While there can be a sadistic kick in watching certain, particularly obnoxious stars fade (Crinkle, Mel Gibson! Crinkle and sag!) it is important to bear in mind that none of us, with the possible exception of Seth Green, is getting any younger. As we watch celebrities wither before us, we're withering along with them. At least, thanks to our blessed anonymity, we can be reasonably sure that strangers aren't chuckling about our jowls and crow's feet.
I'd never really given Jodie Foster much thought before, but now I find myself thinking back to where and who I was when I saw her in The Hotel New Hampshire, in The Silence of the Lambs, in Contact, in other movies better and worse. She's been there my entire life, always just a bit older than me—an older sister kind of older. Though I don't have any siblings in real life, in a strange way it does feel like I've grown up with Foster. I knew her when she was a tomboy with stringy hair and no hips, and here she is today, her otherworldly beauty dimmed but not completely gone, staring at me, unblinkingly, from that billboard. And I think I finally understand why that billboard upsets me so. I'm used to seeing Foster larger than life, defiant, strong, and untouchable. But now, even blown up 25 feet tall, she seems as small and fragile as the rest of us. She looks like she's asking a question, and she desperately needs an answer. I wish I knew what to tell her.