Writing Letters to Jodie Foster

LUKE: You know what people told me when I said you were coming here to live with me? They told me I was crazy, they told me I was insane, they told me to start writing letters to Jodie Foster.

Luke references John Hinckley Jr. (born 1955), a college drop-out from a wealthy family who attempted to assassinate president Ronald Reagan. Hinckley was reportedly seeking fame in a misguided effort to impress actress Jodie Foster (born Alicia Foster in 1962), with whom he had been obsessed since the 1976 film Taxi Driver, where Foster plays a sexually-trafficked twelve-year-old child – in the film, the disturbed protagonist plots to assassinate a presidential candidate (it’s based on a true story).

When Jodie Foster began attending Yale University, Hinckley moved to New Haven in order to stalk her, sending her dozens of letters and poems, and leaving messages on her answering machine. Believing that assassinating the president would somehow make him Foster’s equal, Hinckley fired a revolver six times at Ronald Reagan on March 30 1981, as he left the Hilton Hotel in Washington DC. Although Hinckley did not hit Reagan, he was wounded when a bullet ricocheted and hit him in the chest. He also wounded a police officer and a Secret Service agent, and critically injured a press secretary, who died from his wounds in 2014.

John Hinckley Jr. was found not guilty by reason of insanity in 1982, and transferred to psychiatric care. He was released from hospital in 2016 into his mother’s care under numerous restrictions. As of June 2022, Hinckley will be living freely in the community. He has a YouTube channel, where he self-publishes his own songs; they are also available on Spotify and other streaming sites.

“I have lost. Mr Nixon has won”

PARIS: How’s this sound for a template? I have done my best. I have lost. Mr. Nixon has won. The democratic process has worked its will, so now let’s get on with the urgent task of uniting this country … Hubert Humphrey’s concession speech. Now, other than the part about Nixon, parts of it really seem to apply here.

Paris refers to Hubert Humphrey’s concession speech on 6 November 1968, acknowledging that Richard Nixon had been successful in his bid to become President of the United States by a narrow margin. It ended: “I have done my best. I have lost. Mr. Nixon has won. The democratic process has worked its will. Now let us get on with the urgent task of uniting this country”.

Paris says that Hubert Humphrey probably wasn’t considered very fun either, but this is one of a myriad of things that Paris gets completely wrong. Hubert Humphrey was known for his positive outlook and zest for life, a free spirit who loved every minute of being alive and wanted to make the world a happier place. Even when conceding defeat, he spoke about how much fun the campaign had been. It’s probably one of America’s tragedies that they failed to elect him as President.

Hillary Clinton

RORY: Um, actually, I have to get home. I have to review my campaign platform …

LORELAI: Yes, our little Hillary Clinton here is running for student body vice president.

Hillary Clinton (born Hillary Rodham in 1947), former First Lady of the US from 1993-2001 as the wife of President Bill Clinton. In 2000, she was elected as the first female senator for New York, becoming the first First Lady to hold elected office and the first to serve in the Senate.

In a later season, we learn that Hillary Clinton is one of Rory’s heroines.

Randolph

RORY: Go away, Randolph.

Referring to William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951), businessman, newspaper magnate, and politician, previously mentioned. Hearst developed the nation’s largest newspaper chain and media company, Hearst Communications. He was twice elected as a Democrat to the US House of Representatives, but was unsuccessful in his attempts to run for President in 1904, Mayor of New York in 1905 and 1909, and Governor of New York in 1906.

Like Hearst, Paris is the head of the newspaper and a presidential candidate. While running for President, Hearst shamelessly ran newspaper stories in favour of his own candidacy – Rory is suggesting Paris is doing the same thing by trying to influence the article Rory is writing about her speech.

William Randolph Hearst was unsuccessful in his bid for President, which might be a tease from Rory as well.

John F. Kennedy

PARIS: John F. Kennedy once said, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. Those eloquent words are just as relevant here in this hall today. What can you, the future of Chilton, of America, of the world, what can you do for your school?

John F. Kennedy, US president, previously discussed. The quote comes from John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address on January 20 1961, inspiring the nation to greater civic participation. The finely-crafted address was one of the shortest ever made, and afterwards, 75% of Americans polled approved of the new president.

The Final Days of Dick Nixon

RORY: Taylor’s wigging.

LORELAI: I know. He’s been sitting there like the final days of Dick Nixon for almost an hour.

Richard Nixon (1913-1994), 37th President of the US from 1969 to 1974. The Watergate Affair, the name used to describe the secret and illegal activities undertaken by members of the Nixon administration, was brought to light by reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward in The Washington Post in 1972.

Nixon had hoped to weather the storm by refusing to leave, but impeachment hearings against him opened in May 1974. With loss of political support, and the near-certainty he would be impeached and removed from office, Nixon resigned on August 9 1974.

Lorelai may be specifically referring to the 1976 non-fiction book, The Final Days, by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, describing the last months of Richard Nixon’s presidency. It was a major commercial success, and was made into a television movie of the same name in 1989, with Lane Smith as Richard Nixon.

Ted Nugent

EMILY: Well, we intend to leave here completely different people.

LORELAI: Yes, I’m going to be Ted Nugent.

Theodore “Ted” Nugent (born 1948), songwriter, guitarist and activist. He initially gained fame as the lead guitarist and occasional lead vocalist of The Amboy Dukes, a psychedelic rock/hard rock band, before embarking on a solo career. His biggest hit was the 1977 song Cat Scratch Fever. In later years, Nugent has become known for his outspoken conservative political views and advocacy of hunting and gun ownership rights.

Ted Nugent seems to be someone that Lorelai sees as completely different to herself, politically speaking.

I Like Ike

JESS: So when was the last time you had those gutters cleaned?
LORELAI: It’s been awhile.
JESS: Yeah, I found an ‘I like Ike’ bumper sticker up there.

“I like Ike” was the campaign slogan for the 1952 election campaign of US President Dwight D. “Ike” Eisenhower. He won the election for the Republicans in a landslide victory, and became the country’s 34th president.

Hopefully Jess is joking – not having your gutters cleaned for half a century sounds pretty bad.

Rory’s Books from the Buy a Book Fundraiser

Rory buys several books at the fundraiser, but only a couple of the titles are visible. Gypsy the mechanic is volunteering her time to work at the fundraiser, and she points Rory to the astronomy section, as if Rory has an interest in this area, and Gypsy somehow knows about it. Both quite surprising things to learn! The Buy a Book Fundraiser is held outside the library, and may be raising funds for new books.

Inherit the Wind

A 1955 play by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, fictionalising the events of the Scopes “Monkey” Trial. This was a legal trial in July 1925 where schoolteacher John Scopes was taken to court by the state of Tennessee for teaching human evolution. There was intense media scrutiny of the case, with publicity given to the high-profile lawyers who had taken the case. The prosecution had former Secretary of State, William Jennings Bryan, while Clarence Darrow defended Scopes – the same lawyer who had defended child murders Leopold and Loeb, previously discussed. Scopes was fined $100, but the case was overturned on a technicality. The case was seen as both a theological contest, and a test as to whether teachers could teach modern science in schools.

The play gives everyone involved in the Scopes Trial different names, and substantially alters numerous events. It is not meant to be a historical account, and is a means to discuss the McCarthy trials of the 1950s, where left-wing individuals were persecuted as Communist sympathisers, under a regime of political repression and a fear-mongering campaign.

Rory might be particularly interested in the play because of the focus it places on the media, with reporter E.K. Hornbeck covering the case for a fictional Baltimore newspaper. He is based on journalist and author H.L. Mencken, previously discussed as one of Rory’s heroes, who gained attention for his satirical reporting on the Scopes Trial for the Baltimore Morning Herald.

Inherit the Wind premiered in Dallas in 1955 to rave reviews, and opened on Broadway a few months later with Paul Muni, Ed Begley, and Tony Randall in the cast. It’s been revived on Broadway in 1996 and in 2007, as well as in Philadelphia, London, Italy, and India.

It was adapted into film in 1960, directed by Stanley Kramer, and with Spencer Tracey starring as the defence lawyer, Dick York as the schoolteacher, and Gene Kelly as the Baltimore journalist. It received excellent reviews and won awards at the Berlin Film Festival. It’s also been made for television in 1966, 1988, and in 1999 (starring George C. Scott, Jack Lemmon, and Beau Bridges). It seems likely that Rory watched the most recent version on television.

Letters to a Young Poet

A 1929 collection of ten letters written by the Bohemian-Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke, to a young officer cadet named Franz Xaver Kappus at the Theresian Military Academy in Wiener Neustadt, Austria between 1902 and 1908.

Kappus had written to Rilke, seeking advice on the quality of his poetry, to help him choose between a literary career, or one as an officer in the Austro-Hungarian Army. Kappus had been reading Rilke’s poetry when he discovered that Rilke had earlier studied at the academy’s lower school in St. Pölten, and decided to write to him for advice.

Rilke gave Kappus very little criticism or suggestions on improving his writing, and said that nobody could advise him or make life decisions for him. Over the course of ten letters, he instead provided essays on how a poet should feel and seek truth in experiencing the world around him. They offer insights into Rilke’s poetic ideas and themes, and his work processes.

Kappus did meet Rilke at least once, and despite his concerns about pursuing a military career, he continued his studies and served for 15 years as an army officer. During the course of his life, he worked as a journalist and reporter, and wrote poems, stories, novels, and screenplays. However, he never achieved lasting fame.

This is a book which features a future journalist – but one who yearns to become a poet. Is it a sign that Rory secretly wishes she could become a creative writer instead? Is she hoping that being successful in journalism will help her become a published author (it’s definitely a help in getting novels published, or at least considered). Is it even a hint that she will become a writer in the future, as she does in A Year in the Life, but is not destined to become famous from her writing? (Most published writers, even quite successful ones, don’t get famous, after all).

And is this correspondence between a poet and a student at a military academy meant to suggest that Rory is still thinking of Tristan, who went away to military school? Are she and Tristan actually writing to each other, or is the show leaving the door open for Tristan to possibly return in a future season, since they didn’t know how long One Tree Hill was going to last?

Martin Sheen

LORELAI: I think we probably would’ve met eventually.
SHERRY: Perhaps, at some function or other.
LORELAI: Yeah – you, me, Martin Sheen, all chained to the same tree.

Ramón Estévez (born 1940), award-winning actor known professionally as Martin Sheen. He first became known for his work in The Subject Was Roses (1968), and later achieved recognition for his leading role in Apocalypse Now (1979). He played President Josiah Bartlett in the television series The West Wing (1999-2006). He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Martin Sheen has been active in countless non-violent acts of civil disobedience, and been arrested for protesting 66 times. He has rallied for peace, gun control, and in support of immigration, and protested against nuclear power, nuclear weapons testing, dangerous arms buildup, abuse of farmworkers, Canadian sealclubbing, the invasion of Iraq, and numerous other environmental, political, and social causes.

Lorelai jokes that the function she and Sherry might have met at could have been at an environmental protest against logging with Martin Sheen. Of course, Sherry is thinking of functions at Chilton.