Lee Daniels’ new movie “The Butler,” telling the story of White House butler Eugene Allen and his 34 years of service under eight presidents between 1952 and 1986, is causing a stir in some circles because of the choice to cast Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan.
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A local Navy veteran, Larry Reyes of Canyon Country, has gained increasing support and national attention for his boycott of the film.
Reyes started the Facebook page “Boycott Hanoi Jane Playing Nancy Reagan” in March 2012. It started with a mere 400 likes, but has since grown to more than 22,700 likes.
“It’s not really about the movie itself,” Reyes said. “It’s more about her being cast in this movie.”
He said that someone with a history as “Hanoi Jane,” who called American troops “murderers” during the Vietnam War and was photographed sitting on “an anti-aircraft gun that was used to shoot down B-52s,” should not be playing the patriotic former First Lady Reagan.
Reyes grew up in a family with a strong military history and went on to join the United States Navy after high school. He served for 20 years, from 1981 to 2001.
He said that he grew up hearing about Fonda and what she had done during the Vietnam War.
“I’ve always had a silent boycott of her, whether it was a movie she was in or whatever, I just chose not to watch it or not to purchase anything that has to do with her,” Reyes said. “I know I wasn’t the only one that had done that. When she was recast again the in the 80s, it seemed that a lot of people had forgotten what she really did.”
But, “The Butler” was where Reyes drew the line.
Some commenters on the Facebook page have disagreed with Reyes’ position, claiming that Fonda’s actions more than 40 years ago should no longer be an issue, and that she has a right to free speech.
Reyes said that he feels Fonda demonstrated her lack of remorse for her actions by telling supporters of the boycott to “Get a life.”
“There’s 58,000 names on the Vietnam Memorial Wall that don’t have a life,” Reyes said. “And unfortunately, some of them died after they had heard her send her 19 propaganda messages to the troops out there, calling them liars and murderers.”
Reyes doesn’t expect to stop the movie, but he will be standing in front of Edwards Cinema in Canyon Country with a sign when the movie comes out on Friday, Aug. 16, and he hopes others will join him.
He said that supporters from many states, including Washington, New York, West Virginia, Florida and Texas plan to do the same.
And he said that his boycott has nothing to do with his own or Fonda’s political views.
There are other liberal actors playing conservative figures in the movie, but “none of them committed treason,” Reyes said.
“Some people have tried to make this an ultra conservative thing versus liberals or Republicans versus Democrats,” he said. “This isn’t a conservative thing… To me this is an American thing.”
For more information about “The Butler,” click here.
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