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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Jodie Foster to Address Skeptical Penn Grads
She's an Oscar winner and a Yale grad -- "an artist with a vision who has always used her art to explore weighty social themes," said Penn President Amy Gutmann. But the choice of Jodie Foster as commencement speaker has also provoked some second-guessing, according to an article in the Daily Pennsylvanian, Penn's student newspaper. Senior class president Pierre Gooding expressed being "disappointed with the selection in terms of the excellence of past speakers and the magnitude of the 250th Commencement." "It would've been nice to have an alumni speak" for the occasion, Wharton senior Naomi Adaniya said. "She wouldn't be near the top 100 of the people I would have on my list," senior Samantha Berman also told the paper. Last year, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan was also a controversial choice, because of the Iraq food-for-oil scandal. Other speakers: Bono, Desmond Tutu, Jimmy Carter, John McCain. A factor cited in the choice of Foster: her gender. The last female commencement speaker was National Endowment for the Arts chair Jane Alexander in 1995. (Hillary Clinton spoke in 1993.) Gutmann said she hopes Foster will inspire students. Certainly, she's been a success and a champion against abuse of women, but a cynic might wonder if she favors films that paint men as merciless monsters. Think The Accused, Silence of the Lambs, Panic Room, and her latest, Flightplan (pictured). Then again, that's true of a lot of Hollywood productions.


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