenes -- the encounter in the restaurant or the parking garage, the dueling news conferences, you staring fearlessly into the lenses of a thousand cameras quietly declaring, "I just wanted to do my job," while a teary Goodling breaks down and says, "I owe Ms. Hagen and the nation an apology." It's a wonderful opportunity for you to play a dyke and meditate on the complex issues of public and private, professional and personal that have been such fascinating aspects of your story, identity, and persona for so many years. It's a way to come out while raising questions about why our stories and our politics are so obsessively invested in uncovering the "truth" about sex and sexuality.

This is the film you were born to make, Ms. Foster -- and Roxie's World is happy to help you make it. We'll write the screenplay, as long as you promise to let us introduce a couple of cute dogs and maybe two or three references to queer theory -- the easy stuff, we promise, nothing you'd need a degree in French lit from Yale to understand. Call us, will you? My people are standing by, waiting to hear from your people.

Yours sincerely,

(Photo Credits: Monica Goodling by Mark Wilson, via NPR; Gwyneth Paltrow via random search of internets on "Gwyneth Paltrow")

(With thanks again to the Shy One, who is getting really good at sniffing out stories for Roxie's World.)

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:02 PM EDT

    Another great post, Roxie! I like the idea of Paltrow as Goodling. But you definitely need to get some dogs in the script. She needs something to pet besides that strange globby looking thing that seems to be sitting on her lap where any sensible person would have a beagle or something.


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